3 Predictions for PERM Recruitment Post COVID-19 Pandemic

May 22, 2020

Photo credit: istock.com/Kiyoshi Tanno

As we enter a third month of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers are wondering what the future may hold for PERM recruitment.  With a potential recession looming over us, does that mean no more PERM applications, or even supervised recruitment after PERM applications have been submitted?

The rules for the PERM applications require employers to carefully test the labor market to ensure no qualified, able and willing US workers were overlooked for an advertised position.  When the economy is booming, workers can be much more selective in their pick of jobs.  On the flip side, when the economy falters, workers tend to be more willing to accept imperfect positions.

1. PERM Application Filings May Be Delayed

A PERM application can only be filed if an employer can demonstrate that it tested the labor market (by running a series of advertisements) and was unable to find any qualified US workers for the position.

During an economic downturn, employers who post job advertisements should expect to see a rise in applicants if the role is a popular position.  Qualified, willing and able US workers will ultimately obviate the need to permanently hire a foreign worker.  Employers should therefore carefully review its hiring needs before embarking on PERM processes; including reviewing and considering any previously laid off employees who might be qualified for an open position.

2. We Could We See an Increase in Audit Requests for PERM Applications

Recent headlines are predicting dire economic outlook:

  • White House Economist: Unemployment could hit 20% by June
  • Jobless claims may reach 30 million in 6 weeks as Covid-19 layoffs continue to soar
  • Coronavirus Layoffs: Lyft, Boeing Latest to Cut Workers Amid Pandemic
  • The coronavirus recession is unlike any economic downturn in U.S. history

The Department of Labor will be taking stock of these economic conditions and reviewing PERM applications accordingly.  Therefore, employers should be prepared to qualify their recruitment protocols if the Department of Labor requests to audit those protocols.

3. We Could See More Supervised Recruitment of PERM Applications

If we end up heading straight into a recession, the Department of Labor (DOL) may increase its request for supervised recruitment of a PERM application; which is basically a fancy way of asking an employer to conduct a second labor market test under the direct supervision of the DOL. The DOL will issue instructions for the employer to run a new set of ads. The DOL will review and approve the ad text and determine where and when the ad will run. For example, DOL has been known to instruct an employer to post the ad on 10 different job search websites, where it will most certainly be viewed by job seekers who are looking for employment.

Further, the ads will instruct applicants to send their resumes directly to DOL (usually through an unidentified P.O. Box or mailbox) and not to the employer. DOL will then review the resumes and forward them to the employer for evaluation. At the end of the day, if there are qualified U.S. worker applicants, the PERM application will not be approved.

In summary, navigating the PERM process has never been and will never be a straightforward process.  In times of economic constraint, it is more important than ever for employers to understand their options, their responsibilities to weigh the pros and cons of proceeding with a PERM application, and to be ready to defend their recruitment protocols.  There is no need to fear the PERM process when working with an experienced immigration attorney to help determine the proper strategy. The attorneys at Accel Visa Attorneys have experience with supervised recruitment and can properly advise you. Contact our experts to help develop a PERM strategy and guide you through the process.

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