And you think your I-485 case has pending too long (with a current priority date) ? Try fourteen (14) years ! In a recent court decision, a Federal judge in Virginia ruled that a mandamus action could proceed against the USCIS for its failure to adjudicate an I-485 application filed in 1999. The Federal judge does not have the authority to require the USCIS to approve the case but, the judge can force the USCIS to make a decision. In a position consistent with its current policy of acting without regard to the law, the USCIS fought to have it declared that a Federal judge may not review any of its actions or in this case, inaction. Basically, the USCIS sought to argue that they answered to no one ! Nice to see a Federal Court tell them otherwise.
The Department of State (DOS) has released the March Visa Bulletin and the rapid forward movement has slowed. The DOS also made predictions for future months. These predictions include: further EB3 worldwide (all other countries) may not move forward and in fact, if demand materializes, actually see a retrogression; EB2 India will see no forward movement; EB3 Philippines should expect 3-6 weeks each month. Retrogression remains a serious impediment to legal immigration to the U.S. and needs a legislative solution.
The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently issued a decision that discussed ‘on the job’ experience in the context of PERM. In Matter of Maxim Integrated Products, Inc., the employer submitted a labor certification for the position of “Electronics Engineer.” This position required either a Master’s degree and no experience or a Bachelor’s degree and 60 months of experience. The Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied the application because it found that the foreign worker’s educational background and experience did not meet the requirements of the position. Specifically, the foreign worker did not obtain his master’s degree until after he was hired by the sponsoring employer and only had 46.5 months of experience at the time of hiring. The employer submitted a request for reconsideration and argued that it should be able to count experience that the foreign worker gained while working for the employer because he held two substantially different roles. The federal regulations provide that the Department of Labor will consider experience gained at the sponsoring employer if this experience was acquired in a “position not substantially comparable” to the sponsored role. The employer argued that the foreign worker was initially hired as an associate member of the technical staff and then was later promoted to be a member of the technical staff. In reviewing the CO’s decision, BALCA stated that the employer failed to delineate the differences between the two roles on the ETA 9089. Consequently, the CO was not alerted to the difference between the positions. Based on this finding, BALCA upheld the denial. Employers who hope to use experience that an employee gained while working for their organization must ensure that the roles are substantially different and must draft the ETA 9089 carefully to ensure that the roles are clearly shown to be dissimilar.
On Tuesday night, President Obama gave the annual State of the Union address and immigration and CIR were not featured very prominently and that may be a good sign. If you did not catch the address, here is what President Obama said about the need for immigration reform,
“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”
The lack of specifics and a seemingly deferential attitude toward allowing the legislative process to work, a stark contrast to other portions of his speech and certainly not characteristic of his Presidency, gives us hope that he believes the two sides are close and an agreement is possible. Comments made later by influential Democrat, Nancy Pelosi echo this sentiment. Although this may all be wishful thinking, in the midst of a bitterly cold winter, wishful thinking is often all we have.
Last week, the DHS published the updated list of countries where US employers could hire H-2a or H-2b workers. The omission of India from the list prevents the use of the H-2b category for IT positions.
BALCA Determines that Posting a Link on the Employer’s Website to a Job Posting is not a Valid Recruitment Step
On December 30, 2013, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) issued a decision that discussed appropriate ways to use the employer’s website as an additional form of recruitment. The employer submitted an Application for Permanent Employment Certification for the position of “Assistant Sports Editor.” In the application, the employer stated that it had placed the position on its website as an additional recruitment step. The case was audited and the employer submitted documentation that showed that it had placed a career link on the bottom of its webpage that redirected users to the employer’s profile on hotjobs.com. The CO determined that the employer had not correctly documented that the position had been placed on its website and denied the case. BALCA reviewed the regulations at 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(e), which state that posting a position on the employer’s website “can be documented by providing dated copies of pages from the site that advertise the occupation.” BALCA determined that the documents provided by the employer showed that the position had been posted on hotjobs.com. However, it stated that they were insufficient to show that the position had been listed on the employer’s website because the regulations “contemplate[d] that the employer’s website will include actual ‘pages . . . that advertise the occupation,’ not just a link to a page that is located on a separate job search . . . website.” Consequently, the denial was upheld. This decision confirms that employers should post the job opportunity on the career section of their website and keep dated copies of the posting so that they can ensure that their recruitment steps are considered valid.
The DOS has released the February Visa Bulletin and several categories saw forward movement of approx. 2 months. The anomaly of PRC EB3 being several years ahead of PRC EB2 and the gap widening continued. EB3 for the Philippines saw a nice jump of 2 months. India saw no movement. Retrogression remains a serious problem that needs a legislative fix.