Most categories of employment based immigration require a U.S. employer to sponsor the alien by offering them a job. In addition, some employment based petitions require the employer to prove that no minimally qualified U.S. workers are available to perform the job at the prevailing wage. The process of proving that there are no U.S. workers available to perform the job is called labor certification.
The labor certification process is an onerous and complex process. It requires an employer to recruit U.S. workers to replace the sponsored alien. The first step for labor certification is to submit a job order to the local State Employment Agency with a job description, minimum education/training requirements, and minimum experience requirements suitable for the position. The State Employment Agency will review the submission and provide the current prevailing wage for the position. The offered wage for the position must be higher than the prevailing wage. The State Employment Agency may also request modifications to the job requirements. The job order must be placed at the local State Employment Agency for a minimum of 30 days.
After the State Employment Agency approves of the application, the employer has to begin a recruiting campaign. Two methods of advertisements are required. The employer must post the job offer with the wage offered, job description, contact information at the place the business which is accessible to all employees. In addition, it must have the contact information for the Department of Labor where employees can submit information pertinent to the job offer. The internal in-house posting for 10 consecutive business days. Second, employer is required to post a job advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation on two different Sundays. One of the Sunday newspaper advertisements can be replaced with an advertisement in a national professional journal for professions requiring an advance degree.
The employer is required to advertise the job open through a minimum of three additional avenues including job fairs, web sites, private employment firms, radio/television advertisements, or a university campus recruitment. All job applicants are required to be interviewed. If the job applicant is not qualified, the reason why the applicant was not qualified must be documented. The employer must retain documentation of recruitment campaign for a minimum of five years in case of Department of Labor decides to audit the employer.
The recruitment must be conducted no more than 180 days but no less than 30 days prior to submission of the labor certification to the U.S. Department of Labor. The processing time of the labor department varies but generally can take up to 90 days. If the labor certification is approved, the employer can move forward with the permanent residency petition for the foreign national. The certification has a validity period of 180-days and expires if not submitted to USCIS within this period.
Permanent labor certification is very complicated and consultation with an experienced immigration attorney is recommended. Please contact our office for a consultation prior to beginning the process of applying for an employment based immigration petition.