Posted On: August 31, 2009

BALCA upholds denial of Labor Certification – Employer Submitted Labor less than 30 days after end of SWA job order

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “Office Clerk, General."

The employer filed a LC which was accepted for processing on October 16, 2006. Form ETA 9089 provided that the State Workforce Agency (SWA) job order had been placed from September 5, 2006 until October 6, 2006. On August 10, 2007, the CO denied labor certification because the application was filed less than 30 days after the end of the job order. The Employer then submitted a request for review, requesting that its previous SWA job order, commencing on August 22, 2006, be used instead of the job order placed on September 5, 2006. Accordingly, in October of 2008, the CO thereafter denied reconsideration on the ground that the employer’s evidence did not support a changing of the SWA job orders.

The CO then forwarded the case to BALCA. The Employer filed a Statement of Intent to Proceed with the appeal, but did not file an appellate brief. The CO filed a brief arguing that its decision should be affirmed by the Board.

Continue reading " BALCA upholds denial of Labor Certification – Employer Submitted Labor less than 30 days after end of SWA job order " »

Posted On: August 25, 2009

BALCA upholds denial of Labor Certification – Notice of Filing failed to provide “Rate of Pay”

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “Computer Software Engineer, Applications."

The employer filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker and in June of 2007, thereafter the CO issued an Audit Notification letter requesting among other documents, its Notice of Filing. The Employer complied with the request; however the Notice of Filing failed to provide the rate of pay for the proffered position. In March of 2008, the CO issued a letter denying certification. In April of 2008, the Employer submitted an appeal to the Board, but failed to provide any argument as to the failure to provide the rate of pay. The CO issued a letter of reconsideration affirming the denial and provided that the grounds for denial were valid because of a violation of 20 C.F.R. § 656.10(d)(4), which requires that the Notice of Filing provide a rate of pay.

The CO then forwarded the case to BALCA. The Employer filed a Statement of Intent to Proceed, but did not file an appellate brief. The CO filed a letter brief arguing that its decision should be affirmed by the Board.

Upon BALCA review, regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.10(d)(4) controls and provides that the Notice of Filing “must state the rate of pay (which much equal or exceed the prevailing wage entered by the SWA on the prevailing wage request form).” The purpose of the Notice of Filing is to implement the statutory requirement provided by Section 122(b) of the Immigration Act of 1990, which provides that “any person may submit documentary evidence bearing on the application for certification (such as information on available workers, information on wages and working conditions, and information on the employer’s failure to meet the terms and conditions with respect to the employment of alien workers and co-workers).” Here, the Employer’s Notice of Filing failed to provide the rate of pay and the Employer failed to provide any explanation as to its omission. The Board further provided that a failure to list the rate of pay wage in the Notice of Filing constitutes grounds for denial of certification.

Accordingly, the Board affirmed the decision of the CO in denying labor certification.

Posted On: August 24, 2009

FYI - Tips for I-131 Re-entry Permits

According to a recent AILA Liaison Committee meeting, I-485, Adjustment of Status applicants who intend to file for their second or subsequent I-131 reentry permit should file with 30 days or less remaining on the previous valid I-131 document…otherwise an RFE will most likely be issued asking for the valid travel document before a new I-131 is issued to the applicant...

For more information, do not hesitate to contact our office at (240) 390-0600

Posted On: August 19, 2009

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Posted On: August 19, 2009

LATEST UPDATE - FY 2010 H-1B Cap Count

On August 19, 2009, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) updated the count of H-1B petitions received and counted towards the 65,000 cap.

As of August 14, 2009, 45,000 H-1B cap subject nonimmigrant visa petitions have been accepted by USCIS. USCIS has advised that they will continue to accept petitions until the cap is reached. Additionally, USCIS reported that they received 20,000 advanced degree H-1B petitions. Although the limit on advanced degree petitions is 20,000, past experience has tended to show that not all petitions received are approvable.

Accordingly, qualifying applicants are still able to petition for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa either under the general cap, or as an applicant with an advanced degree. (i.e., U.S. Master’s degree)

If you have any questions surrounding the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program, please contact our office.

Posted On: August 17, 2009

Updated Service Centers Processing Times

Processing Time reports for all of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Centers were released on August 14, 2009 with processing dates as of June 30, 2009.

If you filed a petition with one of the Service Centers, please review the links below to determine the applicable processing time associated with your particular case.

California Service Center
National Benefits Center
Nebraska Service Center
Texas Service Center
Vermont Service Center

If your petition is out-side of the normal range listed, contact USCIS. (1-800-375-5283)
If you would like our assistance, feel free to contact our office.

Posted On: August 12, 2009

BALCA upholds denial of Labor Certification – PERM: Recruitment not conducted in accordance with Regulations

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “Dietitian and Nutritionist."

