Posted On: October 31, 2008

BALCA upholds denial of LC based on suspension of counsel

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently upheld the Final Determination
of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “tailor – textile, apparel & furnishing worker.” This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

In the aforementioned case, the employer, a warehouse filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in April of 2001. In December 2001, the employer requested conversion to “reduction in recruitment” processing by letter and attached a new ETA 750A Form. In July 2005, the Philadelphia Backlog Processing Center sent a letter to the employer requesting a response to whether or not the employer wished to continue to pursue the application. Counsel for the employer responded indicating that it wished to continue processing the application, and that a new attorney was entering an appearance on behalf of the Employer and the Alien because their previous attorney was no longer practicing law. New counsel submitted both the original ETA 750-A and B forms and new ETA 750A and B forms because the originals were not of high quality and included several omissions or incomplete answers. Subsequently in September 2006, the CO issued a Notice of Findings (NOF). The NOF indicated that the previous attorney who represented the employer and the alien had been suspended from practicing law, and therefore requested the Employer to indicate whether it wish to withdraw the application, remove the attorney and continue without representation or identify a new representative and continue with processing. Additionally, the CO indicated that additional information was required to determine if the application represented a bona fide job opportunity open to qualified U.S. workers. Specifically, nine items of documentation were listed. The ninth item stated, “If you are represented by new counsel, please submit an updated G-28 form. Please note that representation by new counsel does not cure the above finding. The CO emphasized that the information requested must be provided in order to rebut the NOF. The NOF was addressed and mailed to the previous attorney rather than the employer’s new counsel. In the rebuttal, the Employer argued that the NOF was inconsistent with the July 2005 letter. Thereafter, the CO issued a final determination denying the application because the employer failed to provide the information requested in the NOF. The Employer requested BALCA review.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that an employer’s failure to produce documentation reasonably requested by the CO will result in a denial of labor certification. An employer has the burden to satisfactorily respond or rebut to all findings in the NOF. In the instant case, the CO issued the NOF proposing to deny certification based on the fact that the previous attorney had represented the petitioning employer. Previous counsel’s involvement raised the question of whether the application presented bona fide employment. The NOF clearly indicated that the fact that an employer might obtain new counsel would not be considered a sufficient rebuttal to the NOF. While the NOF erroneously failed to acknowledge the fact that the Employer had obtained new counsel, it clearly gave the Employer notice of the basis upon which the decision to issue the NOF was made. The NOF specifically indicated the additional information that the CO sought to make its final determination on the application.

Accordingly, since the employer did not submit all the information requested, the CO’s findings are deemed admitted. Since the Employer did not submit the requested documentation on rebuttal to establish a bona fide job opportunity exists, a remand for supervised recruitment is not warranted.

Posted On: October 28, 2008

DHS Issues Supplemental Final Rule with Guidance For Employers Who Receive Social Security ‘No-Match’ Letters

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently issued a Supplemental Final Rule that provides additional background and analysis for the department’s No-Match Rule. The regulation clarifies what steps reasonable employers can take to resolve discrepancies identified in ‘no-match’ letters issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Additionally, it provides guidance to help businesses comply with legal requirements intended to reduce the illegal employment of unauthorized workers.

At the present moment, implementation of the No-Match Rule has been stayed following a preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. This Supplemental Final Rule addresses the issues raised by the Court, including a more detailed analysis of how the department developed the no-match policy and a detailed economic analysis of the rule. Within the next few weeks, DHS intends to return to the District Court to request that the injunction be lifted so that implementation of the rule can proceed.

According to DHS, the No-Match Rule details steps employers may take when they receive a “no-match” letter and guarantees that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will consider employers who follow those steps to have acted reasonably. If an employer follows the safe harbor procedures in good faith, ICE will not use the employer’s receipt of a no-match letter as evidence to find that the employer violated the employment provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by knowingly employing unauthorized workers.

To clarify, at this time, the final rule has not been implemented. If and when the District Court lifts the injunction, the final rule will be implemented.

