BALCA upholds denial of LC for failure to obtain Federal Employer Identification Number (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 “Maid.”

In the aforementioned case, the employer, a private household filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker. The employer mailed the Application for Permanent Employment Certification to the Chicago Processing Center. The CO accepted the application for processing on October 24, 2006, and then re-keyed the application into the Department of Labor’s ETA electronic system. Weeks later the CO wrote a letter to the employer that denied the employer access to submit a Form 9089 electronically until the employer submitted proof of a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), proof of a business entity, and proof of a physical location. Subsequently, the CO issued a letter denying certification. The reason for denial was that the employer could not be verified as a bonafide entity. In requesting reconsideration, the Employer asserted that the denial was vague, pointed out that it was a private household and not a company, but ultimately failed to identify how it was verified as a bonafide entity. The employer submitted a passport and her most recent tax return and further argued that neither her nor her legal counsel were ever contacted regarding verification of the employer’s existence. After reviewing the request, the CO denied reconsideration. The CO stated that providing a Social Security number was not a valid substitute for a FEIN. The matter was referred to BALCA for review. In the employer’s brief, she based her argument on a denial of due process.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that the regulations require the submission of a FEIN on ETA Form 9089 because the FEIN is used to verify whether an employer is a bona fide entity. The PERM regulations at 20 C.F.R. ยง 656.3 require that an employer possess a valid Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) whether they are a private household or a legitimate company. Case law further provides that the use of a social security number as a substitute for a FEIN is prohibited because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) clearly requires employers to possess a FEIN in order to file tax forms for domestic household employees.

The employer asserted that she was denied due process; however, under the PERM regulations, an employer is given an opportunity to file for reconsideration. In issuing a denial to an employer, the CO shall identify the section or subsection allegedly violated, and the nature of the violation. In this case, the CO’s original denial letter was deficient because it failed to state that the employer needed to provide a FEIN to be verified as a bonafide entity. The CO’s letter had the potential to deny the Employer’s due process rights. However, the CO’s failure to describe the nature of the violation did not prevent the employer from obtaining a labor certification that should have been granted. The only evidence that the employer could have provided for the case to swing in its favor was evidence that the employer had a FEIN at the time she applied for labor certification.

From the record, it was clear that the employer did not possess a FEIN as she used her social security number as a substitute. As stated above, a FEIN is required even for domestic households. In this case, the employer’s failure to obtain a FEIN prior to filing for labor certification rendered her application deficient as a matter of law. Accordingly, although the CO’s original determination letter was deficient, the employer could not be deprived of something to which she was never entitled. The Board recommended that the employer obtain a FEIN and file a new application.

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