Our office handles a substantial number of ETA Form 9089 – Permanent Labor Certification (“PERM”) applications and we are closely monitoring the current PERM processing times not only for the benefit of our clients but also to be able to predict longer-term trends in PERM processing.
The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has provided an update on the current PERM filing and processing statistics in addition to the processing dates as of January 3, 2013.
Current PERM Processing Times
Most notable are the steady processing times for regular and audited PERM applications and the improvement in the initial intake of appeals to the certifying officer. The processing times, as reported by DOL, are as follows:
- Regular processing: October 2012. DOL is processing PERM applications with priority dates in October of 2012. Accordingly, regular PERM processing times should be around three to four months (no change compared to recent reports). Our office has experienced PERM approvals consistent with this timeline and we can confirm it.
- Audited applications: May 2012. DOL is processing PERM audits which have a priority date of late May 2012. This processing time has remained steady over the past few months. Accordingly, audited PERM applications are processed approximately eight to nine months after the initial PERM was filed and the priority date established.
- Appealed applications (requests for reconsideration to the Certifying Officer): January 2013. DOL is processing PERM appeals (requests for reconsideration to the certifying officer) which have a priority date of early January 2013. There is continued notable improvement in this category in comparison to prior months. Accordingly, PERM requests for reconsideration are processed in approximately one month after the appeal was filed. Please note that unlike the reports for the regular review and audit review (above) which refer to the priority date of the PERM case, this report reflects the date on which the PERM appeal was filed.
- “Government error” appealed applications. DOL has indicated that PERM appeals in this category are reviewed on a 30-45 day timeline. However, after filing an appeal, DOL does not make an indication whether a PERM appeal is accepted to be processed under the “government error” queue or under the regular appeal queue. As a result, DOL has indicated that the only way to know whether a PERM appeal has been accepted for processing under the “government error” queue is to wait for 45 days for response. If the PERM appeal is reviewed within this time, this would be an indication that a PERM appeal has been accepted (and reviewed) under the “government error” queue. If no response is received 45 days after filing of a PERM appeal, then this should be an indication that the PERM is pending under the regular appeals queue (see above for processing times).
Increased Scrutiny and Enforcement May Lead to Increased PERM Processing Times
It should be noted, however, that DOL has indicated that they would continue increasing enforcement of the PERM program — according to recent DOL report, they plan on auditing or performing supervised recruitment for 30% of PERM cases. This is likely to add to the volume of DOL officers and, perhaps, add to the processing times. Preparing and filing a strong PERM application becomes very important. Also, in terms of H-1B extension and green card processing planning, it becomes prudent to plan conservatively on a PERM case remaining under review for 9+ months.
The January 2013 PERM processing times report shows steady trend in the regular and appealed PERM processing times, and a notable (and welcome) improvement in the PERM appeal processing times. We hope that DOL would be able to continue to improve (or at least keep steady) the PERM processing times over the next weeks and months even as they plan on increasing their PERM program enforcement reviews.
Our office has developed a great practice handling PERM filings and/or audit/appeal responses so please do not hesitate to contact us if we can help you. Also, we will continue monitoring the PERM processing times and analyze any updates. Please visit us again or subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to ensure that you obtain this and related immigration-related news and announcements.