Please refer to the DHS website for a complete reading of the Supplemental Final Rule

Posted On: October 27, 2008

BALCA upholds denial of LC because proffered position not full-time as required by regulations

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently upheld the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “Ethnic Singer/Entertainer.” This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

In the aforementioned case, the employer, a restaurant/nightclub filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in April of 2001. In June 2006, the CO issued a Notice of Findings (NOF) proposing to deny certification on the basis that the job was not full-time. Accordingly, the position could not be considered permanent because it did not involve full-time work during the entire year. The CO provided the employer with specific instructions in the NOF to rebut the findings. Specifically, the CO requested evidence that the position as performed in the employer’s establishment constitutes full-time employment as required by the regulations, evidence such as a daily/weekly/ work schedule, and proof that the job was previously filled by an incumbent on a full-time basis before the alien was hired, etc and proof of recruitment efforts. In its rebuttal, the Employer provided the performance schedule of the alien, contending that the position was a full-time position, and provided the CO with the recruitment report. The Employer also suggested that since the Department of Labor (DOL) had previously approved a similar petition, accordingly, this petition should be approved. Subsequently, the CO issued a Final Determination denying certification. The CO stated that the NOF had clearly identified two violations: the employer’s failure to demonstrate that the petition was full-time employment as required by the regulations, and that the Employer had not engaged in adequate recruitment efforts. The CO determined that the Employer had rebutted the second violation by providing the recruitment report; however, the Employer did not successfully rebut the first violation. The CO further explained that an employer’s failure to produce documentation that is requested by the CO and that has a direct bearing on the resolution of an issue, is a ground for denial of certification. Thereafter, the Employer requested BALCA review.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that the employer has the burden of demonstrating that it meets the definition of employer and that the position that is offered is both permanent and full-time as required under the regulations. The Board’s caselaw provides that if an employer offers, for example, only a 25 hour a week work week, then section 656.3 may be properly cited by the CO as a ground for denying labor certification. In the instant case, the Employer only offered 20 hours of work per week. Additionally, the Employer failed to provide all of the documentation that was reasonably requested by the CO in the NOF.

The CO correctly determined that the Employer failed to establish that the position constitutes full-time employment. Accordingly, labor certification was properly denied.


*In support of its request for review of the Final Determination, the Employer submitted an amended proposed performance scheduled to reflect additional hours. The Board, however, does not have the authority to consider evidence that is first submitted with the employer’s request for BALCA review or with the brief on appeal.

Posted On: October 24, 2008

BALCA upholds Final Determination finding lack of good faith in recruitment

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently upheld the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “Operations Foreman.” This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

In the aforementioned case, the employer, a metals distributor filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in April of 2001. The LC was denied on three grounds. First, the Employer did not recruit in good faith because it had only tried to contact applicants by telephone, and had not attempted the alternative of writing to those applicants. The CO found that the Employer’s rebuttal response, which was an offer to re-advertise, was not a remedy for lack of good faith in recruitment. The CO also denied the LC based on the Employer’s rejection of U.S. applicants for lacking experience not specified as a job requirement in the ETA Form 750A, and its failure to establish that the Alien had such experience prior to being hired by the Employer. Thereafter, the Employer requested BALCA review.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that an employer must take steps to ensure that it has obtained lawful job-related reasons for rejecting U.S. applicants, and did not stop short of fully investigating an applicant’s qualifications. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 656.21(b)(6), an employer must show that U.S. applicants were rejected solely for lawful job related reasons. Case law provides that although the regulations do not explicitly state a “good faith” requirement in regards to post-filing recruitment, such a good faith requirement is implicit. The Board’s case law states that an employer who does no more than make unanswered phone calls or leaves a message on an answering machine has not made a reasonable effort to contact the U.S. worker. In such a case, the employer should follow up with a letter.

A look at case law reveals that a CO is not required to permit an employer to re-advertise where the citation is grounded in a lack of good faith recruitment. Due to the fact that the CO was not obligated to permit the Employer to re-advertise to cure a lack of good faith recruitment efforts, the Board affirmed the denial of certification.

