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BALCA Affirms that Content Requirements of 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(f) Don’t Apply to Job Orders

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently affirmed that the content requirements that are specified in the federal regulations for newspaper advertisements in 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(f) do not pertain to state workforce agency job orders. The employer submitted a labor certification for the position of “computer software engineers, systems software” and specified in the Form 9089 that the position required five years of experience. The case was audited and denied because the job order that the employer provided stated that the position had an experience requirement of “greater than 5 years.” The employer appealed the decision and noted that the Illinois state workforce agency job order site only provided a set number of experience options that included “3-5 years” and “greater than 5 years.” The employer stated that it choose the option of “greater than five years because it was the most appropriate since ‘3-5 years’ was not an accurate reflection of tis experience requirement.” BALCA reviewed Matter of Chabad Lubavitch Center, 2011-PER-2614, and noted that the requirements of 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(f) only apply to “advertisements placed in newspapers of general circulation or in professional journals.” BALCA also found that the federal regulations that govern job orders are silent in regards to whether the content requirements of 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(f) apply to job orders, which lead it to believe that the Department of Labor “did not intend to impose these content requirements on all types of advertisements.” Many state workforce agencies provide limited options in regards what can be selected for experience requirements. This case instructs the DOL that it may not deny cases when the state workforce agency fails to allow employers to specify the exact requirements of the position.

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Notice of Filing Is Not Required to List Every Job Duty and Requirement

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently determined that the notice of filing that must be posted before a labor certification is eligible to be filed is not required to list every job duty and requirement of a position that is being sponsored. In Matter of Eteam, Inc., the employer sponsored the position of “Programmer Analyst.” On the Form 9089, the employer specified that the position required a master’s degree in Computer Science or Engineering and one graduate course in database management and network security. This post-secondary education must have included software development using Unix and Perl. The case was audited and the employer submitted a notice of filing that did not state the education requirement or the coursework requirement of this position. The Certifying Officer denied the case on this basis. The case was appealed. BALCA reviewed a prior case, Architectural Stone Accents, Inc., which held that the federal regulations that govern notice of filings do not require every job requirement to be listed. While BALCA reiterated that notice of filings play an important role in ensuring that employees can provide information to a Certifying Officer about an employer’s application, it reiterated that the federal regulations “only require the [notice of filing] to contain information specific enough to apprise the U.S. workers of the job opportunity. The Employment and Training Administration did not write a regulation that mandates the employer list specific job requirements in a [notice of filing].” Consequently, BALCA determined that the notice of filing offered by the employer in this case was sufficiently detailed to inform U.S. workers of the job opportunity and overturned the decision. This case provides critical information about the content requirements of notice of filings.

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BALCA Affirms that Additional Recruitment Steps May Be ‘Broadly Worded”

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently considered whether advertisements that constitute part of the additional recruitment steps for a labor certification case must identify the job location. In Matter of Screen Printers Resource, Inc., the employer submitted a labor certification for the position of “International Sales and Service Business Development.” The case was audited and, ultimately, denied because the Certifying Officer (“CO”) determined that the employer’s website posting did not list the job location. The CO argued that U.S. workers may be unwilling to apply for a position that did not list a job location. BALCA reviewed Matter of Symantec Corp., which found that the advertisement content requirements that are imposed on newspapers of general circulation are not applicable to the additional recruitment steps. These additional steps must only advertise the occupation involved in the petition and may be “broadly worded.” BALCA reviewed the employer’s advertisement and stated that it “described the title of the job, the responsibilities of the job, the educational, work experience, and knowledge requirements of the job, and where the applicant could email or fax a resume.” While BALCA stated that the advertisement was “not detailed, it is not misleading.” Consequently, the denial was overturned. This case further confirms that the advertisements placed as part of the additional recruitment steps that are conducted in the PERM process do not have to be as detailed as those placed in a newspaper of general circulation.

