By REMODELING Magazine Staff. Sponsoring an immigrant employee for permanent residency is a lengthy and often frustrating process. But then, so is finding and keeping any quality employee. Many remodelers have attempted the former in the hopes of accomplishing the latter.

Richard Evons, president of the Evista Group, in Long Island, recently sponsored a Polish plaster specialist. â??He's taken on more responsibility and a higher paying position, and he's become even more valuable to us,â?? Evons says.

Tueta Norman, an immigration lawyer with the Portland, Ore., firm Norman Hecht stresses that the process can take as long as three years. â??You have to make sure before even starting the process that you really want this person to work for you,â?? she says.

Norman recommends starting a labor certification process after establishing a sound working relationship with the worker. The application is more likely to succeed, she says, if the employer can truly claim the worker has acquired several skills while at the company that an outside applicant is unlikely to offer.

It's also essential for the employer to remember that he must pay the position the prevailing wage and must demonstrate the ability to pay that wage with either a tax return or income statement.

Most important, Norman says, the worker cannot work at the company during the labor certification process unless he has a work permit.