In 2017, American Sinopan LLC said it would build a garden-themed hotel in Tanapag and was vocal about its plans to bring the Hilton brand to Saipan. However, the construction project was plagued with CW and workforce issues and another labor woe struck early this week.
An online story on the website Law360 dated May 20 said that American Sinopan’s application to hire 620 H2-B workers to build its Saipan hotel had been denied by the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals.
BALCA is the appellate body that reviews appeals on Program Electronic Review Management denials. PERM issues denials if it finds the company does not meet the standards used in labor certification determination.
The Law360 article stated that American Sinopan had wanted to bring in 620 workers composed of 110 carpenters, 100 electricians, 90 masons, 80 painters, 64 structural iron and steel workers, 60 plumbers, 55 reinforcing iron and rebar workers, 30 construction supervisors, and 30 construction equipment operators.
These workers were supposed to work from April 15, 2019, to April 14, 2020, under the H-2B program, a U.S. immigration program for temporary/seasonal, non-agricultural employment by foreign nationals.
The story quoted Administrative Law Judge Steven B. Berlin as saying that, although American Sinopan nearly overcame some deficiencies, it left out crucial information about its business model, operations, and plan for the future after the resort is built.
This, according to the article, means the company did not prove that the need for the H2-B workers was temporary in nature.
“The central difficulty is that American Sinopan has not described itself adequately to make sense of its business model. …Very few corporations are formed for a short-term, temporary purpose; most people forming corporations intend that the corporation will be financially successful and continue its operations over the long term,” the law360 article quotes Berlin as saying in the decision.
He further stated that “for purposes of an H2-B application…it is a sham to convert an ongoing, permanent need for workers into a temporary need.”
According to the article, the judge expressed concern about American Sinopan’s role as a subsidiary in this undertaking, citing its “ambiguous” business model.
The article quotes Berlin as saying that this ambiguity makes it appear that ‘it is just one of the subsidiaries, each formed to do a limited construction project as a domestic corporation outside of China.”
“Without being able to understand what business American Sinopan is in, I cannot find that it would have only one-time need for the H-2B workers it is seeking,” he added.
American Sinopan LCC is a unit of Hong Kong-based First Sinopan International Ltd.
American Sinopan chief executive officer Ken Lin was not available for comment as he is off-island as of press time.
In an interview with Lin last August 2017, Lin projected construction will be done by 2020 and that operations will generate $14 million worth of hotel tax and $6 million worth of food and beverage tax, which amounts to $20 million that will go to the CNMI yearly.