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BALCA Provides Information About Proof of Additional Recruitment Steps

Recently, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) considered whether dated screenshots and a CD with an audio recording of a radio advertisement constituted sufficient proof to establish that these additional recruitment steps occurred as part of the PERM process. In Matter of Waldorf School of Orange County, the employer submitted a labor certification case for the position of “Teacher.” The case was audited and the employer provided screenshots from its website that included the date and time to establish that it had posted the position on its website. The employer also provided a CD that included an audio copy of the posted advertisement that was placed on the radio and the broadcast contract. The Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied the case on the basis that screenshots did not constitute dated copies of the website posting as required under the law. The CO also stated that the employer failed to provide a copy of the text of the radio advertisement. BALCA reviewed the denial and reiterated that the “documentation requirement [for website postings] should be read with a degree of flexibility.” BALCA determined that screenshots are “dated copies” of the posting on the employer’s website and that an employer “need not submit a written text of a radio advertisement.” Rather, an audio recording is sufficient proof of the text of the advertisement that was carried on a radio station. Consequently, this denial was overturned. This case provides helpful information about how employers can document postings on their website and on radio stations to establish that they conducted the additional recruitment steps that are required as part of the labor certification process.

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BALCA Reverses Denial Based Upon Failure to Include Travel Requirements in Job Order and Job Search Website

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently issued a decision in Matter of First Tek Technologies, Inc. that reiterated that job orders and advertisements conducted to fulfill the additional recruitment steps for a labor certification case are not subject to the advertisement content requirements specified in 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(f). The employer filed an Application for Permanent Employment Certification for the role of “Programmer / Analyst.” The case was audited and the Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied the case on the basis that the employer’s job order and the advertisement conducted through a job search website “did not include a travel requirements listed on the ETA Form 9089.” The CO cited 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(f) as the basis for the denial. 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(f) applies to “advertisements placed in newspapers of general circulation [and] professional journals.” In reviewing prior case history, BALCA determined that the Matter of Chabad Lubavitch Center and Matter of Symatec Corporation cases established that job orders and advertisements conducted to fulfill the additional recruitment steps are not required to “comply with the detailed content requirements of section 656.17(f).” Thus, the denial was overturned. The content requirements for the advertisements that are conducted as part of a recruitment effort for a labor certification case involve many nuances. The Hammond Law Group is happy to assist employers in drafting appropriate advertisements that meet the Department of Labor’s requirements.

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BALCA Overturns Denial Where Mailed in ETA Form 9089 was Denied for Failure to Confirm Sponsorship

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently overturned the denial of a labor certification case that was submitted through the mail on the basis that the employer’s signature on the labor certification established that it was sponsoring the foreign worker. In Matter of La Hacienda Meat Market, Inc., the employer submitted a labor certification for the position of “Buyer / Produce.” The employer mailed the ETA Form 9089 to the Department of Labor because the employer was unable to pre-register electronically with the Atlanta National Processing Center. The mailed-in labor certification included a signature from the President of La Hacienda Meat Market in the employer’s declaration section. The Certifying Officer attempted to contact the employer three times by telephone to confirm sponsorship, but was unable to reach anyone. Consequently, the case was denied. BALCA reviewed the decisions of a number of cases that involved similar fact patterns and determined that “when an ETA Form 9089 is submitted via mail and includes the employer’s sworn statement under penalty of perjury certifying as to the conditions of employment offered, sponsorship is adequately verified.” Thus, the denial was overturned. While it is preferable to submit a labor certification through the online system, this case provides guidance that establishes that an employer’s signature on the ETA Form 9089 is sufficient to confirm sponsorship.

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BALCA Affirms Denial Where Employer Failed to Include its Name on the Notice of Filing

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently considered whether the failure to include the name of the employer on a notice of filing is fatal to a PERM application. In Matter of G.O.T. Supply, Inc., the employer submitted an Application for Permanent Employment Certification for the position of “Welder-Fitter.” The case was selected for audit and the Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied the case on the basis that the employer failed to include its name in the notice of filing. In response, the employer argued that any potential employee would be able to identify the name of the employer because the notice of filing listed the employer’s President’s name and was posted at the employer’s premises. Alternatively, the employer argued that the failure to include the employer’s name in the notice of filing was a harmless error. In reviewing the case, BALCA reiterated that the federal regulations specify that the notice of filing must contain the name of the employer. It also stated that the notice of filing is “not a mere technicality, but is an implementation of a statutory notice requirement designed to assist interested persons in providing relevant information to the CO about an employer’s certification application,” and, thus, is not “to be lightly dismissed under a harmless error finding.” BALCA determined that in failing to provide the employer’s name, an individual who hoped to provide information to the CO about the application would be thwarted due to their inability to provide the name of the employer. Consequently, the denial was upheld. In drafting notice of filings, it is important that employers include all of the information specified in the advertisement content requirements that have been specified for the PERM program.

