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Foreign nationals who are skilled or educated and who have a job offer from a U.S. entity may have the possibility of immigrating to the United States. The prospective employer must first obtain a labor certification and approval of a petition. The labor certification process is one of the most complex of all immigration-related procedures. 

What is a Labor Certification?

An approved labor certification is a document issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, certifying that:

•   An employer needs the foreign worker's skills and abilities;

•    The employer has tried to recruit U.S. workers for the position;

•    The employer has offered the position at the normal prevailing wage; 

•    The employer has found no qualified U.S. workers.

What happens after Labor Certification approval?

The approved Labor Certifciation is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service along with an immigrant petition to determine whether the foreign national qualifies for one of the following categories of sponsorship:

•    Members of the Professions with advanced degrees or the equivalent of Aliens of Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business ("Second preference); or

•    Professionals (jobs requiring a bachelor's degree); Skilled workers (jobs requiring two years or more training or experience); or Unskilled workers(jobs requiring less than two years training or experience).

If the immigrant petition is approved, the foreign national then may apply for permanent residence either through adjustment of status or consular processing, upon the priority date becoming current. The priority date is the date that the labor certification was filed. 

Common Misunderstandings:
An approved labor certification is proof that there is a shortage of U.S. workers. It is only a first step in the permanent residence process. It does not give authorization for a foreign national to remain in the U.S. It does not "legalize" anyone's stay in the U.S. It does not grant permission to work and it does not guarantee permanent residence.