PERM Processing Times Substantially Reduced

As some MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers certainly have experienced firsthand, PERM labor certification processing times have greatly improved during 2011. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is making a concerted effort to reduce their backlog in the processing of PERMs, and the results are showing in the PERM processing times. As explained here, this may be the right time for some of those considering filing for PERM to try to take advantage of the improvement in PERM processing timeframes.

Recent History of PERM Backlogs

While there have been times since the initiation of PERM when processing times have met the stated goals of 45 to 60 days, many MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers are more familiar with the recent history of extended processing backlogs. These backlogs are described in our news article, Labor Certification Processing Time Explanation (18.Jun.2010). That article, written just nine months ago, relays that, at the time, PERM cases were taking ten months for processing at the DOL, even without an audit.

Analyst Reviews are Fast for PERM Filings

PERM processing times are, essentially, current at this time. This is based upon our experience and official Department of Labor (DOL) information. The DOL had posted a processing time update, dated February 4, 2011, which reflected case processing for February 2011 filings. At the time of this writing, the February update has been removed and replaced information from January 2011. We are seeking clarification. The processing times can be found on the Department of Labor (DOL) WebSite in the iCert portal. We have found that these processing times fairly accurately reflect our real-life experience with our clients’ cases.

Given the absence of a backlog in adjudication of PERM cases, as of this writing, PERM filings that are not being audited are being approved well within the 45 to 60 day PERM processing goals. In many instances, the PERM cases are processed to approval by the DOL in a matter of weeks or even days. Therefore, the shorter period for processing makes this an attractive time for employers who are contemplating PERM filings. These processing times are subject to change, based on workload as well as DOL policies and procedures. Of course, preparation of PERM cases prior to filing remains a time-consuming process, as explained in our news article, Immigration Basics: PERM Labor Certifications Process (24.Sep.2010).

DOL Policy on Audits

Although the DOL has a first-in / first-out (FIFO) policy there is an enormous difference in processing times for PERM cases that are undergoing the audit process. As explained above, many PERM cases are being approved in a matter of weeks or days of filing. Cases that undergo an audit, however, remain backlogged for, approximately, a two-year processing timeframe.

As of this writing, the DOL is processing audited PERM cases with priority dates in January 2009. This information posted recently on the iCert portal. As mentioned above, older processing time information is currently appearing on the DOL WebSite. As part of the FIFO system, the audited cases are processed based on priority date, not the date the audit response was transmitted to the DOL.

Standard Appeals Take More Than Two Years

Previously denied PERM cases undergoing standard appeals are backlogged by two and a half years. The previously-posted February 2011 processing information reflects that the DOL is currently processing these PERM cases with June 2008 priority dates. Given these lengthy processing times, it is often necessary for those with PERM denials to decide whether or not it is worth challenging the denial to retain the earlier priority date, or whether it would be better to try a fresh PERM filing. We at the Murthy Law Firm are often contacted after a PERM case is denied to help assess the options and likelihood of success on appeal.

Reminder: Employer Needs to Check the Status of Cases Regularly

As stated previously, employers filing PERM cases should regularly monitor case statuses. We at the Murthy Law Firm routinely check case statuses on behalf of clients for whom we have filed PERM applications. The reason for this is that, on occasion, there is an error in the transmission of a PERM approval. Should this occur, the PERM approval still expires in 180 days if the I-140 employer petition has not been filed. Therefore, it is important to periodically check each pending PERM case.


The return of faster PERM processing times is beneficial to employers and employees. This allows all involved to know promptly whether a case will be successful, so that plans can be made. The current PERM processing timeframes were the intended goal when the PERM system was implemented in 2005. We at the Murthy Law Firm are pleased that PERM processing times have improved, and will continue to monitor these times to help you plan for the future.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.