As reported in minutes from a recent stakeholders meeting, officials from the Employment and Training Administration's Office of Foreign Labor Certification dashed any hopes for significant change to the current Permanent Labor Certification ("PERM") program. Publication of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making may be possible before the end of this calendar year, but the Office of Foreign Labor Certificate has indicated it is "highly unlikely" that any final rule could be implemented before the change in administrations.
The PERM program is the first step in obtaining employment-based permanent resident status for the majority of foreign-born skilled workers in the U.S. The current regulations have not been updated in well over a decade, despite how much has changed in our economy and industry recruitment practices. Many employers criticize the current regulations as out of step with worker or industry needs and conditions.
In connection with President Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration, originally introduced in November 2014, the Department of Labor ("DOL") announced it would conduct a review of the PERM program and regulations and seek input from stakeholders on how the regulations could be modernized to be more responsive to the realities of our current national workforce. Among the topics discussed at several listening sessions with DOL included the handling of harmless errors, recruitment venues, addressing audit backlogs, and the retroactive application of new policies. We will continue to update you in our newsletter when DOL finally publishes a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the modernization of the PERM system.