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BALCA Affirms Denial Where the Employer Made a Clerical Error in the Prevailing Wage Validity Period

In Matter of Simona Luca Vricella, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) continued its trend of upholding denials in cases where a clerical error occurred in drafting the ETA 9089. In this case, the employer submitted a labor certification on behalf of a “Houseworker, General, Live-In.” In the labor certification, the employer listed a prevailing wage validity period of March 28, 2009 through April 1, 2010. The prevailing wage that was issued provided a validity period of April 2, 2009 to April 1, 2010. The Certifying Officer denied the case because the prevailing wage validity period exceeded the “one year maximum outlined in 20 C.F.R. Section 656.40(c).” The employer appealed the denial and argued that it made a clerical error in entering the prevailing wage validity period on the ETA 9089. In reviewing the case, BALCA noted that “PERM is an exacting process, designed to eliminate back-and-forth between applicants and the government, and to favor administrative efficiency over dialogue in order to better serve the public interest overall.” Since the employer incorrectly completed the labor certification and BALCA reiterated that the PERM program is supposed to highlight administrative efficiency, the denial was upheld. When drafting labor certifications, it is critical that employers correctly list the required information to avoid these types of denials.

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BALCA Upholds Denial Where Sponsored Employee Held an Ownership Interest in the Employer

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently considered whether a fair labor market test occurred when an employee owned 50 percent of the sponsoring employer and usually made hiring decisions. In Matter of Step By Step Day Care, LLC, the employer sponsored the position of “Daycare Center Director” for Jennifer Colyer. The ETA 9089 specified that the employer was a closely-held corporation in which Ms. Colyer held an ownership interest. The case was selected for audit and the employer responded with evidence that (1) Ms. Colyer and her husband owned the employer and each held a 50 percent ownership share; (2) Ms. Colyer held the position of Director; and (3) recruitment was conducted by Gail Green, a subordinate of Ms. Colyer. The Certifying Officer denied the case on the basis that the employer’s evidence did not overcome the presumption that the job offer was not bona fide because the employer was a “closely held corporation, in which the alien has an ownership interest . . . and is one of a small number of employees.” The denial was appealed. In reviewing the decision, BALCA listed ten factors that should be considered to determine whether a bona fide job offer existed in a closely held corporation. BALCA determined that the denial should be upheld because a true test of the labor market did not occur. BALCA based this decision upon the fact that (1) Ms. Coyler held a 50 percent ownership interest in the employer, (2) is involved in the management of the company, (3) is related by marriage to the co-owner, (4) is one of a small number of employees, and (5) was in a position to influence the hiring decision for this role. Cases in which an employer sponsors an employee who is an owner or is related to an owner of the sponsoring organization are often audited. Consequently, the Hammond Law Group suggests that employers speak to an attorney before moving forward with these types of cases.

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Government Agency Actions - USCIS, ICE, etc.

BALCA Affirms Denial Where Employer Failed to Provide Evidence of Contact with U.S. Applicants

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently considered whether an employer failed to comply with a request by the Department of Labor (“DOL”) when it only provided evidence of emails sent to eight of seventeen applicants for a position that was sponsored through PERM. In Matter of Accent-Media Productions, Inc., the employer submitted a labor certification for the position of “Computer Programmer.” The case was selected for audit and the employer provided a chart that identified seventeen applicants for the position and eight email responses from the applicants to the sponsoring employer. The Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied the application on the basis that the employer failed to provide documentation that was requested in the audit request. BALCA determined that the CO notified the employer that it must submit evidence of its attempts to contact U.S. applicants through the audit notification. This request was deemed to be reasonable because evidence of correspondence with U.S. applicants should have been readily available to the sponsoring employer and is “important for the CO to consider in determining whether U.S. applicants were properly rejected for a job opportunity.” Since BALCA determined that this request was reasonable and found that the employer’s “failure to comply with [the] request is material enough to constitute a substantial failure,” the denial was upheld. In reviewing an audit request, it is critical that employers ensure that they are providing all of the information that is requested by the DOL.