The employer filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in December of 2006, where the Employer indicated that it had based its recruitment on the requirements for a non-professional position. In August of 2007, the CO denied certification because the Employer improperly relied upon the non-professional position requirements for recruitment, when the professional position recruitment requirements should have been conducted. The CO explained that the particular position was listed in Appendix A of the Preamble to 20 C.F.R. Part 656 as a Professional occupation, and recruitment should have been conducted accordingly. The Employer then filed a Motion to Reconsider arguing that a bachelor’s degree was not required. The CO stated that when a position is listed on Appendix A, the Employer must conduct the recruitment required for professional occupations, the mere listing as a non-professional position, and not requiring a bachelor’s degree were irrelevant to the discussion. Since the additional recruitment steps were not taken, the CO had the authority to deny certification.

The CO then forwarded the case to BALCA. The Employer informed BALCA of its intent to proceed with an appeal, but did not file an appellate brief. The CO filed a brief arguing that its decision should be affirmed by the Board because the occupation was listed on Appendix A, and therefore recruitment in a manner prescribed for a professional position was required pursuant to the regulations.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that professional recruitment requires a few additional steps not required for nonprofessional positions. Appendix A of the Preamble to 20 C.F.R. Part 656 provides an extensive list of professional occupations, which are defined as “occupations for which the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree is a usual educational requirement, however, the educational degree is not determinative of whether an Appendix A occupation is considered a professional position. Thus, if an occupation is found on Appendix A, the employer must recruit the position under the criteria for professional occupations, even if the employer does not consider the position to be a professional one and does not require the attainment of a bachelor’s degree. Here, the Employer did not require a bachelor’s degree, but the position was listed in Appendix A, and the Employer was required to conduct the additional steps required for professional recruitment. In the present case, the Employer failed to conduct those additional steps and denial by the CO was proper.

Accordingly, the Board affirmed the decision of the CO in denying labor certification.

Posted On: August 11, 2009

September 2009 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State has released its latest Visa Bulletin. The September 2009 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 September 2009 Visa Bulletin.

Posted On: August 10, 2009

LATEST UPDATE - FY 2010 H-1B Cap Count

On July 31, 2009, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) updated the count of H-1B petitions received and counted towards the 65,000 cap.

As of July 24th, 2009, 44,900 H-1B cap subject nonimmigrant visa petitions have been filed. USCIS has advised that they will continue to accept petitions until the cap is reached. Additionally, USCIS reported that they received 20,000 advanced degree H-1B petitions. Although the limit on advanced degree petitions is 20,000, past experience has tended to show that not all petitions received are approvable.

Accordingly, qualifying applicants are still able to petition for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa either under the general cap, or as an applicant with an advanced degree. (i.e., U.S. Master’s degree)

If you have any questions surrounding the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program, please contact our office.

Posted On: August 6, 2009

BALCA upholds denial of Labor Certification – PERM: Failure to Prove Business Necessity

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

The employer filed a LC requiring seven years of experience in the job offered, and the case was later selected for audit. The Audit letter requested that the Employer provide proof of business necessity for the excessive experience requirement, and submission of its recruitment report, among other documents. After the Employer submitted its response, the CO denied certification based on failure to prove business necessity.

The CO then forwarded the case to BALCA. The Employer filed an Appeal by letter which included an argument from the Employer’s President explaining why the Employer needed the Alien’s skills in speaking English, French and Spanish, but did not address why the experience requirement was so long. The CO filed a letter brief arguing that its decision should be affirmed by the Board.

Upon BALCA review, regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(h)(1) controls and provides that “The job opportunity's requirements, unless adequately documented as arising from business necessity, must be those normally required for the occupation and must not exceed the Specific Vocational Preparation level assigned to the occupation as shown in the O*NET Job Zones. To establish a business necessity, an employer must demonstrate that the job duties and requirements bear a reasonable relationship to the occupation in the context of the employer's business and are essential to perform the job in a reasonable manner.” In the present case, the Employer’s requirement of seven years experience exceeded the O*Net Job Zone SVP for the position. The Board agreed with the CO that the Employer failed to provide an explanation as to why the requirement was excessive.

Accordingly, the Board affirmed the decision of the CO in denying labor certification.

Posted On: August 5, 2009

BALCA upholds denial of Labor Certification – PERM: Professional and nonprofessional position recruitment

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

The employer filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in August of 2006, where the Employer indicated that it had based its recruitment on the requirements for a non-professional position. In November of 2008, the CO denied certification because the Employer improperly relied upon the non-professional position requirements for recruitment, when the professional position recruitment requirements should have been conducted. The CO explained that the particular position was listed in Appendix A of the Preamble to 20 C.F.R. Part 656 as a Professional occupation, and recruitment should have been conducted accordingly. The Employer then filed a Motion to Reconsider arguing that the CO’s allegation was made in error, that he did not file for a professional position, and that a bachelor’s degree was not required. The CO stated that when a position is listed on Appendix A, the Employer must conduct the recruitment required for professional occupations, the mere listing as a non-professional position, and not requiring a bachelor’s degree were irrelevant to the discussion. Since the additional recruitment steps were not taken, the CO had the authority to deny certification.

