Question: I am currently on TN status and my company wants to start the green card process for me. Before the I-140 immigrant worker petition is filed, they need me to sign the PERM form, which has a declaration stating that I want to become a permanent resident based on this job. To me this sounds like an intention to become an immigrant. Does signing the PERM document constitute an intention to become an immigrant? An immigration officer at the US-Canadian border told me that signing the PERM form constitutes intent to remain in the U.S. permanently.
Answer: Signing the Form ETA 9089 for permanent labor certification in and of itself should not warrant the denial of a TN application on the grounds of immigrant intent.
The regulations do provide that a TN applicant cannot intend to establish permanent residence in the U.S. and must satisfy the inspecting officer that the proposed stay is temporary and has a finite end. See 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 (b). However, the regulations do not prohibit an applicant for a TN from possessing intent to immigrate in the future: “An intent to immigrate in the future which is in no way connected to the proposed immediate trip need not in itself result in a finding that the immediate trip is not temporary. An extended stay, even in terms of years, may be temporary, as long as there is no immediate intent to immigrate.” 9 FAM § 41.59 N5.
PERM is only the first stage in the three-step process for a green card. When you sign the ETA 9089, all you are declaring is that in the future, if the LC is approved, an I-140 is approved, and a visa number becomes available and you are granted a visa or an adjustment of status based on the PERM application, you intend to accept the permanent position offered in the ETA 9089. This declaration can by no means be considered indicia of an immediate intent to immigrate to the U.S. Furthermore, U.S. immigration officials have stated that even an approved I-140 immigrant worker petition is not conclusive evidence of immigrant intent.
Read more about NAFTA TN status and permanent residency (green card).