BALCA affirms PERM filing date and vacates CO’s denial of the application

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the PERM filing date and vacated the Certifying Officer’s (CO) denial of the application.

The employer, an independent school district filed a pre-PERM ETA form 750A application for permanent alien labor certification on October 24, 2004 for the position of Middle School Teacher. The work location was East Houston Intermediate School and the job description involved the language “teach middle school students…” Subsequently, on January 11, 2006, the employer filed a ETA form 9089 under PERM for the same Alien for the position of Elementary School Teacher. The work location for this application was Hilliard Elementary School, and the job description involved the language “teach elementary school students…” On the ETA form 9089, the employer indicated that it was seeking to utilize the filing date from the pre-PERM application, the date of October 24, 2004. Thereafter, the employer received a letter from the Dallas Backlog Elimination Center (BEC) in reference to the pre-PERM application. The BEC gave the employer several options to pursue. The employer responded by withdrawing 20 pre-PERM application, one of which was the present application, because applications had also been filed under PERM and were pending. In January, the following year, the employer received a letter granting certification on the PERM application. The date of acceptance was that of the newly filed PERM application, January 11, 2006. The employer requested that the CO reconsider the earlier pre-PERM application filing date. A request for additional information was issued to the employer, and the employer promptly replied. The CO subsequently denied the motion because the job descriptions, job titles, and job locations in the ETA form 750A and form 9089 were not identical. Regulations require that job descriptions be identical in order for the employer to retain the filing date from an earlier pending pre-PERM application. The CO forwarded the matter to BALCA for review.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that the CO’s letter denying reconsideration stating that the application had been denied was clearly in error, and that there had been no intent to de-certify the application, leaving the remaining issue of whether the CO correctly determined the filing date for the PERM application.

The regulation at 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(d) clearly supports the CO’s decision not to retain the pre-PERM filing date. The regulation provides that employers who have filed applications prior to March 28, 2005, may…re-file such applications…without loss of the original filing date by: (i) submitting an application for an identical job opportunity…, (ii) withdrawing the original application…, and (iii) re-filing within 210 days of withdrawal of original application. To be clear, the regulations state that a job opportunity shall be considered identical if the employer, alien, job title, job location, job requirements and job description are the same as those stated in the original application. In this case, the employer had a different job title, job location and job description for each application that was submitted on behalf of the alien worker. Since the employer did not address the fact that the job location had changed in the motion for reconsideration, BALCA determined that for that reason alone, the CO was correct in finding that the applications were not identical. Although the job titles and descriptions may have been similar, they were not identical; the regulations require them to be identical in order to grant the request of the employer.

Accordingly, BALCA affirmed the determination of the CO that the filing date shall be the date that the PERM application was accepted for processing, January 11, 2006.