Posted On: October 23, 2008

BALCA vacates Final Determination and remands for proper procedures to re-advertise

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently vacated the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “Fabric and Apparel Patternmaker.” This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

In the aforementioned case, the employer, a garment manufacturer and wholesaler filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in February of 2003. In the application, the employer required two years of experience in the job offered. In the Notice of Findings (“NOF”) issued in June 2007, the CO found that the Employer’s advertisement did not meet the criteria for certification because the advertisement did not state the minimum job requirements that appeared on Form ETA 750, Part A. On the LC, the job requirements included two years of experience with no formal education required. Whereas, the advertisement; however, listed the requirements for the job as “2 years exp/AA degree.” The CO stated that it was unduly restrictive to advertise for job requirements in excess of those that were specified on the original LC. To respond to the NOF, the CO stated that the Employer was required to provide a copy of the advertisement and internal posting notice that was placed during the 30 day recruitment period. Additionally, the CO stated that the advertisement must reflect the same job requirements that were stated by the Employer on ETA Form 750-A. In response to the NOF, the Employer submitted a rebuttal which explained that the additional education requirement was a clerical error made at the Employer’s law firm. To rectify the mistake, the Employer drafted another advertisement and ran the new advertisement for three days in June of 2007. Subsequently, the CO issued a Final Determination in July of 2007. In the Final Determination the CO found that the Employer’s rebuttal evidence did not correct the deficiencies raised in the NOF. Specifically, the Employer re-advertised without permission or obtaining further instructions. Thereafter, the matter was referred to BALCA for review. In its request for review, the Employer argued that the NOF did not state that permission to re-advertise was required, nor did it state when or how to obtain permission to re-advertise.

Upon BALCA review, pursuant to the regulations at 20 C.F.R. § 656.25(c), if a CO does not grant certification, an NOF must be issued which states: (1) the date on which the NOF was issued; (2) the specific grounds for issuing the NOF; and (3) the date by which a rebuttal must be made. Specifically, the NOF must give notice which is adequate to provide the employer an opportunity to rebut or cure the alleged defects. An adequate notice of deficiencies should identify the section or subsection allegedly violated, the nature of the violation, the evidence supporting the challenge, and instructions for rebutting or curing the violation.

From the record, it was clear that the NOF listed the sections allegedly violated, the nature of the violation, and the evidence supporting the challenge. However, the NOF included only one set of instructions for rebutting the violation – to submit evidence contradicting the findings. In this case, the Employer admitted that the alleged violation had occurred. The problem is that the NOF did not include any instructions for curing the violation if the Employer agreed such a violation had occurred. The Board’s caselaw, permits an error in recruitment to be cured, if appropriate, by re-advertisement during the rebuttal period.

Accordingly, the Board found that the Employer’s re-advertisement as submitted in its rebuttal evidence establishes the Employer’s intention to correct the advertisement deficiencies noted in the NOF. Due to these circumstances, the Final Determination was wrongly issued by the CO in that it failed to include instructions on how to re-advertise. The Board stated that the CO should have issued a second NOF clarifying what actions the Employer could take to cure the admitted defects.

Posted On: October 8, 2008

The E-3 Australian Professional Visa

The E-3 visa is a visa granted to Australian professionals for specialty occupations. The procedure of obtaining an E-3 visa is very similar to that of obtaining an H-1B visa; however, not everything is similar.

The requirements to obtain an E-3 visa are the same as those for an H-1B visa, with one difference; they include the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher and a job offer in a field of highly specialized knowledge, and most importantly the individual must be an Australian citizen. All of the forms used for an H-1B filing, are utilized in an E-3 filing; specifically, the LCA, and Form I-129.

With an E-3 visa, the validity period may only be granted for a term of two years; whereas, with the H-1B, the validity period is for a term of three years. Additionally, there is no automatic extension of work authorization while an E-3 visa extension application is pending. Individuals in E-3 status are not covered by 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(20), which provides authorization to continue employment with the same employer while a timely filed application for extension of stay is pending. Premium processing also does not apply to E-3 visa holders. Therefore, E-3 extensions of stay should be filed a full six months ahead of expiration. If an extension of stay application is pending when an individual’s current E-3 status expires, they must be taken off payroll until the petition is approved.

