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BALCA Clarifies How an Employer Can Satisfy its Obligation Regarding Possible On-the-Job Training

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently suggested how an employer may demonstrate that on-the-job training is necessary for a position. In Microsoft Corp, 2014-PER-00615 (February 25, 2019) the employer rejected an applicant after an interview, finding the applicant was not sufficiently familiar with Scripting, C++, HTML, and Window as required. The Board affirmed the denial and held that the employer had failed to adequately document that the applicant could not qualify after a reasonable period of on-the-job training. BALCA stated that “more than a bare assertion is needed to prove that it is infeasible to train new workers within a reasonable period of on-the-job training.” The court then explained that an employer may demonstrate that on-the-job training is required in the following ways:

documentation from a vocational expert comparing the exact job requirements in the ETA Form 9089 to Applicant C.P.’s education, knowledge, experience, and skills; industry experts explaining the minimal requirements necessary to commence work in the position and why training in noted deficiencies is an not acceptable course of action; or an affidavit of the hiring official detailing the deficiencies noted with the basic job requirements and establishing a business necessity as to why the deficiencies cannot be corrected with any period of on-the-job training.

While some experts argue that this case is overreaching, the case is nonetheless a reminder that employers should explain in detail why on-the-job training is required for a particular position when denying an applicant on this ground.

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BALCA Upholds Denial where Employer Failed to Interview a Potentially Qualifying U.S. Applicant

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently considered whether an employer should interview an applicant during the recruitment process in The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, LTD. In this case, the Employer filed an Application for Permanent Employment Certification (“ETA From 9089”) for the role of “Analyst/Systems Specialist-Systems Office for the Americas.” The case was audited and denied on the basis that the Employer unlawfully rejected a potentially qualified U.S. applicant without an interview. BALCA upheld the denial. First, the Employer required an Associate’s Degree “in any field” or 36 months of experience in “[r]elated tech exp w/systems analysis, design&dvlpt [sic], w/.NET, C#, C, C++, VBA.” Therefore, the fact that the Applicant did not list an Associate’s Degree on his or her resume was not an appropriate basis of disqualification. Second, the Applicant had more than 15 years of software development experience so it was reasonable to conclude that he may have 36 months of experience in the necessary skill sets. Notably, BALCA also rejected the Employer’s argument that the Applicant was not qualified because he had experience in “SQL programming language” and the Employer required technical development experience with “SQL Server (AF11).” BALCA explained that this did not matter because Section H of the ETA From 9089 did require experience with a particular type or version of SQL.

This case is thus a sobering reminder that employers should error on the side of caution and interview (or inquire further regarding) possibly qualifying U.S. applicants.

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Don’t take a chance when filing a PERM case.

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently ordered a PERM Labor Certification application to be certified following the Certifying Officer’s denial due to a salary range mismatch between the PERM application and the Notice of Filing.

In re Institute for Environmental Health, Inc., 2013-PERM-01963 (BALCA 2016) involved the classic PERM situation where a discrepancy between what was listed on the 9089 and prefilling recruitment/notice documentation leads to a denial. The employer in this case attested on the 9089 that the prevailing wage was $25,022.40 and that the offered wage was $25,023. However, on the notice of filing the employer listed a salary range of $25,023 to $34,837.

Given the exacting requirements of the PERM process lawyers generally aim to have their recruitment mirror the requirements listed on the 9089. The so called “matchy-matchy” doctrine has aided many lawyers navigating tricky PERM waters. In this case, BALCA ruled that the regulations is “clear and unambiguous” on allowing a salary range in the notice of filing even though the 9089 only listed the offered wage.

I suspect the Board’s action (three years after the initial denial) saving this PERM from floundering was well received by the employer. I also suspect that when counsel of record files another PERM case they will match their 9089 and recruitment / notices.

Even if one is ultimately correct and wins on appeal, knowing how cases are handled by DOL officers will save employers heartaches and legal fees. For guidance on your PERM application, contact Hammond Law Group.