PERM Labor Certification

Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) is the system used to process labor certifications, which is the first step certain foreign nationals must take in order to obtain an employment-based immigrant visa.


PERM was first implemented on March 28, 2005, and since then, all labor certification applications are required to be filed with PERM. Forms used beforehand (i.e. ETA Form 750) as well as Reduction in Recruitment (RIR) are no longer available for new labor certification filings. The employment-based preference categories that require PERM labor certifications are EB-2 (with the exception of National Interest Waivers) and EB-3.


Before a U.S. employer can file an immigration petition for a foreign worker for most positions covered under EB-2 and EB-3 visas, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) must approve a labor certification. To this end, the employer submits ETA Form 9089 to DOL, which then must confirm to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the employer has satisfied two conditions:

  1. There is not a sufficient number of U.S. workers who are able, qualified, and willing to accept the job offer in question at the prevailing wage for that occupation in the area where the employer intends the foreign worker to take the job; and

  2. By employing the foreign worker, neither the wages nor the working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers will be adversely affected.


In brief, the PERM process requires the petitioning employer to conduct a series of recruitment activities to test the labor market before filing a labor certification application. If, during the recruitment process, the employer finds that there is not a sufficient number of able, qualified, and willing applicants, whether U.S. citizens or permanent residents, then the employer can submit a PERM labor certification application. (For more information on recruitment, click here.)

Under PERM regulations, employers have the option of submitting the labor certification application either electronically or by mail to DOL for adjudication. While employers do not have to submit supporting documents at the time of filing, they must have conducted all recruitment activities and compiled all documentation prior to filing. Documents that employers may use to demonstrate recruitment activities include website printouts, newspaper tear sheets, and job orders. (In the event of a potential audit or review down the line, petitioning employers should save this documentation for five years.)

Originally, DOL expected an electronically filed PERM labor certification application not under audit to be adjudicated in roughly 45 to 60 days. The current processing time for PERM applications is closer to 90 days, however. If DOL selects a case for auditing, the petitioning employer is required to submit all requested documents within 30 days. Audit requests that go unanswered can result in the case being designated abandoned, and DOL may require the unresponsive employer to undergo supervised recruitment for any labor certification applications in the future.

After DOL approves a labor certification, the employer must file an associated immigrant petition with USCIS before the labor certification’s validity period, which lasts 180 days, expires.

The requirement of labor certification is waived for National Interest Waiver (NIW) petitions under the EB-2 category, and is additionally not needed for EB-1, EB-4, or EB-5 petitions.

Overall, PERM labor certification is an extremely complicated and time-sensitive procedure. We recommend that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Over the years, Zhang & Associates has successfully handled hundreds of PERM cases. If you would like to contact us, we’re available by phone at (713) 771-8433, or you can visit us at one of our eight U.S. locations. We’re also conveniently available by e-mail at Our attorneys will use their experience, expertise, and teamwork to ensure the highest quality of service for your PERM case.

For more detailed information on PERM labor certification, including minimum requirements and USCIS policies, refer to the following links:

Updated 04/14/2017