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Permanent Labor Certification (PERM)

The Labor Certification process allows US employers to hire foreign workers. As an applicant for a Green Card via a job, the certification is often indispensable. Learn about the so-called PERM and get essential tips for job applicants in the USA.

What is a Labor Certification?

A Labor Certification is a document issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to companies looking to hire foreign workers.

To ensure that employing non-Americans does not harm (unemployed) US citizens, the government introduced the PERM system in the 1990s. Since then, employers must prove that a vacancy could not also be filled with a US employee.

Labor Certification plays a central role in applying for a Green Card through a job in the US. Most American employers are eager to hire talented foreign workers to fill key company positions. That is why numerous companies undergo the complex and cost-intensive process to obtain Permanent Labor Certification every year.

The Labor Certification is also known by other names. This includes:

  • Permanent Employment Certification
  • Form ETA 9089
  • ETA Form 9089
  • Permanent Labor Certification
  • PERM

Who must apply for Labor Certification?

Applying for Labor Certification for a Green Card through a workplace must be done by your prospective US employer on your behalf. The form to be filled out (ETA form 9089) must be submitted for all professions that do not fall into the “Schedule A” category.

What is Schedule A?

Schedule A jobs are a specific category of jobs for which there is a shortage of qualified workers in the United States. The U.S. Department of Labor created this category to facilitate the hiring of foreign workers for these occupations, most notably by eliminating Labor Certification.

Schedule A jobs include, for example, professions in nursing, physical therapy, or science.

How much does a Labor Certification cost?

The cost of the Labor Certification process is made up of various parts such as legal fees, advertising or recruiting fees, consulting fees, and the actual labor time required in the process.

Fees and advertising costs vary widely, so we cannot determine an exact price for a Labor Certification. However, you can expect to pay more than $ 5,000 in any case.

Permanent Labor Certification processing time

The processing time for a Labor Certification can be up to twelve months. However, it can be reduced to 15 days through the so-called "Premium Processing," which costs a whopping $ 2,800.

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How to apply for Labor Certification

Your prospective employer in the US goes through the following steps when applying for Labor Certification:

  • Determine eligibility: As an applicant and for the position to be filled, do you meet all the requirements for the Green Card process?
  • Conduct recruitment efforts (US citizens have priority) for later evidence
  • Complete ETA Form 9089 (online at or by hand)
  • Submit the form (digitally, or mail it to the DOL Application Processing Center of your US state)
  • Await the certified copy of the form as a confirmation and for possible re-submission at a later date
  • Start the immigration application for the Green Card applicant (Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Go through the immigration process together, including long wait times

Get a Green Card faster

Waiting times in the employment-based Green Card process can be lengthy, so US employers usually prefer to choose applicants who already have a Green Card. We, therefore, recommend that you participate in the Green Card Lottery to get your Permanent Residence and, thus, your work permit for the USA faster and easier.

Tips for employers on the way to Labor Certification

The PERM process can be a real challenge for companies, but with the right approach, your employer can increase your chances of getting a certificate of employment (and, therefore, your employment with the company).

Here are some expert tips for the PERM process:

  • Working with an immigration attorney who specializes in Green Card applications can be of great help. Your future employer should, therefore, not choose just any lawyer but a Green Card professional.
  • The PERM process can be very time-consuming. Your future employer should therefore start early and allow plenty of time for each step.
  • Your US employer requires accurate documentation of all hiring efforts, including job postings, applications, and reasons for rejection from US citizens.
  • Even before your US employer begins the process, it must be clear that you meet the requirements for the position and that no American could do the job. Also include language requirements, cultural characteristics, or excellent market knowledge in some areas of the world in your argument.
  • Salary also plays a role in the PERM decision. Your US employer should seek advice from professionals who can help with the complexities of determining fair wages.

If your prospective US employer understands the intricacies of the PERM process, starts their efforts early, and follows the guidelines closely, then your chances of getting an employment-based Green Card are not so bad.

Just don't forget to always participate in the Green Card Lottery simultaneously because winning can get you an unlimited residence and work permit in the USA in the fastest way possible - without long waiting periods and expensive Labor Certification.

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