Posted On: November 21, 2008

BALCA upholds denial of Labor application – minimalist approach to 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 heavy equipment operator. This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

The employer, a residential home construction company filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in April of 2001. In January 2006, the CO issued a Notice of Findings (NOF) proposing to deny certification on the ground that two U.S. applicants were unlawfully rejected in direct violation of the regulations. In the submitted recruitment report there were several findings at issue. First, the employer left a phone message for one applicant that was never returned, and an email was sent to a second applicant, and thus returned because it was inoperable. The employer did not follow up with alternative attempts, such as written correspondence. In summary, the CO stated that an employer who does no more than place unanswered telephone calls without making additional attempts has failed to make a minimally acceptable effort. In response, the employer stated that if an applicant does not return a telephone call for a high paying position, then it can be reasonably inferred the applicant is no longer interested in the position. Additionally, the employer contended that he is not required by the regulations to send certified mail notices or other written communication to an applicant that it has tried in good faith to contact for an interview. Thereafter, the CO issued its final determination denying certification for the same grounds contained in the NOF. Subsequently, the Employer requested BALCA review.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that an employer must show that U.S. applicants were rejected solely for lawful job related reasons. An employer must take steps to ensure that it has obtained lawful job-related reasons for rejecting U.S. applicants, and not stop short of fully investigating an applicant’s qualifications. According to the Board’s case law, an employer who does no more than make unanswered phone calls or leaves messages on answering machines has not made a reasonable effort to contact the U.S. worker, where the addresses were available for applicants; in such a case the employer should follow up with a latter – which may be certified mail, return receipt requested. The Board further pointed out that what may be considered adequate recruitment by an employer for hiring is not necessarily adequate to establish good faith efforts to recruit U.S. workers for the purposes of supporting a labor certification application.

Accordingly, the employer took a minimalist approach to recruitment. In doing so, it failed to document that it made good faith efforts to recruit all of the U.S. applicants. Thus, the CO properly denied certification.

Posted On: November 18, 2008

Highlights of Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 PERM Certifications

Over 90,039 Labor certification applications were received between October 01, 2007 and September 01, 2008. Of those, 49,205 have been certified. Many are either still in the review process, undergoing an audit, on appeal, or have been denied.

The top 5 states of intended employment for these permanent labor certifications were California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Florida.

Alien beneficiaries representing 179 different countries were certified for permanent employment in the U.S. These alien beneficiaries were from India, Mexico, China, South Korea, Philippines, Canada, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Ecuador.

The top job titles for those certified included Computer Software Engineers, Computer System Analysts, Computer and Information System Managers, Restaurant Cooks, Electronics Engineers, Market Research Analyst, Computer Programmers, Financial Analysts, Mechanical Engineers, Chefs and Head Cooks, and Electrical Engineers.

Although a new PERM Form 9089 has been created, implementation of the new form is delayed until Spring 2009. Until then, the existing Form 9089 will be accepted for Labor Certification.

Posted On: November 17, 2008

BALCA upholds denial of Landscaper Application - seasonal employment

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 “Landscaper”. This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

The employer filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in December 2001. In November 2006, the CO issued a Notice of Findings (NOF) proposing to deny certification. The regulations at 20 C.F.R. § 656.3 define employment as permanent, full-time work by an employee for an employer other than oneself. Generally, the work of a landscaper is only performed during certain seasons of the year. The CO needed more information to determine whether the position required full-time, year round work. The CO asked the employer to provide payroll records for December to Mach for the last three years to establish that the position of landscaper was performed on a year-round basis. The Employer submitted its weekly payroll records for the Alien and two other employees. The Employer’s attorney argued that the employees perform their jobs year-round on a continuous basis working in the months of December, January, February, and March. The CO issued its Final Determination denying certification in June 2007. Simply stated, the CO found that the employer failed to provide evidence to establish that the position was performed on a year-round basis. The Employer’s payroll records for the last three years showed that the Alien and the other two employees regularly worked less than 35 hours in a given week during the winter months. The Employer stated that the future position will perform 40 hours per week during the winter months. Accordingly, the evidence submitted was not sufficient to establish that the position constituted permanent, full-time, year-round employment as defined by the regulations. Subsequently, the Employer requested BALCA review.

