BALCA upholds denial of Labor Certification, No valid FEIN

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 Restaurant Cook.

The employer filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in August of 2005. In November of 2005, the CO issued an Audit Notification because he was unable to verify the Employer as a bona fide business entity. The CO requested proof of the employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), among other documents. In response, counsel for the Employer submitted the FEIN of a different entity. Counsel stated that the reason the number has changed is because a new owner has taken over and is willing to continue sponsoring the Alien. Thereafter, the CO issued a letter denying certification on one ground, the FEIN supplied was not valid. The CO determined that the Employer did not have a valid FEIN at the time of filing, and that a new owner must file its own application. Subsequently, counsel for the Employer requested reconsideration addressing the same argument as he did previously. In May of 2008, the CO denied reconsideration by stating that the original sponsoring Employer no longer existed based on the Employer’s own statement, and on information the CO received from the California Secretary of State. The CO then forwarded the case to BALCA. The Employer did not submit an appellate brief, but the CO did file a letter brief arguing its reasons behind the denial for reconsideration.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that the requirement in ETA Form 9089 requiring submission of a FEIN was fully supported by the regulations and by policy of using the FEIN as a means of verifying whether an employer is a bona fide business entity. BALCA reviewed case law surrounding the FEIN issue and found the following: (1) substitution of a Social Security Number (SSN) was not a substitute for a FEIN for a private household; and (2) obtaining a valid FEIN after being notified of the deficiency is not harmless error, it is failure to comply with the substantive requirement of possessing a valid FEIN prior to filing, hence a violation of the regulations. BALCA determined that where an application is deficient when filed because the sponsoring employer does not have a valid FEIN, the CO is not required to permit the application to be perfected based on a change in ownership. Accordingly, the CO properly denied certification.