Since it’s inception in 2005, PERM has gone through a number of little changes. The administration is always looking to make their agencies, offices and programs more effective, and PERM is no different. Employers look back with dismay on the changes in 2008 when audits increased in number and have stayed pretty consistent ever since. They also look back with dismay on the 2007 ruling that obliged employers to pay all administrative costs up front without having the option to claim these costs in their tax return.
A lot of changes have been made to increase the difficulty of PERM applications. The logic for this is that the administration was looking for ways to keep things organized. Now, after twelve years of the PERM system, many employers, lawyers, and administrative workers are expecting the rules to loosen up a little bit. One major area that is expected to change is the removal of print ads from the requirements. Digital ads will replace print ads, but it’s not all positive – a fee is expected to be placed on every application to account for immigration paperwork handling.
Before any major changes can occur, however, the administration wants to make sure every applicant knows the rules. Recently the Department of Labor published a few clarifications of PERM requirements to remind people that there have not been any changes yet. The DOL meets regularly with stakeholders to discuss issued with PERM, and many of these clarifications are answers to commonly asked questions.
Why the Slowdown in Wage Determination? – The government received a huge amount of applications in the second half of 2016. This slowed down their processing time immensely. Part of the issue is the lack of human resources available at the DOL, an issue which caused them to shelve some PERM applications and tackle the more urgent temporary visa applications for agricultural workers. It should take until the spring of 2017 to deal with PERM applications.
Know the Right Labor Category – The government wants employers and foreign nationals to know that the prevailing wage should be increased if the job entails a number of different duties. This applies to most high level jobs (academic included).
No More Re-Applications – In the past, a double application meant that employers could re-apply. This is no longer allowed, says the government, who are really trying to limit the amount of paperwork and/or electronic mail they receive.
Be Specific in the Salary Expectations – Employers should know that writing “competitive salary” in the application is grounds for immediate rejection. This is stated clearly in the Office for Foreign Labor Certifications guidelines, so there is no excuse. The government has made it clear that they keep their wage determination numbers up to date each year and that employers must follow it.