Upon BALCA review, the Board relied upon case law and held that a landscaper position for which duties can only be performed during several months per year cannot be considered permanent employment for the purposes of labor certification. The Board considered this arrangement seasonal employment. The Board found that the employees averaged between 23 and 26 hours a week from December through February in the 03’/04’ season, 04’/05’ season and 05’/06’ season. Although the Employer argued that the offer for future employment will be 40 hours each week year-round, the evidence submitted did not support such a finding. The Employer did not provide any additional documentation to establish that the position was permanent and full-time. Accordingly, the Board agreed with the CO that the position was for seasonal employment and as a result, the labor certification was properly denied.

Posted On: November 14, 2008

BALCA upholds denial of Landscaper application – not permanent, full-time employment

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 “landscaper”. This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

The employer filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in April of 2002. In March 2007, the CO issued a Notice of Findings (NOF) proposing to deny certification. The regulations at 20 C.F.R. § 656.3 define employment as permanent, full-time work by an employee for an employer other than oneself. Generally, the work of a landscaper is only performed during certain seasons of the year. The CO needed more information to determine whether the position required full-time, year round work. The CO asked the employer to provide payroll records for December to Mach for the last three years to establish that the position of landscaper was performed on a year-round basis. The Employer submitted its Quarterly Federal Tax Returns for 2005 and 2006 as evidence of permanent, full-time employment. The CO issued its Final Determination denying certification in August 2007. Simply stated, the CO found that the employer failed to provide evidence to establish that the position was performed on a year-round basis. The Employer’s Quarterly Tax Returns did not show the number of hours each individual worked each week. Subsequently, the Employer requested BALCA review.

Upon BALCA review, the Board relied upon case law and held that a landscape gardener position for which duties can only be performed during several months per year cannot be considered permanent employment for the purposes of labor certification. The Board considered this arrangement seasonal employment. Therefore, the employer has the burden to prove that the position is permanent and full-time. The employer failed to produce evidence that would show that the position was in fact permanent, full-time employment. The Employer’s failure to submit the documentation reasonably requested by the CO warranted a denial of labor certification. The Board held that while the employer’s quarterly reports established that the business is open year-round; they did not establish that the position was for permanent, full-time year-round employment. Accordingly, the employer failed to meet its burden and as a result, the labor certification was properly denied.

Posted On: November 12, 2008

December 2008 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State has released its latest Visa Bulletin. The December 2008 visa bulletin still shows employment based third preference (EB-3) visas as oversubscribed while the employment based second preference (EB-2) is current for all areas of chargeability except for China and India. Click here to view the December 2008 Visa Bulletin

Posted On: November 11, 2008

Naturalization Process for the Military

Under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), service members and certain veterans of the United States armed forces may apply for expedited citizenship . Qualifying military service is generally in one of the following branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and certain components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. Several of the requirements are provided below:

- A member of the U.S. armed forces must have good moral character; knowledge of
the English language; knowledge of U.S. government and history; and attachment to
the U.S. by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.
- Qualified members are exempt from the naturalization requirements of residency
and physical presence in the U.S.
- A member who obtains U.S. citizenship, separates from the military under “other
than honorable conditions” before completing five years of honorable service may
have his/her citizenship revoked.
- A qualified member may be naturalized overseas, including eligible spouses of
members of the U.S. armed forces.

Discharged members of the U.S. armed forces may also qualify for naturalization. The requirements consist of serving honorably for at least one year, obtaining lawful permanent resident status, and having filed an application while still in the service or within six months of separation.

In 2002, President Bush signed the “Expedited Naturalization Executive Order” which called for the expedited naturalization of aliens and non-citizens serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces during the War on Terrorism. A qualifying member under this order may immediately file for citizenship. The requirement of at least one year of honorable duty does not apply under the executive order. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has naturalized 42,981 members of the U.S. armed forces since the beginning of the War on Terrorism.

For more information on how to apply and the fingerprint requirements, please review the USCIS Fact Sheet.

Posted On: November 10, 2008

The Role of the Attorney in the PERM Process After the Fragomen Settlement

Since the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a press release in June 2008 announcing it was auditing all of the PERM labor certification applications filed by the Fragomen law firm there has been much confusion for attorneys in regards to the PERM process. While there are still a number of areas left questionable, below are some Do’s and Don’ts based on the DOL’s pleadings.

• Do be prepared for DOL to audit how the employer received and reviewed the resumes if there is any hint this is an issue in the recruitment process.

• Do assist your clients without fear of DOL wrath when they have questions about whether an applicant is unqualified.

• Given DOL’s position on pre-screening resumes for the employer, it may well be a “best practice” for the attorney not to pre-screen.

• Be wary about the activities of paralegals at the worksite of an employer, acting as an agent of the attorney.

• Do continue to impose on the employer the overall requirement of good faith recruitment and evaluation of applicants.

