The CNMI Labor Department is reviewing employer compliance with USCIS rules, according to director Alfred Pangelinan yesterday.
“We are looking at how employers sought U.S. citizen applicants. USCIS rules require a reasonable effort to locate qualified U.S. citizen applicants, and we are finding ads that do not comply with this standard,” Pangelinan said.
He referred to ads that have been determined to have failed the “reasonable” standard because they were intended to discourage rather than encourage U.S. citizens from applying.
“Some employers make themselves obscure in their job announcements, like ‘we are just advertising for the sake of compliance with the law but we really do not want you to know who we are or see you. Just send your resume by e-mail’ (another obscure e-mail address)-that kind of thing,” Pangelinan said.
“There are some employers who say ‘no walk-ins accepted.’ In others, the location of the business was not given or the business name appears to be one of those corporations with more than one [‘doing business as’]. It is more problematic for U.S. citizens to apply when they have no idea who the business is or where the business is located. Normally, employers would want jobseekers to know about them, the benefits they offer and opportunities for right applicants so jobseekers will make their choice on the company they want to apply and work. That would meet the legal standard of reasonableness. When employers do the opposite-discourage job seekers from applying-then they are not complying with CNMI law or USCIS rules,” Pangelinan said.
The CNMI Labor Department has always had jurisdiction to enforce federal labor laws, Pangelinan pointed out. The department will enforce the CNMI reasonableness requirement just like it enforces the federal minimum wage laws and other federal labor laws.
“The department is reviewing ads for compliance with CNMI law and federal rules and will be providing ‘negative information’ to USCIS with respect to ads that do not meet reasonable standards,” Pangelinan said.
USCIS considers negative information in deciding whether to grant an application to employ an alien under the temporary permit system.
“In addition, of course,” Pangelinan said, “current CNMI law requires all employers who intend to employ aliens to advertise the job on the Labor Department’s website. Failure to do so will result in a citation and a fine if a Labor Department enforcement officer finds this violation. Once a hearing officer hears these cases, the order (as negative information) can be sent to USCIS as well.” (Labor)