PERM applications are particularly common for university professors. While it might seem a bit odd that this profession cannot be filled by Americans, upon closer examination it makes quite a lot of sense. In general it comes down to a question of specialization.
University Professors Define Themselves by a Speciality Area
University professors are perfectly suited to for PERM status. They can show a long list of educational credentials in their path to phD status, combined with a speciality focus area that they wrote for a phD thesis. Ten to fifteen years of study plus a few teaching positions is all one needs to put on their 9089 form to be accepted. What really makes the difference is how specific the thesis is, and how much the University in question would benefit from this kind of knowledge.
A refined thesis area and specific area of research is particularly important for a successful PERM application. The more unique the focus area, the less likely it is for an American to fill the position. Say, for example, Princeton has an opening in the East Asian studies department. Let’s presume they want someone with a focus on farming practices in the Middle East between the 15th-19th century. It is highly likely that a professor from Iran or even India is a renowned expert in this field. They would make an ideal addition to Princeton’ East Asian Studies department, except for one hitch: getting an approved Visa and green card would take far too long. This is where the benefit of PERM comes in.
Furthermore, there is not likely to be a specialist in East Asian studies born in America. While there are undoubtedly some experts, the majority of expert scholars either come from an East Asian country or have strong ties there. It is also quite easy for a school to show the value of having a regional scholar make the move to America. Their local knowledge and ability to encourage cross-cultural relationships is invaluable to a university. An application should state the kinds of impact that a foreign specialist will have on the school, listing the seminars, talks, and other social endeavours the foreigner will take part in.
On the flip-side, applications made for general teaching are not as likely to be accepted. It is not likely for two reasons. The first is that a domestic professor will probably have all the credentials required for a general teaching job. If a school has not grounds to reject a domestic applicant, then the PERM file is officially rejected. The second reason is that hiring a foreigner for a general teaching position is likely not going to be convincing enough for the DOL to accept.
In general though, PERM is a boon for universities who want to hire a foreign professor for the next fall term. Schools that require some help in filing should contact immigration experts, labor law advocates and advertising agencies that specialize in PERM recruitment.