It is important to note that the DOL confirmed in writing that the employer is not legally required to hire anyone recruited through labor certification recruitment. In other words, the labor certification is a test of the labor market and not a hiring program.

Posted On: November 7, 2008

BALCA remands LC for supervised recruitment due to failure of Employer to recruit in good faith

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 “Secondary Mathematics Teacher,” and remanded the case for regular processing and supervised recruitment. This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

In the aforementioned case, the employer, a state charter school filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in April of 2004. In a letter submitted with the application for LC, the Employer requested that the application be handled under the provisions for Reduction in Recruitment (RIR). In August 2007, the CO issued a Notice of Findings (NOF) proposing to deny certification. The CO concluded that the Employer did not make a bona fide, good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers for the job offered because the Employer made no attempt to contact any of the job applicants but, rather, rejected all applicants without adequately investigating their qualifications. The CO stated that the Employer could rebut its findings if (1) it submitted documentation that showed that U.S. workers were rejected for lawful, job related reasons; and (2) a recruitment report detailing the number of workers who responded to the recruitment, the manner of contact, the number of workers who were interviewed, and information regarding those interviews. Additionally, the CO noted that at the time of filing the application, the Employer was “delinquent” according to the Wisconsin Secretary of State’s public website, and that good standing was not restored until January 2005. The CO equated the delinquency to mean that the Employer had not yet legally restored his qualification to legally conduct business in the State of Wisconsin. On rebuttal, the Employer submitted documentation which established the requirement to hire teachers with valid licenses or permits. In addition, the Employer submitted an affidavit from the Director of the school further indicating that the applicants in question were not qualified for the position. The Employer also provided copies of letters and emails that were sent to the otherwise qualified U.S. workers in August 2007 to determine if they were still interested in the job opportunity. Also, the Employer submitted documentation indicating that “delinquent” status is not an assessment of the entity’s financial condition, stability, or business practice, but an indication of the entity’s status in regards to filing annual reports. In September 2007, the CO issued a Final Determination denying certification. The grounds for denial were: (1) neither applicant for the position had been contact by the Employer back when the recruitment took place in 2004; (2) the affidavit was not credible because it testified to information about which he did not have first hand knowledge; (3) the Employer’s attempt to contact the applicants three years after recruitment was not sufficient; and (4) the information from the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions was insufficient to establish that the Employer had the legal authority to transact business in the State of Wisconsin. In summary, the Employer had not address the deficiencies in the NOF, and therefore the CO denied the application for LC. Subsequently, the Employer requested BALCA review.

Upon BALCA review, the Board determined that what is missing from the record is an explanation from the CO as to why a company’s temporary delinquent status in filing annual state reports is fatal to a LC application. Therefore, the Board stated that it declined to fault the Employer for failing to rebut an unwarranted assumption raised in the NOF. Additionally, upon review it was determined that when a resume does not expressly state qualifications for all of an employer’s job requirements, but lists such a broad range of experience that there is a reasonable possibility the applicant may meet the job requirements, it is incumbent on the Employer to further investigate the U.S. applicant’s qualifications, either through an interview or by other means. As to the affidavit, the Board stated that bare assertions by an employer are not sufficient to carry the burden of demonstrating good faith recruitment.

This case was before the CO in the posture of a request for RIR processing, and when a CO normally denies an RIR, such a denial should result in the referral of the application for regular processing and supervised recruitment. Accordingly, the Board remanded the LC to the CO for regular processing and supervised recruitment.

Posted On: November 6, 2008

BALCA upholds denial of LC because Employer failed to establish position was permanent full-time employment

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 “Landscape Gardener.” This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

In the aforementioned case, the employer, a nursery filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in April of 2001. In a letter submitted with the application, the Employer requested the application be handled under the special provisions for Reduction in Recruitment (RIR) processing. In May 2006, the CO issued a Notice of Findings (NOF) proposing to deny certification. The NOF provided that the regulations at 20 C.F.R. § 656.3 define “employment” as permanent full-time work by an employee for an employer other than oneself. Additionally, the NOF stated that the work of a landscape gardener is generally performed during certain seasons or periods of the year and not others. Lastly, the NOF stated that there was insufficient information to determine whether the Alien would perform the work on a full-time basis. The NOF requested that the Employer submit payroll records for the last three years to establish that the job duties are permanent full-time employment. On rebuttal, the Employer submitted payroll records for the last three years and argued that the payroll records establish a long-term commitment because despite the winter hiatus, everyone returns for re-employment in the spring. The Employer also plead that in continuously warm climates, landscaping is considered permanent, full-time year round work. The Employer argued that they should not wait for Congress to pass new legislation on this issue, and recommended a modification of the existing case law. In September 2007, the CO issued a final determination denying certification. The CO noted that the Employer’s pay roll records for the last three years did not show any pay for the first quarter of each year for the months of January, February and March. Therefore, the Employer’s rebuttal failed to establish employment on a year-round basis. Subsequently, the Employer requested BALCA review.