The CO then forwarded the case to BALCA. The Employer filed a Statement of Intent to Proceed with the appeal, and filed a brief arguing the same positions as listed above. The CO filed a letter brief arguing that its decision should be affirmed by the Board because the occupation was listed on Appendix A, and therefore recruitment in a manner prescribed for a professional position was required pursuant to the regulations.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that professional recruitment requires a few additional steps not required for nonprofessional positions. Appendix A of the Preamble to 20 C.F.R. Part 656 provides an extensive list of professional occupations, which are defined as “occupations for which the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree is a usual educational requirement, however, the educational degree is not determinative of whether an Appendix A occupation is considered a professional position. Thus, if an occupation is found on Appendix A, the employer must recruit the position under the criteria for professional occupations, even if the
employer does not consider the position to be a professional one and does not require the attainment of a bachelor’s degree. Here, the Employer did not require a bachelor’s degree, but the position was listed in Appendix A, and the Employer was required to conduct the additional steps required for professional recruitment. In the present case, the Employer failed to conduct those additional steps and denial by the CO was proper.

Accordingly, the Board affirmed the decision of the CO in denying labor certification.

Posted On: August 4, 2009

BALCA upholds denial of Labor Certification – PERM: Failure to follow Recruitment time restrictions for filing

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the final determination
of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “Accounting/Bookkeeping Assistant."

On March 2, 2007, the employer filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker, indicating that the position was a professional occupation. In August of 2007, the CO denied certification for many reasons, mainly that the application was incomplete. By September, the Employer had resubmitted the labor application correcting most of the deficiencies, and submitted evidence of recruitment. In November of 2008, the CO issued a letter of reconsideration providing that one of the reasons for denial was that the job order was not conducted within the time frame required by the regulations. Additionally, one of the three additional recruitment steps was conducted outside of the time frame.

The CO then forwarded the case to BALCA. The Employer filed a Statement of Intent to Proceed with the appeal, and did not file a brief. The CO filed a letter brief arguing that its decision should be affirmed by the Board because the Job Order was not completed at least 30 days prior to filing the application, and the fact that one of the three additional recruitment steps was conducted 5 months after filing, clearly in violation of the regulations.

Upon BALCA review, regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(e) controls and provides that “an employer must have attest to having conducted the following recruitment prior to filing the application: (1) …the employer must conduct recruitment steps within six (6) months of filing the application…,(2) a job order must be placed with the State Workforce Agency (SWA) serving the area of intended employment for a period of 30 days, the state and end dates of the job order entered on the application shall serve as documentation of this step… Here, the Employer placed the job order six (6) months after filing the application, which is a clear violation, because the job order must be filed at least thirty (30) days prior to filing the application. Additionally, the third additional recruiting step was not completed until five (5) months after filing, when it should have been completed within 30 days prior to filing.

Accordingly, the Board affirmed the decision of the CO in denying labor certification.

Posted On: August 3, 2009

BALCA upholds denial of Labor Certification – PERM: Failure to follow Newspaper Advertisement Regulations

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the final determination
of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “Food Preparation Worker."

The employer filed a LC and had checked the box on Form 9089 indicating that there was a Sunday edition of a newspaper available in the area of intended employment. The Employer’s report of its newspaper advertisements showed that the first ad was placed on Tuesday, August 22, 2006, and a second advertisement was placed on Saturday-Sunday, October 21-22, 2006, in a different newspaper. In January of 2007, the CO denied labor certification for failure to comply with the Sunday newspaper advertisement regulations. The Employer then submitted a letter indicating that it had re-advertised for the position on Sunday, January 28, 2007. Accordingly, the CO thereafter denied reconsideration on the ground that the 2007 newspaper advertisement was not “in the record” at the time the application was denied.

The CO then forwarded the case to BALCA. The Employer filed a Statement of Intent to Proceed with the appeal, and did not file a brief. The CO filed a letter brief arguing that its decision should be affirmed by the Board.

Upon BALCA review, regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(e) controls, providing that the Employer must have attested to having placed two print advertisements on two different Sundays in the newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment most appropriate to the occupation and the workers likely to apply for the job opportunity. Here, the denial was based upon the Employer’s failure to run the second advertisement in a Sunday edition newspaper of general circulation. The Employer did not argue that it had or had not complied with the regulations, but argued that it re-advertised the position correctly after the denial, and that certification should be granted based upon that act. The Board stated that the CO is not required to permit an employer to cure a deficiency by filing a motion for reconsideration supported by a new recruitment conducted after the CO denied the application. The Employer’s remedy in this case is to file a new labor certification.

Accordingly, the Board affirmed the decision of the CO in denying labor certification.