Registered Nurses and Physical Therapists are exempt from the Department of Labor PERM Application process because they are Schedule A occupations. This is a great relief because it saves considerable time. Other healthcare occupations, notably Occupational Therapist and Speech Language Pathologists, must still avail themselves of the PERM process.
PERM Applications usually take several months to prepare because before a PERM Application can be filed, the employer must test the labor market with a variety of advertisements that may be placed in newspapers, on the internet, and via hard copy Notice posting.
After the labor market test is complete, the PERM Application is electronically filed with the Department of Labor. The electronic filing sets the Application’s “priority date”. The DOL electronically reviews the Application. The DOL presently is reviewing PERM Applications that have December 2014 priority dates.
A percentage of PERM Applications are selected for auditing. The audit selection process is generally random, although some factors can increase an Applications chance of being selected. The biggest downside of the Audit is the processing time.
The DOL is presently reviewing PERM Applications with a priority date of March 2014, which is about one and a half years from the date of the initial filing of the PERM Application. If one assumes about 6 months for the pre-filing labor market test, then the total processing time for the PERM process is almost two years.
Fortunately the DOL appears to be aware of the backlogs. At a recent meeting between AILA and the Office of Foreign Labor Certification, the OFLC said that it expects to see a “considerable reduction” in the audit processing queue.