Upon BALCA review, existing case law holds that a landscape gardener position for which duties can only be performed during approximately nine to ten months per year cannot be considered permanent employment for the purposes of labor certification. Rather, the employment should be considered seasonal. The fact that employees return the following year bears no relevance on the final determination, as the re-employment of the same employees does not cure the defect. As such, the position is seasonal and labor certification was properly denied.

This case was before the CO in the posture of a request for RIR processing, and when a CO normally denies an RIR, such a denial should result in the referral of the application for regular processing. However, case law holds that a remand for supervised recruitment is not mandated if the reasons for the denial cannot be cured by a supervised recruitment. Accordingly, since the Employer has not established that the application was for permanent full-time employment, remand for supervised recruitment is not warranted. The CO properly denied labor certification .

Posted On: November 5, 2008

N-400 Naturalization Application Expired October 31,2008, but Remains Valid Until Revised Version is Released

The prior edition of the N-400 Application for Naturalization expired on October 31, 2008. A new edition of the form has yet to be posted to the USCIS website. Until further notice, the USCIS has informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that applicants may continue to submit their applications on any useable edition of the form.

To clarify, applicants seeking naturalization may continue to file using Form N-400 found on the USCIS website until a new revised form is posted.

Posted On: November 3, 2008

BALCA upholds denial of LC because Employer failed to establish lawful-job related reasons for rejecting otherwise qualified U.S. workers

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 “Heavy Equipment Operator.” This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

In the aforementioned case, the employer, a contractor providing commercial site preparation services filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in April of 2001. In March 2006, the CO issued a Notice of Findings (NOF) proposing to deny certification. The CO noted that the employer did not document that its requirements for the job opportunity, represented the Employer’s actual minimum requirements for the job opportunity in violation of Section 656.21(b)(5). Additionally, the CO concluded that based on the recruitment report, the Employer had screened and rejected U.S. workers for the lack of qualifications not stated in the ETA 750A form or the advertisements. There were 10 additional qualifications not mentioned in ETA 750A or the advertisements for the position which the Employer used to reject otherwise qualified U.S. workers. The Alien had been hired without these qualifications and allowed to gain the required experience now required of U.S. applicants. The CO provided three ways in which the employer could rebut its findings: (1) submit evidence showing the alien had the qualifications at the time of hire; (2) submit evidence of business necessity; or (3) delete the requirements. The CO concluded that the Employer had not established lawful job-related reasons for rejecting the otherwise qualified U.S. workers. In response, the Employer submitted a rebuttal to the NOF. Thereafter, the CO issued a final determination in April 2007, denying certification because the Employer’s rebuttal was not sufficient to correct the deficiencies noted in the NOF. Subsequently, the Employer requested BALCA review.

Upon BALCA review, 20 C.F.R. § 656.21 (b)(5) provides: The employer shall document that its requirements for the job opportunity, as described, represent the employer’s actual minimum requirements for the job opportunity, and the employer has not hired workers with less training or experience for jobs similar to that involved in the job opportunity or that is not feasible to hire workers with less training or experience than that required by the employer’s job offer. Therefore, an employer cannot require more stringent qualifications of a U.S. worker than it requires of the alien. Thus, the employer is not allowed to treat the alien more favorably than it would a U.S. worker. An employer must establish that the alien possesses the stated minimum requirements for the position that is being offered. There is no documentation on record, which establishes that the alien had the additional qualifications required for the position. An employer’s unsupported statement that the alien meets its minimum requirements does not constitute adequate documentation that the alien meets those requirements. Since the alien’s prior experience is not documented, the record does not establish that the Alien was hired with the experience now being required of U.S. applicants. Therefore, the U.S. applicants who were rejected for their lack of an experience, which was not required of the Alien were not rejected for lawful job related reasons.

Accordingly, the Employer failed to fulfill its burden to provide evidence that the Alien had the requisite experience required for the position at the time he was hired by the Employer. The regulation at 20 C.F.R. § 656.21 (b)(5) provides that when an alien does not meet the employer’s stated job requirements, certification is properly denied.