Labor Certification is a formal process in the United States, governed by the Department of Labor (DOL), intended to protect the domestic labor market by ensuring that foreign workers do not displace or adversely affect job opportunities, wages, and working conditions of U.S. workers. The process is a key step for employers who wish to hire foreign nationals on a permanent basis under certain immigrant visa categories.
The Labor Certification procedure involves the employer demonstrating that there are insufficient qualified, willing, and available U.S. workers to fill the position being offered at the prevailing wage, and that hiring a foreign worker will not negatively impact the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. It is a pivotal part of the process for obtaining an employment-based green card.
The process is administered through the DOL’s Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) system. The employer is required to conduct a series of recruitment activities to test the labor market before filing the labor certification application. These include job postings, newspaper advertisements, and direct contact with potential candidates.
Once the recruitment process is completed, the employer must document the results and, if unable to find a willing, qualified, and able U.S. worker for the position, can submit an application for Labor Certification to the DOL. The application should demonstrate the recruitment process, wage determination, and evidence of business necessity, among other things.
Once the Labor Certification application is approved, the employer can proceed with filing an immigrant petition (Form I-140) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Only upon approval of both the Labor Certification and the immigrant petition can the foreign national apply for an immigrant visa or adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
It is important to note that the Labor Certification process does not apply to all employment-based immigrant visa categories. Some categories, like the EB-1 category for priority workers, do not require a Labor Certification.
In summary, Labor Certification is a crucial process that enables U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals by demonstrating that their employment will not negatively impact U.S. workers. It necessitates careful navigation of complex regulations, extensive documentation, and thorough recruitment activities. Its successful completion is an essential step towards permanent residency for many foreign workers, enabling them to contribute their skills and expertise to the U.S. labor market.