There are generally two ways of getting U.S. permanent residency. The first method is through a petition by a relative. The second is through a sponsorship by a U.S. employer. When an employer wishes to “sponsor” a foreign national for permanent residence in the United States, the first step is to file an application with the Department of Labor (DOL) for a permanent employment certification or labor certification. This certification means that there are no United States workers who are able, willing, and qualified for the position being offered to the foreign national.
The labor certification process was overhauled in 2005 and is now called the Program Electronic Review Management System or PERM. The purpose and goal of the labor certification process remains the same but the method by which to test the labor market and to prove compliance has been changed.
The employer must prove to the DOL that it has made a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers, but that there are no U.S. workers available or willing to take the job. This is generally accomplished by advertising in newspapers in general circulation in the area of intended employment, by a job posting with the State, and by other means that are normal for the occupation.