PERM or the Program Electronic Review Management System is the new procedure implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to process and Alien Employment Certification (AEC) that has replaced the prior method of filing AEC applications referred to as Reduction in Recruitment (RIR). RIR was the preferred method of obtaining an AEC since 1996. The PERM process has now been effective since March 2005. As was the case under RIR, there are currently no government filing fees to file a PERM application.
The AEC is an official DOL finding that qualified and willing U.S. workers are not available to fill I the position in question and that the foreign national will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly situated U.S. workers in that occupation.
The DOL carefully reviews the PERM application for adequacy and completeness. The DOL ay perform an audit of the application and request that documentation of the application be submitted. The online system randomly selects cases for audit as well. When review is complete, the DOL will either issue its approval or other decision based on the merits of the application. Approved and certified applications are sent to the attorney of record on the case. The employer, employee and the attorney handling the PERM are required to sign the certified application before it can be submitted with the second stage of the permanent resident process, i.e. the I-140 visa petition.

Why Process a PERM?
One of the key advantages for an employer in recruiting qualified personnel in the current job market is the ability to provide immigration benefits to its employees. The employer will gain a competitive edge if it can provide permanent resident status to its nonimmigrant workforce. Many applicants will consider this as a key element in deciding whether to accept the job or apply elsewhere.

Factors to Consider
Like the prior AEC process, a U.S. employer must still demonstrate that the basic requirements for the position are not unduly restrictive and are justified by nature of the employers business. The PERM regulations allow an employer to justify its high requirements under the business necessity standard. To establish business necessity, an employer must establish that the minimum requirements for the position bear a reasonable relationship to the occupation, and are essential to perform the duties of the position. Business necessity documentation is required during a DOL audit.