BALCA Interprets Drafting of Alternative Requirements on the ETA 9089

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently overturned the decision of a Certifying Officer (CO) to deny labor certification for the position of “MR Clinical Development Leader.”

The CO denied the labor certification without audit stating the alternative requirements for the position were not substantially equivalent to the primary job requirements on the ETA Form 9089. On the form, the Employer mentions as an alternative requirement for this position “any suitable combination of education, training and experience as an MR clinical development leader, MR Applications Production Manager, Clinical Scientist, Radiographer or as a MR Specialist.” However, the Employer lists “Bachelor’s degree in Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry or Medical Technology and 60 months of progressively responsible post-bachelor’s experience and some experience with MR equipment, product and/or application development.” The CO believed the “any suitable combination” wording did not specify the minimum acceptable requirement, so he denied the application in violation of PERM Regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(h)(4)(i).

The Employer requested reconsideration of the denial stating the CO misread their answers to the questions on the form. They argued the minimum requirements are substantially the same as the primary requirements listed on the ETA Form. The Employer mentioned PERM regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.3, “if the employer is willing to accept work experience in lieu of a baccalaureate or higher degree, such work experience…must be stated on the application form.”

The CO forwarded the case to BALCA for review. Upon review, BALCA reversed the denial because the CO improperly “treated the Employer’s alternative minimum education requirements as satisfying Employer’s alternative requirements for employment, ignoring Employer’s stated experience requirements.” BALCA believed the Employer plainly listed on the ETA Form 9089 that all applicants needed a minimum of 60 months of progressively responsible post-bachelor’s experience, regardless of whether they possessed the required bachelor’s degree or not.