On August 25, 2014, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) implemented new password requirements for enhanced security. As such, on or before November 23, 2014, all Permanent Case Management System (PERM) users will be required to change their existing passwords. In addition, PERM users will be required to change their passwords every 90 days. The PERM system will send PERM users’ reminder emails as these dates approach. Please refer to the External PERM Quick Start Guide which can found via the following link for instructions on how to properly change an existing PERM password: http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/PERM_QstartGuide_ExAcct_Mgmt_LB.pdf. A word of warning, if an existing PERM password is not changed with the 90 day period, the PERM user will need to re-activate their account by identifying themselves, selecting a secret question and providing the correct answer.
The Department of State has released the October Visa Bulletin and all EB3 categories saw forward movement with the EB3 Philippines and the All Other categories surging forward 6 months. Unfortunately, EB2 India saw no forward movement and the DOS predicted that retrogression in this category could come as early as Nov. As a practical matter, this means that if you are in the EB2 category and your priority date is current, get your I-485 filed by the end of October and if you are already filed, respond to any RFE’s as quickly as possible as the window is closing quickly.
En Banc Panel of BALCA Reverses CO’s Denial on Advertising Content Requirements for Additional Recruitment Steps
The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently issued a decision that discussed the content requirements of advertisements that are placed as part of the additional recruitment steps in labor certification. In Matter of Symantec Corporation, the employer chose to place an advertisement on a job search website as one of the three additional recruitment steps that are required in the labor certification process for professional occupations. The Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied the case on the basis that this advertisement included a travel requirement that was not listed on the ETA 9089. Specifically, the advertisement stated that the individual filling the role “may be required to work . . . at various unanticipated sites throughout the United States.” The CO stated that this violated provisions of the federal regulations that discuss the content requirements for the mandatory recruitment steps and referenced Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC for support of the idea that the advertising content requirements of the additional recruitment steps must match those that are demanded of the mandatory recruitment steps. After receiving a request from the CO, an en banc panel of BALCA reviewed the case and determined that the content requirements for the mandatory recruitment steps are not imposed on the additional recruitment steps. Specifically, this en banc panel reviewed the relevant regulations and found that they were silent on specific content requirements for the additional recruitment steps. Consequently, it found that the Department of Labor (“DOL”) “did not intend to impose these content requirements on all types of advertisements.” Instead, employers must only advertise “the occupation involved in the application” in the additional recruitment steps, not the “job opportunity.” Finally, BALCA reminded the DOL that a “CO may not deny a [PERM application] based on a petitioning employer’s failure to comply with an unwritten requirement that has no basis in the clear text of the regulations.” The Hammond Law Group applauds BALCA for clarifying the advertisement content requirements of the additional recruitment steps and for this well-reasoned decision.
The DOS has released the September Visa Bulletin, and as is typical for the last bulletin of the fiscal year, most categories saw no movement however, EB2 India and EB3 Philippines saw forward jumps. There is great anticipation for the October Bulletin to see if India EB2 holds its ground or retrogresses.
The August Visa Bulletin has been released and India EB2 and Philippine EB3 categories continued to see significant advancement while EB3 all other countries remained at April 2011. This bulletin is obviously welcome news for India EB2 but, it does come with a dire warning of future retrogression in this category possibly as early as September so the word of the day is to get your 485 cases filed quickly and your 485 RFE’s responded to as quickly as possible.
The DOL has published new prevailing wages which can be accessed at the FLCDatacenter. The new wages went into effect July 1st. These wages are the source used by the DOL in issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWD’s) utilized for PERM applications and certain other immigrant petitions. This on-line data is also commonly used by employers in determining the prevailing wage for H-1b petitions.
The Department of State has released the July Visa Bulletin and if you are India EB2 or Philippines EB3, you should be ecstatic as the your priority dates jumped forward almost 4 years and 1 year, respectively. Unfortunately, no other category saw significant movement and the EB3 all other country category saw no movement.
On May 22, 2014, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) issued a decision in Matter of Kentrox, Inc. that considered how an employer could demonstrate that it is infeasible to train a U.S. worker for a position sponsored through labor certification. The employer filed a PERM case for the position of “Software Engineer” and stated that this position required 24 months of experience as a software engineer, software developer, or a related occupation. However, when the employer listed the alien’s work experience, it only listed his position with the sponsoring employer. The Certifying Officer (“CO”) stated in an audit notification that the alien’s experience was gained from working for the employer in a position that was identical to the one sponsored. Per the PERM regulations, an employee may not qualify for a position sponsored through labor certification by using his experience gained with the sponsoring employer in an identical role. In response, the employer argued that it was not feasible to train a new worker for this position and provided a detailed letter from its Vice President of Engineering. The CO denied the labor certification. In considering the case, BALCA reviewed prior case law and found that employers must meet a heavy burden to prove that it is infeasible to train. It stated that “documentation must show more than just inefficiency . . . and that [BALCA is] generally skeptical about claims of infeasibility to train.” However, in reviewing the letter from the employer’s Vice President of Engineering, it found that the employer had provided a number of specific examples of the position’s challenges, had explained the critical timelines involved in the work that the alien was performing, and explored why even qualified candidates would not be able to receive the necessary knowledge to perform effectively in this role. BALCA found that his statements were “thorough and specific, and [were] obviously written by a person with firsthand knowledge about whether training for the position . . . was feasible given the employer’s business situation.” Consequently, the denial was overturned. While this case does provide support for employers that wish to demonstrate that it is infeasible to train a U.S. worker, the standard in these cases is high and should only be considered after careful review of the relevant factors involved in the position.
On April 24, 2013, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) discussed whether or not advertisements in one newspaper could count as multiple recruitment steps. In Matter of Delta Search Labs, Inc., the employer sponsored the position of “marketing manager.” As part of its recruitment effort, it placed two Sunday advertisements in the Boston Globe. It also listed the position opening in the Boston Globe during the week. The employer argued that the advertisement placed during the week should count as recruitment in a local newspaper. The case was selected for audit and the Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied it on the basis that the employer had replicated a previously used recruitment step through placing a weekday advertisement in the same newspaper that the mandatory Sunday advertisements ran. The employer requested that the CO’s decision be reconsidered and submitted substantial evidence that showed that the weekday editions of the Boston Globe reaches a different population than the Sunday edition and has higher circulation numbers than any of its local competitors. Consequently, the employer argued that a weekday advertisement in the Boston Globe was the most appropriate medium to attract able, willing, and qualified candidates. In reviewing the case, BALCA stated that the Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s FAQ’s on PERM do not “address the issue of whether one publication could, based on its daily and weekend circulation figures, serve as both a local and general circulation publication.” Furthermore, BALCA also found that the regulations “do not specifically prohibit an employer from using the same newspaper as both a newspaper of general circulation and a local or ethnic newspaper, provided the newspaper satisfies both categories.” Consequently, the CO’s decision was reversed. While this case provides support for the idea that a newspaper could appropriately be used as a local newspaper and as a newspaper of general circulation, BALCA found support to reverse this decision in the fact that the CO did not make a determination about whether the Boston Globe could count as a local newspaper and a newspaper of general circulation. Employers who are considering using advertisements in one newspaper to fulfill the mandatory recruitment steps and as a local newspaper must carefully document why they believe that the newspaper meets both criteria.