Can I Change Employers During the PERM Process?

Manoj Prasad

For foreign nationals seeking employment-based green cards in the United States, the Permanent Labor Certification, or PERM process, is a vital step. This is the first step towards getting permanent residency through employment, and it requires the support of the applicant’s company.

But what if you want to switch jobs in the middle of the PERM procedure? What are the ramifications if it is possible? This essay will discuss the challenges of switching jobs during the PERM procedure and offer advice on how to proceed.

Understanding the PERM Process

Let’s quickly review the PERM procedure before diving into the topic of switching jobs in the middle of the process. U.S. government agencies handle PERM applications.

Department of Labor (DOL) is meant to protect American workers from losing out to foreign nationals in the job market. There are a few crucial steps:

  1. Job Posting: The company should put up signs and run ads in publications that are read by people interested in the position, as is common practice in the field. Typical methods include publishing ads in print media, posting online, and contacting state employment organizations.
  2. Recruitment: The company is obligated to actively seek out suitable U.S. citizens to fill open positions. Possible steps include conducting interviews and evaluating candidate credentials.
  3. PERM Labor Certification Application: The company can then submit a PERM Labor Certification application to the DOL if they intend to hire a foreign national and there are no qualified U.S. workers for the position.
  4. DOL Review: The application is reviewed by the DOL to determine that the necessary steps have been taken to recruit and advertise for the position and that there is a bona fide need to hire a foreign worker.
  5. Approval: The next stage in applying for a green card is for the employer to file an I-140 Immigrant Petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if the PERM application has been approved by the Department of Labor.

Related: Who is Eligible for the PERM Process?

Now, let’s address the question of changing employers during this process.

Changing Employers During the PERM Process

Employer switching throughout the PERM procedure is conceivable, but it’s a complicated process that must be handled with care to avoid breaking any immigration rules. At this point, there are normally two possible reasons for a job switch:

1. Before PERM Approval

The procedure of switching jobs becomes much simpler if you do it before the DOL has approved your current employer’s PERM application.

The Department of Labor’s permission only applies to the sponsoring employer and the position being offered, so you are not required to remain employed by them.

You are free to look for work elsewhere, and your new employer is welcome to start a fresh PERM process on your behalf.

However, it’s essential to follow these steps:

a) Inform Your Current Employer: Keeping your present job in the loop is essential. Tell them you’ve accepted a new position elsewhere, and you want them to cancel your pending PERM application. This is the right and proper way to do things.

b) Restart the PERM Process: The PERM procedure must begin all over again with the new employer posting jobs and interviewing candidates. This is due to the fact that a PERM application that has already been approved can only be used for that specific business and job.

Related: What Are the Key Steps in the Perm Process?

2. After PERM Approval, But Before I-140 Filing

It is also conceivable, though more difficult, to switch jobs after the DOL has granted your PERM application but before your current employer files an I-140 immigrant petition. What you must know is as follows.

a) Portability: Under certain conditions, the “AC21 Portability” clause of immigration law permits certain foreign workers to switch companies. The filing of an I-485 Application to Adjust Status and the possession of a pending or authorized I-140 petition are two of the prerequisites for making use of this option.

b) Maintain Similar Job: Your new employment offer must be in a “similar occupational classification” to the one listed on your approved PERM application and I-140 petition for you to be eligible for AC21 Portability. This usually implies that one’s new position will have very similar responsibilities and prerequisites.

c) Notify USCIS: If you plan on leaving your current employer, you must inform USCIS. To do this, write a letter to USCIS detailing your new position, employer, and the ways in which they relate to your previously granted I-140 petition.

d) Risks and Challenges: There are potential downsides and difficulties associated with switching employers under AC21 Portability. You can have trouble getting your green card approved, for instance, if your new employer’s I-140 petition is rejected. In order to properly traverse this process, it is crucial to collaborate with seasoned immigration attorneys.

Related: What is the Timeline for the Perm Process?

The Bottom Line

It is feasible to switch companies during the PERM process with proper planning and compliance with immigration requirements. Whether you decide to switch jobs before or after PERM approval, it is imperative that you are honest with your present employer and meet all legal requirements.

If you want things to go smoothly and safeguard your road to permanent residency in the United States, you should consult with immigration attorneys who focus on employment-based immigration.

Keep in mind that immigration regulations can and do change, so it’s best to seek out the most up-to-date information and advice from professionals.

Related: PERM Processing Time: How Long Does it Take

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