Special Handling

When a foreign worker is trying to obtain an employment-based immigrant visa in the EB-2 (except NIW) and EB-3 category, their employer must first go through the PERM labor certification process. The PERM labor certification requires the employer to go through variousmarket testing activities to ensure that qualified U.S workers are not displaced by foreign workers.

For higher education employers, an alternative process, called special handling, is available to obtain PERM labor certification. Specifically, special handling is available for teaching positions at institutions of higher learning. These alternate requirements are available to both streamline the labor certification process and ensure that the best candidate is chosen.

Special Handling Requirements

  • Special handling is only available for higher education employers. The employer must be an accredited institution of higher education that offers bachelor’s or higher degrees, OR two-year degrees that can count towards a bachelor’s degree.
  • The position that is being tested must be full time and require some degree of teaching. Teaching does not have to be the primary job duty. A traditional tenure-tracked professorship involving classroom teaching is the most common position that qualifies for special handling.
  • The employer is required to post an ad in a national professional journal (1 ad if it is in print or a 30 day ad if it is an online posting)
  • The beneficiary must meet the minimum requirements of the position as advertised. The minimum requirements set cannot exceed the qualifications of those who have held the job previously, or exceed the qualifications of others that hold the same position employed by the college or university.
  • The employer must obtain a prevailing wage determination from the Department of Laborthat a labor certification application may be filed for an alien beneficiary and is a mandatory requirement for all PERM filings. 
  • The special handling PERM must be filed within 18 months of the date of when the beneficiary was selected for the position. Often times, this is the date of the job offer letter.

Advantage to Special Handling

Special handling has various advantage over traditional PERM labor certification. First, special handling can be used if the alien is found to be more qualified than all other applicants. Under regular PERM requirements, the employer is required to reserve the position if there are any domestic workers that meet the minimum requirements of the position. For special handling, even if there are applicants who do meet the minimum requirements of the position, the labor certification can still be approved if the alien beneficiary is more qualified.

Second, special handling PERM requires a national market test as opposed to only a local market test in traditional PERM. National market testing allows the employer to reach a wider range of applicants, ensuring that they choose the best candidate for the position from a larger pool of candidates.

Thirdly, special handling PERM has a more simplified advertisement requirement than traditional PERM. For special handling, the employer must advertise the position in a national professional journal. If the journal is online, the advertisement must stay up for 30 days. If the journal is in print, one advertisement in that journal is sufficient. For traditional PERM, the employer must place a job order with the state’s workforce agency, and 2 job postings in Sunday newspaper. In addition, the employer must post 3 more ads. The advertisement requirements of special handling PERM is simpler and much easier to carry out. Furthermore, employers do not have to place new ads if the original ad used to recruit the beneficiary meets the requirements in special handling PERM. This further simplifies the advertisement process compared to traditional PERM.

Fourthly, although both regular and special handling PERM both requires an internal job posting, special handling PERM does not require the listing of a salary. Listing the salary of a future co-worker’s position is a sensitive subject, and special handling allows for a more discrete job posting that can address this concern.

Lastly, special handling PERM offers more flexibility in terms of time limit requirements than traditional PERM. Special handling PERM gives employers 18 months to submit the PERM petition from the date the employer decided to hire the beneficiary. In traditional PERM, the advertisement stage must be placed no more than 180 days before filing but within 30 days of filing. This requirement gives the employer a small window to file for PERM while special handling gives the employer a much wider time limitation.

Disadvantages to Special Handling

Although there are many advantages to special handling PERM, there are a few disadvantages. For example, only higher education employers will be able to use special handling. Primary and secondary education employers (elementary, middle and high schools) will not be able to take advantage of special handling PERM.

Furthermore, the position that is offered must be a teaching position. Although teaching does not have to be the primary duty of the position, it must involve some instructional activity. Thus, researchers, librarians, and other staff that do not teach will not be able to use special handling.

In summary, special handling PERM is an excellent option for those who qualify. Here at Zhang & Associates, we have successfully handled numerous special handling 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 info@hooyou.com. Our attorneys will use their experience, expertise, and teamwork to ensure the highest quality of service for your PERM case.

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