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DOL Halts PERM Denials Based upon “Competitive Salary”

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) recently meet with the Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (“OFLC”) for its quarterly stakeholder meeting. In this meeting, the OFLC informed AILA that it had suspended denying cases on the basis that the recruitment stated that a “competitive salary” was offered or that salary “depends on experience.” This decision was based upon the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeal’s (“BALCA”) recent findings in Matter of TekServices, which found these denials to be unsupported under the law. The Hammond Law Group hopes that BALCA is able to quickly overturn the denials that were made on this particular issue.

BALCA Reverses Denial based on “Competitive Salary”

Many employers have been frustrated by the DOL’s decision to deny labor certifications where an employer used the language of “competitive salary” or “depends on experience” in portions of their recruitment. The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) provided a decision in Matter of TEK Services LLC that may assist employers in fighting against these unwarranted denials. In this case, the employer submitted a labor certification on behalf of a “Computer Systems Analyst.” As part of its recruitment effort, the employer stated that the position offered a “competitive salary” in the job order and on the employer’s website. The Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied the case based upon 20 C.F.R. § 656.24(b)(2) and noted that the advertisements placed by the employer do “not adequately apprise U.S. workers of the nature of the wage . . . also can dissuade some U.S. workers from applying for the job opportunity, and mislead others.” In reviewing 20 C.F.R. § 656.24(b)(2), BALCA noted that it provides the basis upon which a labor certification can be granted or denied, including how the CO should consider the employer’s compliance with the attestation that no qualified, available, and willing U.S. worker was applied. However, it does not list any requirement in regards to salary. Consequently, BALCA “rejected the CO’s effort to utilize 20 C.F.R. § 656.24(b)(2) as a catch-all denial ground encompassing any employer action that the CO deems problematic, despite citing no specific regulatory requirement that the employer has violated.” The Hammond Law Group applauds BALCA for reminding the DOL that it cannot make up new standards that have no basis in the federal regulations.

By |November 22nd, 2016|Green Cards|0 Comments|

DOL Issues Guidance on Recruitment Reports

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently released a FAQ on the information that should be included in recruitment reports. Recruitment reports are required to be prepared as part of the process of preparing a labor certification to be filed. The DOL specified that a recruitment report must include: (1) the total number of U.S. applicants who applied for the position, (2) the total number of U.S. applicants hired for the position, and (3) the total number of U.S. applicants who were rejected based upon a lawful job-related reason. The lawful job-related reasons for rejecting U.S. workers should be categorized. The DOL further specified that employers should list the total number of U.S. applicants who were interviewed and a list of the names of U.S. workers who were rejected under each category. Finally, if an applicant was rejected under multiple categories, the category that he is listed under must state the multiple bases of rejection. For instance, if a candidate was rejected because he did not have the necessary education and did not have the required total years of experience, he should fall under a category titled “candidates lacking the required education and experience.” The DOL specified that this type of categorization will “enable the certifying officer to clearly establish the reason for disqualification of each U.S. worker.”

BALCA Reverses Denial where Employer Failed to State Geographic Area of Employment on Website Posting

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently considered whether a website advertisement that did not list the location of employment failed to apprise U.S. workers of the nature of the role. In Matter of VLS It Consulting, Inc., the employer submitted a labor certification for the position of “Computer Systems Manager/ Training Division Manager.” The case was audited and denied on the basis that the website advertisement did not list the geographic area of employment. The Certifying Officer argued that the lack of worksite location information violated 20 C.F.R. §656.17(f)(4). The employer appealed and argued that its corporate address was ‘listed on the homepage and the ‘contact us’ portion of the website.” BALCA reviewed the case and reminded the Department of Labor that 20 C.F.R. §656.17(f)(4) only applies to advertisements placed in newspapers of general circulation. Thus, this statutory section could not serve as a basis for denial. Furthermore, BALCA determined that since the employer’s address was listed on other sections of its website, no U.S. worker was misinformed of the nature of the job opportunity. BALCA reiterated that “when relevant information on a website advertisement is a ‘simple mouse click’ away, denial of certification is not supported by the regulations.” While this case does support the idea that the location of employment is not required to be listed on website advertisements, the Hammond Law Group suggests that all advertisements include the location of employment to avoid improper denials by the Department of Labor.

