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DOL's Attorney-Unfriendly PERM Labor Cert. Filing System, Pt. 2. By Roger Algase

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The following post includes revisions made as of 8:42 pm on December 27.

Part 1 of this three-part PERM Labor Certification Christmas story took us to my actual attempt to file an urgent ETA 9089 application through the PERM online system on Christmas eve. As I mentioned, everything that evening looked good to go.

My client's employer PERM account was up and running - user name and password in place and operative - check.

My attorney's sub-account with its own user name and password was also in place and operative - check. More than that, I had already filled in the 12 pages of the online form, dealing, in my best professional judgment, with every possible legal land mine and booby-trap normal to these cases involved, and I had finally come to the glorious moment where all I had to do was click the "submit" button, and the ETA-9089 would finally be filed, as had been done without incident or difficulty in my other PERM cases.

Then according to the usual scenario, the employer could look forward to an email from the DOL asking if the company really knew that I had in fact gone ahead and filed the case (as it had retained and instructed me to do), and if I had done so with its permission. Talk about government agency-attorney trust and the employer's Sixth Amendment right to counsel - concepts that the DOL did not seem to have been very interested in when it set up the PERM system.

The only thing remaining that I needed to take care of was the little final detail of inputting the employer's DOL assigned PIN number at the end of the electronic ETA 9089 form before pressing "submit". There was nothing wrong with doing that - not only did I know the employer's PIN number, but the DOL itself had sent it to me - in its email notifying me that my attorney sub-account had been set up. It was not in any way unauthorized or secret information.

So I inputted the magic PIN number and pressed "submit". Immediately, instead of receiving confirmation that the application had been successfully submitted, my computer screen showed the following message in red ink:

"PIN has been disabled for this case. You have exceeded Your PIN input attempts. Contact DOL to reinstate your PIN."

What kind of Christmas present was that? Why was the PIN disabled? Who had disabled it? What did the message mean about exceeding my input attempts? This was the first time I had tried to input the PIN, so far as I was aware.

Whom was I supposed to contact in the DOL, and, most important of all, how long would it take to get an answer? The 180-day PERM filing deadline after the beginning of recruitment was imminent, and the DOL foreign labor certification office is known for answering or returning phone calls about as often as Santa has been observed taking selfies while sliding down chimneys.

Also, as indicated in the above notice, was the PIN disabled only for that case? If I tried a new case from the same attorney sub- account, would the PIN work for that case?

Or suppose the employer were to set up a second attorney sub-account for me, assuming this was possible. Would I be able to prepare the same case all over again and file it from the new sub-account, even though the PIN was number was the employer's PIN number for its main account, and therefore would be the same even for a new attorney sub-account?

Lots of interesting questions for Santa to deal with this Christmas, with the filing deadline ticking away faster than even the swiftest reindeer would be likely to arrive at the scene.

The following morning, I began Christmas day by getting ready to prepare an entirely new ETA 9089 form, from the beginning to end, with a different case number, to see if the PIN had in fact been disabled only for the particular case that I had tried to submit the night before. I also (with the help of my paralegal associate, who was kind enough to postpone her own holiday plans) began to prepare a hardcopy paper version of the same form. This was as a backup in case the PIN issue could not be resolved before the filing deadline.

Beginning Christmas eve and continuing on Christmas day, I had also been sending off anguished emails to the DOL help desk asking for reinstatement of the PIN. In addition, I also combed through the previously mentioned 50 page DOL PERM online user system guide to see if I could find out anything about why an employer PIN number could be disabled or what was required in order to reinstate it and how long that would take.

But I could not find a word about disabling or restoring employer online PERM filing account PIN numbers. All that the user guide said was that the PIN numbers were extremely important security tools and that if any employer suspected that its PIN was being misused, it should report this at once.

I began to suspect that somehow, while I was preparing and correcting the original ETA 9089 online form, I had inadvertently run afoul of the DOL's online PERM PIN number police.

To be continued.
____________________________
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business, employment and family-based immigration law for more than 30 years.

His practice is focused on H-1B and O-1 professional and skilled worker visas, J-1 trainee visas, and green cards through labor certification, extraordinary ability and opposite or same sex marriage, among other immigration and citizenship cases.

Roger has helped immigrants from many parts of the world overcome the obstacles of our complex immigration system and achieve their goals of being able to live and work in America. His email contact address is algaselex@gmail.com

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Updated 12-28-2014 at 12:28 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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