by Maria Schneider

The US Department of Labor (DOL) announced on June 2, 2015 that it will begin the process of updating the PERM regulations. The PERM regulations govern the labor certification process, the first phase of most green card cases.

The PERM process requires the employer to test the US labor market in an effort to protect the US labor force. PERM is required for Occupational Therapists, Medical Technologists, Physicians, Speech Language Pathologists, and many other occupations. PERM is not required for Registered Nurses or Physical Therapists, as the DOL has determined that there is a national shortage of RNs and PTs in the US and therefore the labor market does not need to be tested.

The DOL has not comprehensively examined or modified the PERM process since 2004. Much has changed in the way employers recruit workers since 2004. The DOL has received ongoing feedback that the existing PERM requirements frequently do not align with worker or industry needs and practices. For instance, the PERM process requires the employer to advertise in the print newspaper; most workers now use online job search engines to find open positions.

The DOL is engaging in new rulemaking that will consider options to modernize the PERM program to be more responsive to changes in the national workforce, to further align the program design with the objectives of the US immigration system, and to enhance the integrity of the labor certification process.

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