Another difference between the E-3 visa and the H-1B visa is that change of employer portability upon filing is not available to E-3 visa holders, as it is for H-1B visa holders. In fact, when an individual under E-3 status seeks to change his employer, he must exit the U.S., apply for a new visa pursuant to a new E-3 petition filed by the new employer, and then reenter the U.S. pursuant to the new visa to begin working for the new employer.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is currently working with government agencies regarding all of the issues addressed above.

Posted On: October 7, 2008

John McCain and Barack Obama on IMMIGRATION

Republican Presidential candidate John McCain and Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama may not see eye-to-eye on a majority of the issues; however, on the issue of immigration, they share more similarities than differences.

Securing our borders is the first priority in both a McCain and Obama administration. Senator Obama and Senator McCain want to preserve the integrity of our borders. Both candidates believe in setting clear guidelines and objectives for securing the border through physical and virtual barriers.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform is another priority both senators intend to carry out in their administrations. They believe in fixing the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy, keeping immigrant families together, and meeting the demand for jobs with foreign workers and U.S. workers. Both candidates have considered raising the cap on the number of H-1B visas issued annually. They also plan to crack down on employers that abuse the immigration system, specifically; McCain stated that he would aggressively prosecute employers that continue to hire illegal immigrants. Both candidates emphasized the use of the E-Verify system which is already in use by the Bush administration, but not a mandatory tool at this time. They also plan to clear out the backlog of individuals that have been waiting legally outside the country for years for their green card number to become available.

As a third priority, both candidates plan to address the millions of undocumented workers in the United States. Senator Obama and Senator McCain have envisioned a path to citizenship for these illegal workers. The plan will allow undocumented immigrants in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens. In a McCain administration, there will be measures in place to ensure that all undocumented workers either leave the United States or follow the path to legal residence. McCain believes that America cannot permit a permanent category of individuals that do not have recognized status – a permanent second class.

Another priority for the Obama administration is to effectively work with Mexico. Senator Obama plans to promote economic development in Mexico by modifying trade agreements, and creating other agreements to ultimately decrease illegal immigration to the United States, along with other measures.

One thing is for sure, Senator Obama and Senator McCain believe that change is needed in our current immigration system.

Read Senator John McCain's plan
Read Senator Barak Obama's plan

Posted On: October 6, 2008

BALCA upholds denial of LC for failure to obtain Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently upheld the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “Maid.”

In the aforementioned case, the employer, a private household filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker. The employer mailed the Application for Permanent Employment Certification to the Chicago Processing Center. The CO accepted the application for processing on October 24, 2006, and then re-keyed the application into the Department of Labor’s ETA electronic system. Weeks later the CO wrote a letter to the employer that denied the employer access to submit a Form 9089 electronically until the employer submitted proof of a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), proof of a business entity, and proof of a physical location. Subsequently, the CO issued a letter denying certification. The reason for denial was that the employer could not be verified as a bonafide entity. In requesting reconsideration, the Employer asserted that the denial was vague, pointed out that it was a private household and not a company, but ultimately failed to identify how it was verified as a bonafide entity. The employer submitted a passport and her most recent tax return and further argued that neither her nor her legal counsel were ever contacted regarding verification of the employer’s existence. After reviewing the request, the CO denied reconsideration. The CO stated that providing a Social Security number was not a valid substitute for a FEIN. The matter was referred to BALCA for review. In the employer’s brief, she based her argument on a denial of due process.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that the regulations require the submission of a FEIN on ETA Form 9089 because the FEIN is used to verify whether an employer is a bona fide entity. The PERM regulations at 20 C.F.R. § 656.3 require that an employer possess a valid Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) whether they are a private household or a legitimate company. Case law further provides that the use of a social security number as a substitute for a FEIN is prohibited because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) clearly requires employers to possess a FEIN in order to file tax forms for domestic household employees.

