The PERM process is not a short process even in the best of times. It usually takes several months to put together and file. There is a mandatory 60 day advertising and recruitment period. Prior to that, you need to determine the job description and file and receive back the prevailing wage request. This usually takes a couple weeks to put together and about 60 days. So overall that is about 5 months just to prepare and file a PERM labor certification. While the Department of Labor (DOL), the agency that processes PERM cases, was processing these cases fairly quickly even as recently as June or July of this year, things have slowed down precipitously, making this process even longer in duration.
As of the time of this writing, the most recent DOL information, published on December 6, 2013, states that the DOL are processing PERM cases filed on or before April, 2013 (they do not indicate where in April they are currently processing). This means it is taking them at least 10 months to process such cases. In September of this year they were processing cases filed as of February 28, 2013. So even over the last couple of months it appears that some additional ground was lost. One should keep in mind, however, that the DOL was not processing PERM cases for about two weeks in October due to the government shutdown, which did greatly impact the processing times. DOL processing times can be obtained by visiting the iCert WebSite, and then selecting the PERM & PW Processing Times tab. These timelines are updated on an inconsistent basis, so you do need to check back frequently to see if changes have been made.
For cases that are being audited, the DOL is currently working on cases filed in October of 2012, making the processing time for these cases over 1 year in length.
Because of the lengthy wait period for the approval of the labor certification, it is more important to carefully plan out how your employee (or if you are the employee, how you) will remain in valid non-immigrant status and continue to be able to work in the interim. It is also important to monitor the timelines carefully for any movements, positive or negative, that can impact when you file the next step, or how long you need to maintain another status.