By |September 29th, 2016|Green Cards|0 Comments|

Search Results Page is Insufficient Documentation of a Website Posting

Recently, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA’) considered whether a search results page could serve as alternative documentation to dated copies of the posting on the employer’s website. In Matter of Spring Branch Independent School District, the employer sponsored the position of “Elementary (Pre-K-5th grade) – Bilingual (Spanish) Teacher.” The case was audited and the employer submitted a copy from its human resources job search page showing the position’s title, the salary, the position’s classification as professional, and that the role would have a probationary contract. No other information regarding the role was provided on this page. The Department of Labor (“DOL”) denied the case on the basis that the employer failed to provide copies of the website posting that included the language of the advertisement. In reviewing the case, BALCA noted that an employer may provide alternative documentation of its website positing beyond dated copies of the website listing. However, it also found the content of these advertisements must be provided so that the DOL can determine “whether the advertisement is for the occupation listed on the ETA Form 9089 and whether the advertisement was placed in good faith and the job was clearly open to U.S. applicants.” Consequently, the denial was upheld. While employers can use alternative documentation to prove that a position was listed on the employer’s website, the Hammond Law Group suggests that dated copies of the website posting that include the language of the advertisement be included in the recruitment report and in any response to an audit.

BALCA Overturns Denial After Using a ‘Totality of the Circumstances’ Test

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently overturned a denial after considering whether the employer had established by the totality of the circumstances that recruitment conducted for a position sponsored through labor certification demonstrated that the position had been open to U.S. workers. The employer sponsored the position of “Preschool Teacher” for labor certification. In drafting the Form 9089, the employer stated that the minimum education requirement was a “foreign equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree.” The Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied the case on the basis that the position was not open to U.S. workers because “by definition, a foreign degree equivalency requirement makes it impossible for most U.S. workers to qualify for the job opportunity.” The employer appealed the denial and stated that the position’s actual education requirement was a Bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent. In reviewing the case, BALCA noted that it most consider the content of the employer’s recruitment efforts, not the content of the Form 9089. In addition, it specified that a totality of the circumstances test would be applied to establish whether a position was open to U.S. workers. BALCA stated that the recruitment for the position noted that a domestic Bachelor’s degree would be acceptable and determined that no U.S. worker was rejected for possessing a domestic Bachelor’s degree only. Consequently, it determined that the position had been open to U.S. workers under a totality of the circumstances test and overturned the denial. This case provides information regarding the legal standard that will be used to determine whether a position sponsored through labor certification is open to U.S. workers.

BALCA Determines Spelling Error in Employer’s Name in Job Order Did Not Discourage U.S. Workers

BALCA recently determined that a minor typographical error in the name of an employer on a state-workforce agency job order did not discourage U.S. workers from applying when the employer was known by a different trade name. The employer submitted a labor certification for the position of “Food Service Manager.” In the job order, the employer listed its name as “SWOWII, Inc.” However, the employer’s actual name was “SWDWII, LLC.” The Certifying Officer denied the case on the basis that this error would harm the ability of U.S. workers to identify the employer and would result in the Office of Foreign Labor Certification being unable to confirm whether the employer appropriately engaged in recruitment. BALCA reviewed information submitted by the employer that showed that it was a franchise of Saladworks and generally conducted business as “Harmony Saladworks” or “Harmony Plaza Saladworks.” BALCA determined that “because the employer’s legal name has little to do with the employer’s public identity, . . . a minor typographical error . . . on the job order would do little to confuse potential applicants about the employer’s identity.” Consequently, the denial was overturned. While employer’s should ensure that they correctly identify their name on all recruitment documentation that is conducted as part of the labor certification process, this decision does provide support for the idea that an error in the spelling of a name must actually cause potential applicants to be unable to identify the employer.