The employer asserted that she was denied due process; however, under the PERM regulations, an employer is given an opportunity to file for reconsideration. In issuing a denial to an employer, the CO shall identify the section or subsection allegedly violated, and the nature of the violation. In this case, the CO’s original denial letter was deficient because it failed to state that the employer needed to provide a FEIN to be verified as a bonafide entity. The CO’s letter had the potential to deny the Employer’s due process rights. However, the CO’s failure to describe the nature of the violation did not prevent the employer from obtaining a labor certification that should have been granted. The only evidence that the employer could have provided for the case to swing in its favor was evidence that the employer had a FEIN at the time she applied for labor certification.

From the record, it was clear that the employer did not possess a FEIN as she used her social security number as a substitute. As stated above, a FEIN is required even for domestic households. In this case, the employer’s failure to obtain a FEIN prior to filing for labor certification rendered her application deficient as a matter of law. Accordingly, although the CO’s original determination letter was deficient, the employer could not be deprived of something to which she was never entitled. The Board recommended that the employer obtain a FEIN and file a new application.

Posted On: October 2, 2008

APPLY TODAY for the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery – ONLY ONLINE ENTRIES ACCEPTED

Annually, the United States government issues a maximum of 55,000 green cards through a computer-generated random lottery drawing. Applications for the DV 2010 random lottery will be accepted October 2, 2008 through December 1, 2008. Paper entries will not be accepted, eligible participants may access the electronic Diversity Visa entry form (E-DV) to apply during this period.

These green cards are only available to those eligible participants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. For DV-2010, persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Taiwan, Russia and Kosovo are eligible. No countries have been removed from the list of eligible countries for DV- 2010.

Natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because the countries sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years: Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Peru, Poland, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

To enter the DV lottery , you must be a native of one of the eligible countries. In most cases this means the country in which you were born. However, there are two other ways you may be able to qualify. First, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible but your spouse was born in a country whose natives are eligible, you can claim your spouse's country of birth provided both you and your spouse are on the selected entry, are issued visas and enter the U.S. simultaneously. Second, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but neither of your parents was born there or resided there at the time of your birth, you may claim nativity in one of your parents' country of birth if it is a country whose natives qualify for the DV-2010 program.

You must also meet either the education or work experience requirement of the DV program. You must have either a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR, two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform. The U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net OnLine database will be used to determine qualifying work experience.

If you cannot meet either of these requirements, you should NOT submit an entry to the DV program.

Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Instructions

Posted On: October 1, 2008

Update on Pending FBI Name Checks and Projected Naturalization Processing Times

The United States Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ombudsman issued a press release informing the public about the status of FBI name checks and the projected processing times for applicants filing for Naturalization . The Ombudsman is an independent office of DHS which reports directly to the DHS Deputy Secretary. The Ombudsman is responsible for assisting individuals and employers in resolving problems with the USCIS and identifying areas in which individuals and employers have problems in dealing with the USCIS.

FBI name checks are just one of several security screening tools used by the USCIS for individuals seeking immigration benefits in the U.S. The USCIS Ombudsman had identified FBI name check delays at one of the major hurdles to improved customer service at USCIS in his 2008 and 2007 Annual Reports to Congress. Fortunately, Congress responded and provided the necessary funding for USCIS and the FBI to complete a larger percentage of FBI name checks in a timely manner. USCIS met its April 2, 2008 goal by processing all name checks pending more than two years by July 2008. As of August 12, 2008, there were 95,449 FBI name checks pending, compared to 269,943 name checks pending as of May 6, 2008. Additionally, there were 61,817 name checks pending more than six months, compared to 185,162 pending for more than six months as of May 6, 2008. Although there is a sufficient backlog still to be processed, the USCIS is significantly making progress in an effort to improve service for those seeking U.S. immigration benefits.

According to the USCIS, naturalization application processing will take an average of 10-12 months nationally by the end of this month. Previously, USCIS estimated processing times of 16-18 months, then 14-16, then later to 13-15 months. The delay in processing is due to the enormous amount of applications that were submitted during the summer of 2007. Three million naturalization applicants were submitted to the USCIS compared to the 1.8 million submitted the previous year. Overall, the USCIS seems to be making considerable progress compared to past years.