BALCA Reverses CO’s denial of Labor Certification – Compliance with Requirements for Employee Referral Program

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

The employer filed a LC and ETA Form 9089 indicated that one of its recruitment steps was to advertise with its employee referral program from July 26, 2006 to September 30, 2006. The CO issued an Audit Notification letter on December 14, 2006 indicating that the reason prompting the audit was a foreign language requirement. The Employer responded to the Audit Notification with a package of materials. Thereafter the CO issue a denial letter on the sole ground that the Employer had failed to provide documentation of its use of an employee referral program consistent with the regulations. The employer requested reconsideration arguing that the audit notification had not been directed at the employee referral system and that a document explaining the company’s employee referral program was inadvertently omitted from the Recruitment materials. Although the document had been omitted, the employer further argued that it was not an omission in recruitment, which had been completed and reported on a timely basis. The document explaining the program and its incentives was included in the Employer’s Motion for Reconsideration. The CO issued a letter of reconsideration indicating that the Employer had failed to provide evidence of an Employee Referral Program that provided dated copies of the employer notice or memorandum advertising the program; specifically, documenting the incentives that would be offered to the employees.

PERM Regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.17 (e)(1)(ii)(G) controls and it provides that when an employer files an application for permanent alien labor certification under the basic process for a professional position, the regulations require it to have conducted certain recruitment steps prior to the filing and be prepared to document those steps. One type of recruitment that may be used to support an application is use of an employee referral program with incentives. The way an employer can document this type of recruitment is “by providing dated copies of the employer notices or memoranda advertising the program and specifying the incentives offered”. In the instant case, the Employer’s attorney admitted that it inadvertently omitted the documentation describing the Employer’s employee referral system. However, it is simply not clear whether the CO was affirming the earlier denial based on the Employer’s incomplete audit response, or on the basis that the documentation provided by the Employer with its motion for reconsideration was inadequate under the regulations. Upon review of the entire record, BALCA stated that the Employer was in compliance with the requirements for an employee referral program and met all of the required steps in the PERM process.

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

Matter of Clearstream Banking S.A.