California and the San Francisco area are known as sanctuaries, meaning they have developed a subset of laws enacted to protect immigrants who may be subject to federal regulations. While states have the ability to fashion their own laws, when those statutes conflict with established federal guidelines, knowing which law to follow is a tricky question. In recent years, sanctuary cities and states have developed an uneasy relationship with federal authorities and employers sometimes are caught in the middle.
In an area like San Francisco where there are many immigrants — both documented and undocumented — understanding the PERM advertising requirements for Bay Area agencies is critical. The PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) process applies to hiring workers in need of a green card or work visa. It is a U.S. Department of Labor’s labor certification system intended to ensure that all employers follow federal hiring rules.
Since the PERM process is costly and paper work intensive, every employer should verify that a prospective hire requires a work visa or green card before undertaking the expense. Generally, the program applies to foreign workers seeking permanent residency based on employment status.
Know Who PERM Applies To
Not every foreign job candidate will need to complete the PERM application. In some cases, a worker may be eligible for various exemptions that can save both time and money in the hiring process. Several categories of workers do not need PERM certification:
- Intra-company transfers for multinational executives
- Religious workers
- Professors and researchers
- Some family-based petitions
- Investors and other special waiver cases for national interests
Knowing which specific workers and categories are exempt from PERM processing can save a human resource department a lot of time and money. Of course, consulting in-house counsel or an immigration lawyer may be the best choice when there are questions as to a worker’s green card or visa status.
In addition to knowing the PERM application process, PERM advertising requirements, especially in the Bay Area, can have a legal effect on hiring, too. For companies that regularly hire foreign workers, reaching them through ads is full of regulatory pitfalls.
Before the hiring process even begins, PERM requires that U.S. employers not solicit foreign workers seeking permanent residency who may displace the domestic workforce. Therefore, the language of an ad must meet very specific Department of Labor standards so that a company does not appear to be favoring immigrant workers or those seeking green cards.
Relying on an agency familiar with PERM advertising requirements or an attorney familiar with immigration issues is a necessity for some companies. As with any government regulation, missed legal loopholes and violations can be costly.