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Immigration Resources

What to Know About Changing Employers During PERM Process

Posted by Kripa Upadhyay | Oct 29, 2021

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When you're seeking an employment-based green card or legal permanent residence in the United States, you'll need to go through the process of verifying your employment and other vital information. The United States government will then validate that your job is verified and sponsor you if necessary. However, there are times when employers and jobs change. If you are in the middle of the verification process, you may question whether you can change your job and what will happen if you switch employers.

If you decide to change your employment while the U.S. government is in the middle of verifying your job, it's important to understand the procedure. Changing jobs under PERM is certainly possible, but it can be complicated, especially without professional help. Fortunately, all of your questions can be answered with the help of an immigration attorney. Each person, their position, and their job are unique, so discussing your best options with an experienced attorney can help you feel more confident in your choice and in the PERM process. 

What Exactly is the PERM Labor Certification?

PERM stands for Program Electronic Review Management process. It is one of the first steps taken when a foreign national seeks lawful permanent residence in the United States based on employment. The process allows the Department of Labor (DOL) to obtain Labor Certification and track the employment of legal permanent residents in the United States. The DOL uses this to see who employs these individuals, their income, and the location of where they work.

It is crucial for the United States to verify the validity of employment for foreign nationals. The primary purpose of PERM is to make sure employers aren't taking advantage of the immigration system to find labor that is less expensive and unregulated. When employers use the system and pay foreign nationals meager wages with little cost, they harm both immigrant and American workers. 

Can I Change Jobs During the PERM Approval?

If you are in the process of a PERM approval with your current employer, your approval can be affected by the change in jobs. The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) allows an individual to seek new employment if they meet the following conditions:

  1. New employment is the "same or similar" occupational classification
  2. Form I-140 is approved when filed concurrently with I-485
  3. Form I-485 has been pending for at least 180 days calendar days. The clock begins with the "Received Date" of your I-485 application, indicated in your I-797 receipt notice.

It's also important to note that your new job doesn't have to be in the same geographical location as your previous job. Likewise, a new Labor Certification isn't required from the new company.

What Does a “Same of Similar” Job Mean?

As noted, your new job must be the "same or similar" as your previous job. However, this classification is vague, so it's crucial that you understand its meaning before switching roles. While there isn't yet a concrete definition of "same or similar," USCIS adjudicators generally consider the following factors:

  • Job description: Your new job duties must be relatively similar to what's listed in your I-140 or labor certification (ETA 750 or PERM).
  • DOT code and/or SOC code: The employment classification code assigned to the labor certification will be used to determine whether the new employment is the same or similar occupational classification.
  • Wage information: Just as your job description will be evaluated, so will your salary. For example, if your new salary is significantly higher, you may not be considered. Nevertheless, it's important to note that your new salary doesn't have to be exactly the same as what you had previously.

The petitioning entity for the PERM application is the employer, so they own the Labor Certification Application. While the new company is not required to submit a new Labor Certification, the old employer can revoke the current petition. So, a critical step to take is contacting and notifying your employment change with the USCIS under AC21.

How Can an Immigration Attorney Help You Change Employers During the PERM Process?

If you are transferring to a new company, you will want an immigration lawyer to help navigate the transition between jobs. Making sure that your PERM process is straightforward is essential to receiving a Green Card. A few of the many ways an immigration lawyer can assist with your application are:

  • Answer any of your questions
  • Find potential legal issues
  • Gather information and evidence
  • Review legal documents
  • Guide visas and permits

The immigration process can have a lot of challenging and complex steps to consider. From legal issues to gathering the necessary information, having a legal representative on your side can help make the process feel less daunting.

Trust an Orbit Law Immigration Lawyer to Help Your Case Today

When you work with an experienced immigration lawyer at Orbit Law, you can feel confident that you will have the tools and resources to have a successful immigration application. Becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States is an exciting process. However, those who are unfamiliar with the steps or documents needed can feel stressed. Our team wants to make you feel at ease, so we offer our services in various languages, including English, Hindi, Nepali, Punjabi, Spanish, and Urdu.  

Call (206) 312-8086 or fill out our contact form to learn how our dependable team can assist with your immigration application.

About the Author

Kripa Upadhyay

Kripa Upadhyay Founder/Attorney [email protected] EDUCATION Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, WA, Juris Doctor (JD)  May 2007 ADMISSIONS Washington State Bar Association: Admitted May 2008 U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Washington: Admitted 2009 U.S...