Positions that require at least a Master’s degree and have a Specific Vocational Preparation [hereinafter SVP] code of 8 or higher and which are to be filed by an alien who has a U.S. Master’s degree or higher should be automatically exempt from the PERM requirement. The Department of Labor created SVP codes with 9 levels. The employer would file directly with the U.S. CIS an I-140 Petition and Wage Determination. The employer would also be required to pay an additional $2,500 fee to the U.S. CIS which could be used to create higher education scholarship funds or training for U.S. workers.
The PERM process is burdensome and unnecessary for industries that have a clear shortage of applicants with a specific skill set. Moreover, the Department of Labor will have fewer applications for the PERM Process while still controlling the application process for permanent residency as the Department of Labor can continually adjust the “short list” of skilled jobs needed in the U.S. economy.
This chapter will primarily focus on obtaining permanent residency via Program Electronic Review Management [hereinafter PERM] certification process for skilled workers, professionals, and advance degree holders. Currently, (other than National Interest Waiver Cases) any such PERM case must be first certified by the Department of Labor. This process can take several months and often costs thousands of dollars in advertising and other fees.
We would have the Department of Labor to issue an annual list of occupations that have been clearly recognized as in “short demand” for each state. The list would also include the Department of Labor’s findings on what the minimum requirement for the position should be as well as the minimum wage. As these occupations would be recognized by the Department of Labor as in demand, the standard labor certification process of pre-advertising and wage requirement would be omitted.
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The U.S. CIS time and cost savings would be achieved by not physically opening the application in the mail room and distributing the application to the proper department, manually processing the fee payments, scanning the paper case back into its own databases/systems, and searching for the hard file of the case. Instead this time can be spent on reviewing the cases which are already electronically filed, paid for, and already in PDF format.
Furthermore, U.S. CIS would save on mailing cost, paper cost, and ink and toner cost, and would be more environmentally friendly.
It is also important to note that transition to the above-described e-process should not be difficult. We are aware that the U.S. CIS is trying to transition to e-filings; however, we believe the process is too slow and perhaps its design is unnecessarily complicated.
Simple is better. There is no need, for example, for the U.S. CIS Web site to (at this stage) have e-filed forms which have to be completed on the U.S. CIS Web site. The U.S. CIS can simply allow petitioners and attorneys to register with their Web site (simple online form registration) and submit the U.S. CIS forms, credit card payment form, and supporting documents as PDF files. This process can be implemented immediately.
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By utilizing readily-available and inexpensive technological solutions, the entire immigrant and non-immigrant process can be made cost and time efficient and provide a better “user experience” both for the petitioner and the U.S. CIS processing officers.
For example, let us take a look at the above-described process of filing an I-129 L-1A application. Instead of relying on paper filings and the old methods of duplicate hard copies and regular mail correspondence, the process can easily be converted to an online secure experience. The above-described filing/processing steps would be amended in the following manner:
- Petitioner and/or attorney register for an online account with the U.S. CIS (one-time registration);
- Petitioner files online Form I-129, pays processing fee online by credit card, and attaches supporting documents via PDF files which can either be directly uploaded to the U.S. CIS Web site or via third-party file upload service that would provide such service to the U.S. CIS (such as www.yousendit.com or www.dropbox.com which are used throughout the private sector);
- The U.S. CIS approves the file and emails the petitioner or the attorney Form I-797 in PDF format with included “bar code” which can be scanned by the U.S. CIS/ICE Officers at the port of entry or U.S. Embassy;
- If the U.S. CIS needs to request additional evidence before the case is approved, it would email the petitioner/attorney and the petitioner or his or her attorney could respond again via the online account and upload the PDF files. The attorney or petitioner can confirm receipt of the email; if there is no confirmation of the U.S. CIS email, the application can revert back to a mailing notice;
- If there is a breakdown in communication by either party, the case can always revert back to present mailing process. Therefore, the new procedure can be implemented immediately since the old mailing process will stay in effect as a default procedure.