BALCA Overturns Denial Resulting from Inconsistencies in 9089 Instructions and Form

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently determined that a typographical error resulting from inconsistencies between the labor certification form and its instructions could not serve as a basis for a denial. In Matter of UBS Securities LLC, the employer submitted a labor certification for a Director, Derivative Business Control Group. In the Form 9089, the employer listed that the position’s primary requirements were a Bachelor’s degree and 60 months of experience. The employer also stated that it would accept an alternative requirement of a Master’s degree and 36 years of experience. Per the federal regulations, primary and alternative requirements must be equivalent. The Department of Labor has historically found that a Bachelor’s degree and five years of overall progressive experience and a Master’s degree and three years of experience are equivalent. The Certifying Officer denied the case because it found that a Master’s degree and 36 years of experience is not equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree and 60 months of experience. In response, the employer argued that the Form 9089 “asks for primary experience requirement in terms of months, while the alternate experience requirement must be entered in terms of years.” Thus, the employer listed a requirement of 36 years in the alternate requirement section when it only required 36 months of experience. In reviewing the case, BALCA determined that the Form 9089 instructs applicants to state the number of years of experience. In contrast, the instructions to the Form 9089 directs employers to enter the number of months of experience. Since there was a discrepancy between the form and the instructions, BALCA found that “such inconsistencies ‘must be construed against the promulgator of the form and / or instructions, not the applicant.’” Consequently, the denial was overturned. It is critical that employers carefully read the requirements of every form submitted to the U.S. government. However, this case does assist employers who are faced with inconsistent requests in a form and its instructions.

BALCA Affirms that Travel Language Must be Included in Advertisements

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) has historically determined that employers must indicate in advertisements that travel is expected when a sponsored position has a travel requirement. In Matter of IT Works International, Inc., BALCA upheld this precedent. In this case, the employer submitted a labor certification on behalf of a “Sales Manager – Technical.” In the ETA Form 9089, the employer stated that the position would require “work at various unanticipated locations throughout the U.S.” However, the newspaper advertisements that were conducted as part of the recruitment effort for this case failed to disclose this requirement. The case was audited and the Certifying Officer denied the case on the basis that the employer failed to disclose the travel requirement. The employer argued that its advertisements “increased the chances of qualified U.S. workers applying because some qualified potential applications who initially would not be willing to relocate might reconsider after the employer had the opportunity to interview them.” BALCA reviewed prior case law and the Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s FAQ’s on the PERM program and determined that the employer’s failure to state the travel requirements in the newspaper advertisements was a “clear violation of 20 C.F.R. § 656.17 (f)(4).” Consequently, the denial was upheld. BALCA has routinely found that employers must include travel requirements in advertisements if the sponsored role involves travel. The Hammond Law Group urges employers to include travel language in advertisements to avoid these types of denials and is happy to advise about appropriate language to include in advertisements that are part of a PERM recruitment effort.

BALCA Notes Timing Inconsistency in 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(e)(2)

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently reviewed timing inconsistencies that are listed in the federal regulations that govern the recruitment validity periods for labor certifications. The employer submitted a labor certification for a “Stonemason.” The Form 9089 was mailed to the Department of Labor on September 11, 2009 and received by this agency on September 14, 2009. The employer listed on the Form 9089 that it had placed a state workforce agency job order from March 17, 2009 until April 15, 2009. The Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied the application because it stated that the job order was placed more than 180 days from the date that the Form 9089 was filed. BALCA reviewed 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(e)(2), which states that “if the application is for a nonprofessional occupation, the employer must . . . place a job order and two newspaper advertisements within 6 months of filing the application. The steps must be conducted at least 30 days but no more than 180 days before the filing of the application.” BALCA noted that these statements can be contradictory. In the instant case the employer did submit its application within six months of March 17, 2009 because six months from this date is September 17, 2009. However, there are more than 180 days between March 17, 2009 and September 14, 2009. Consequently, BALCA stated that it would “decline to penalize an employer for the inconsistency [of the federal regulations].” While this case does support the idea that recruitment may occur in the six months prior to filing a labor certification, Hammond Law Group urges employer’s to file all cases within the 180 day period in which recruitment occurred to avoid the potential for denial.