This year marks the 10th anniversary of the PERM regulations, which govern the labor certification process for the permanent employment of immigrant foreign workers and establish responsibilities of employers who wish to employ these workers permanently in the United States. The Department has not comprehensively examined and modified the permanent labor certification requirements and process since their inception of the program ten years ago. Over the last ten years, many things have changed in our country’s economy affecting employers’ demand for workers as well as the availability of a qualified domestic labor force. This past fiscal year, employers submitted over 70,000 PERM applications requesting foreign workers, with the majority of those job openings being for professional occupations in the Information Technology and Science fields. Over time, demands for labor have increased, and surpluses for various types of workers have changed. Advances in technology and information dissemination have dramatically altered common industry recruitment practices, and the Department has received ongoing feedback that the existing regulatory requirements governing the PERM recruitment process frequently do not align with worker or industry needs and practices.
To respond to change, the Department will be initiating a review of the PERM program and relevant regulations. As part of the review, the Department will seek input on the following matters of the current regulation to see how the PERM program can be modernized and responsive to changes in the national workforce:
- Options for identifying labor force occupational shortages and surpluses and methods for aligning domestic worker requirements with these shortages and surpluses;
- New methods and practices structured to modernize U.S. worker recruitment requirements;
- Clarify employer obligations to insure that PERM positions are fully open to U.S. workers;
- Range of case processing timeframes and the possibility for premium processing; and
- Application submission and its review process, along with feasibility for the Department to efficiently address nonmaterial errors.
Employment and Training Administration may examine additional aspects of the existing PERM regulations in order to further align the program’s design with the objectives of the U.S. immigration system and needs of both workers and employers, enhancing the overall integrity of the labor certification process.