PERM Statistics Show Decline in Applications Submitted

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

An interesting report was just released by the U.S. Department of Labor which provides labor certification PERM program data utilizing information from actual labor certification applications submitted by employers across the country. 

The report tells us that in FY 2009, there was a decline in all application submitted and positions certified in permanent labor applications.  

In FY 2008, there was a 42 percent decrease from FY 2007 in cases certified.  Representing a further decline, however, is FY 2009, where there was a 40 percent decrease from the number of cases certified in FY 2008 (which is actually an 82% decrease from FY 2007).  The decrease in permanent labor certifications reflects, in part, the impact the declining economy had on employment in the U.S.  Indeed, professional, scientific, and technical services industries, which account for the largest number of permanent certifications in the PERM program, decreased over 37 percent.

The majority of labor certifications were filed for Computer Software Engineer occupations, followed by Computer Systems Analysts, Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software, and Computer and Information Systems Managers accounting for 31% of all labor certifications filed.  However, all occupations saw a decline in the number of certifications granted over the past fiscal year, with agriculture experiencing the biggest slide with a decrease of over 83 percent from FY 2008 to FY 2009.

Several other industries saw declines of over 50 percent from FY 2008 in certifications granted, including retail trade, construction, waste management and remediation support services, and mining. The enterprise management industry experienced the least decline in certifications from FY 2008 with a decrease of less than 3 percent, a stark contrast to the year previous when it saw the largest decrease of all industries, over 63 percent, from FY 2007.

In FY 2009, India and China remained two of the top countries of origin for foreign workers in the PERM program; however, South Korea and the Philippines also join these countries in the top four, while Mexico exited this top grouping.  These four countries represent 63 percent of the total number of certifications in FY 2009.

Many employers begin the process of securing lawful permanent residence in the U.S. for a foreign worker based on their existing employment of that individual on an H-1B non-immigrant temporary visa.  Other times, employers recruit prospectively for new workers based on a permanent need for a specific skill set.  This process for securing the permanent worker more often than not begins through the PERM labor certification employer recruitment process. 

Through the PERM labor certification employer recruitment process, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) determines whether U.S. workers are available, able, willing, and qualified to perform the proposed work; and whether the employment of the foreign workers would adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed domestic workers. Employers must demonstrate that they tested the labor market in accordance with the DOL’s regulations to recruit U.S. workers for the position and that they will pay at least the required or prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment before they can even file a labor certification application on behalf of a permanent foreign worker.

Although certification is most often the first step towards the process of hiring a permanent foreign worker, certification of the position, is not a guarantee of a foreign worker’s timely admission, since many employment-based immigrant categories have numerical limitations set by Congress with per country numerical limits as well.

In general, employers must complete the following steps to obtain a labor certification: fully test the domestic labor market for U.S. workers in accordance with the respective program’s recruitment requirements including consecutive Sunday newspaper advertisements, interviews, in addition to other specific advertising and recruitment steps; ensure the position meets the qualifying criteria for the requested labor certification program; complete and submit the necessary application and documentation, and if requested, participate in any additional information requests; ensure the wage offered to the foreign worker(s) equals or exceeds the required wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment and demonstrates no adverse impact on the wages of similarly employed American workers; ensure that the employer completely understands and complies with the requirements related to the foreign labor certification program; and ensure that the employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the United States who are similarly employed.

Critical to growing our collective scientific, technological, and engineering expertise – as well as all sectors of our economy – includes welcoming top minds and talents from abroad into our workforce.  Indeed, an influx of global talent helps increase employment of U.S. workers which is also our first priority.  Innovation and job growth go hand-in-hand.

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