In our last blog post, “Looking to Hire a Foreign National for a Permanent Position? Consider “PERM” as an Option”, we provided a general overview of the “PERM” process. What we did not mention to employers is that NOW is the perfect time to file a PERM case for someone whose skills you need.
Permanent employment-based immigration is set by law at a rate of 140,000 visas per year, and these are divided into 5 preferences (eligibility categories), each subject to numerical limitations. Those employment-based (“EB”) preferences requiring a PERM approval are most second and all third preference cases. Each of these preferences are allocated only 40,000 visas annually. In addition to the numerical limits placed upon the various immigration preferences, the law also places a limit on how many immigrants can come to the United States from any one country. Currently, no group of permanent immigrants from a single country can exceed 7% of the total number of people immigrating to the U.S. in a single year. Due to the disproportionate demand for immigrant visas from certain countries, including India, China, Mexico and the Philippines, nationals from these countries must ordinarily wait much longer than nationals from all other countries, known as “all chargeability” countries.
As mentioned in our previous blog, the third EB preference eligibility encompasses “professionals”, “skilled workers” and “other workers”. “Professional” positions require at least a Bachelor degree (or the foreign equivalent) in a specialty area. “Skilled worker” positions require at least 2 years of training or experience. “Other worker” positions, which are allocated only 5,000 of the 40,000 visas in third preference, are for positions which require less than 2 years or experience.
Due to the demand for third preference – eligible professionals and skilled workers, there has historically been a significant backlog in visa number availability in the third preference for applicants from all countries, even those from “all chargeability” countries. In January 2013, for example, the waiting period for “all chargeability” third preference applicants was almost 6 years. In January 2014, it was 21 months. In January 2015, it was 19 months. For January 2016, it is only 3 months!
So, it you, as an employer, have a need for a skilled worker or professional who is not from India, China or the Philippines, NOW is the time to initiate a PERM case. Similarly, if you are a skilled tradesperson or professional who is not from one of the over – subscribed countries, NOW is the time to ask your employer to initiate a PERM case. This is particularly good news for highly trained and skilled German tradespersons, who, because of the superb German dual educational system, have skills which are in short supply in the U.S. The same is true of many other Europeans.