PERM Processing Time and Trends
PERM processing time has steadily increased over the past 12 months. Compared to last year, PERM processing time is twice as long. For instance, an unaudited PERM case filed in October 2012 took about 3 months for the US Department of Labor (DOL) to approve. Then, cases filed in December 2012 took nearly 4 months to approve, and now, DOL is approving cases filed in February 2013 (i.e., more than six months). If a PERM case is selected for audit, the processing time will take an additional 6 months.
PERM denials are also on the rise. Today’s denials are based on small technicalities, most of which are newly “invented” issues that weren’t ever issues for DOL since PERM began in 2005. Below are a few irrational justifications used by DOL to deny cases as reported by various attorneys throughout the US:
1. The notice of PERM filing did not contain the worksite’s full street address (City and State is sufficient based on PERM regulations).
2. If a position may require the employee to occasionally relocate within the US, DOL claims that indicating the possibility of being assigned to various locations throughout the US is not adequate.
3. If a position requires a particular skill, certification or license, and that skill, certification or license isn’t indicated somewhere on the application (even though the PERM application doesn’t provide a dedicated area for such information), DOL deems the beneficiary must not meet the special skill, certification or license and denies.
4. If a technical position requires BS+2, adding an alternative way of qualifying by accepting 6 years of experience in lieu of BS+2 is unacceptable.
If DOL were able to keep PERM processing time under 2 months as this electronic process was designed to, denials based on minor technicalities would not affect employers as most can quickly make minor edits to the application and re-file. Unfortunately, now that PERM processing time is 6+ months, a denial based on the smallest of technicality forces employers to re-advertise and re-file because the required recruitment ads cannot be more than 6 months old at the time of filing. Although employers can always choose to appeal instead of re-file, the appeal process is already 2+ years and surely increasing given the increase in such irrational denials.