September 20, 2013
University and college teachers and professors may have access to an easier and faster path to PERM labor certification by taking advantage of a unique process known as special handling, which provides for a special selection and recruitment process that is unique to university and college teachers. Although teachers and professors can of course use normal PERM processing, the special handling process has several advantages over the normal process.
During a normal PERM application recruitment process, if a job application is filed by a US applicant who meets the minimum requirements for the position, this is a problem that puts the whole labor certification in jeopardy because the US Department of Labor (DOL) will deny certification when a qualified US applicant is available to fill the position.
Special handling uses “competitive recruitment” or “special recruitment”
This is where special handling processing can prove invaluable. Unlike a normal PERM, the employer can simply reject a US applicant even when that applicant meets the minimum requirements for the position. This is because the standard is different for special handling. The standard is no longer whether the US applicant meets the requirements of the job. The standard becomes whether the US applicant is more qualified for the job than the foreign national beneficiary is. This important distinction can save an otherwise doomed PERM labor certification when there are other US applicants qualified to fill the position.
Special handling recruitment requirements are much more relaxed
Normal PERM rules put strict requirements on the employer’s entire recruitment process that must be followed to the letter because even one small deviation or mistake can result in the entire application being denied, which will require the employer to start the process all over again from the beginning.
The beauty of special handling is that it is basically a PERM without recruitment. This is because the university or college can use the recruitment it has already conducted prior to filing the PERM application and submit that as documentary evidence to the DOL of recruitment for purposes of labor certification. Bona fide prior recruitment that was used previously to employ the foreign national can be included as part of the PERM recruitment process so long as it is not more than 14 months old. The only additional recruitment requirement under special handling is that the employer must place a single advertisement in a national professional journal. That’s it.Only college and university teachers get special handling
According to federal regulation, only college and university teachers may take advantage of special handling PERM processing. Community and junior college teachers may qualify as well provided that college credit can be transferred toward a baccalaureate degree. Even entities that are not institutions of higher education can qualify so long as they conduct a teaching program that meets certain criteria, such as hospitals that have program to teach medical students. Elementary and secondary schools are not eligible.
Any college or university faculty may qualify for special handling provided that the position involves some amount of teaching, even if the majority of that position’s duties involve activities other than teaching, like research for example. Tenure is not required.
PERM applications are extremely complicated, especially when taking on a unique area of immigration law such as this. It is important to select an attorney who is capable of completely understanding and distinguishing between normal PERM processing and special handling in order to fully take advantage of all the features that may prove favorable to your case.