The Department of Labor (DOL) has released figures on the Permanent Labor Certification Program for the year 2016. The data shows a rise in the number of filings from 2015, indicating that there might be some issues with administrative filing procedures. The PERM is the first step in the employment-based green card application for foreign nationals.
PERM Data from 2016
The DOL received 97,504 PERM applications in 2016, representing an 11 percent increase from 2015. This is additional to the 17 percent rise in applications from 2014 to 2015. What these numbers show is that employers are struggling to find skilled American workers to fill the kinds of roles they need. They are increasingly having to resort to the lengthy and expensive PERM process to fill these roles. It is clear that this has been the case for a number of years now, as American technological training lags behind other nationalities, especially in IT and electrical engineering. So, PERM is popular on one hand because of a lacking in resources and skills in America itself. On the other hand, PERM applications are on the rise because American businesses are growing rapidly and they need the human resources and highly skilled minds to help take them to the next level. If training and education in America does not begin to yield more skilled laborers then it will be no surprise to see PERM applications reach 200,000 in a few years.
Why is PERM So Slow
The excessive paperwork is what makes PERM so slow. Employers need to provide in-depth information into the job they are sponsoring; give a clear summary of their advertisement initiatives (with evidence) that complies with DOL specifications; and give an informed profile of the foreign workers career history.
The excess paperwork has created an immense backlog in cases. This is obviously no good for anyone involved, and what ends up happening is that employers will look for other ways to sponsor the foreigner so that they can get to work. PERM visa status falls under the EB-3 category, for which there is a major backlog. Employers have been trying to get around this by changing the position for which they are hiring. In some cases, changing the position of a new employee allows them to fall into the expedited EB-2 category. However, this change in status requires a re-application of PERM to update the information on the foreign worker. This in turn contributes to the backlog.
The Way Forward
The one constant throughout all this is that the PERM process needs to be overhauled. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services would be grateful if the advertising around this backlog was present in national newspapers and on national television.