20 CFR § 655.739 - What is the “recruitment of U.S. workers” obligation that applies to H-1B-dependent employers and willful violators, and how does it operate?

§ 655.739 What is the “recruitment of U.S. workers” obligation that applies to H-1B-dependent employers and willful violators, and how does it operate?

An employer that is subject to this additional attestation obligation (under the standards described in § 655.736) is required - prior to filing the LCA or any petition or request for extension of status supported by the LCA - to take good faith steps to recruit U. S. workers in the United States for the job(s) in the United States for which the H-1B nonimmigrant(s) is/are sought. The recruitment shall use procedures that meet industry-wide standards and offer compensation that is at least as great as the required wage to be paid to H-1B nonimmigrants pursuant to § 655.731(a) (i.e., the higher of the local prevailing wage or the employer's actual wage). The employer may use legitimate selection criteria relevant to the job that are normal or customary to the type of job involved, so long as such criteria are not applied in a discriminatory manner. This section provides guidance for the employer's compliance with the recruitment obligation.

(a)United States worker” (“U.S. worker”) is defined in § 655.715.

(b)Industry,” for purposes of this section, means the set of employers which primarily compete for the same types of workers as those who are the subjects of the H-1B petitions to be filed pursuant to the LCA. Thus, a hospital, university, or computer software development firm is to use the recruitment standards utilized by the health care, academic, or information technology industries, respectively, in hiring workers in the occupations in question. Similarly, a staffing firm, which places its workers at job sites of other employers, is to use the recruitment standards of the industry which primarily employs such workers (e.g., the health care industry, if the staffing firm is placing physical therapists (whether in hospitals, nursing homes, or private homes); the information technology industry, if the staffing firm is placing computer programmers, software engineers, or other such workers).

(c)Recruitment,” for purposes of this section, means the process by which an employer seeks to contact or to attract the attention of person(s) who may apply for employment, solicits applications from person(s) for employment, receives applications, and reviews and considers applications so as to present the appropriate candidates to the official(s) who make(s) the hiring decision(s) (i.e., pre-selection treatment of applications and applicants).

(d)Solicitation methods,” for purposes of this section, means the techniques by which an employer seeks to contact or to attract the attention of potential applicants for employment, and to solicit applications from person(s) for employment.

(1) Solicitation methods may be either external or internal to the employer's workforce (with internal solicitation to include current and former employees).

(2) Solicitation methods may be either active (where an employer takes positive, proactive steps to identify potential applicants and to get information about its job openings into the hands of such person(s)) or passive (where potential applicants find their way to an employer's job announcements).

(i) Active solicitation methods include direct communication to incumbent workers in the employer's operation and to workers previously employed in the employer's operation and elsewhere in the industry; providing training to incumbent workers in the employer's organization; contact and outreach through collective bargaining organizations, trade associations and professional associations; participation in job fairs (including at minority-serving institutions, community/junior colleges, and vocational/technical colleges); use of placement services of colleges, universities, community/junior colleges, and business/trade schools; use of public and/or private employment agencies, referral agencies, or recruitment agencies (“headhunters”).

(ii) Passive solicitation methods include advertising in general distribution publications, trade or professional journals, or special interest publications (e.g., student-oriented; targeted to underrepresented groups, including minorities, persons with disabilities, and residents of rural areas); America's Job Bank or other Internet sites advertising job vacancies; notices at the employer's worksite(s) and/or on the employer's Internet “home page.”

(e) How are “industry-wide standards for recruitment” to be identified? An employer is not required to utilize any particular number or type of recruitment methods, and may make a determination of the standards for the industry through methods such as trade organization surveys, studies by consultative groups, or reports/statements from trade organizations. An employer which makes such a determination should be prepared to demonstrate the industry-wide standards in the event of an enforcement action pursuant to subpart I of this part. An employer's recruitment shall be at a level and through methods and media which are normal, common or prevailing in the industry, including those strategies that have been shown to be successfully used by employers in the industry to recruit U.S. workers. An employer may not utilize only the lowest common denominator of recruitment methods used in the industry, or only methods which could reasonably be expected to be likely to yield few or no U.S. worker applicants, even if such unsuccessful recruitment methods are commonly used by employers in the industry. An employer's recruitment methods shall include, at a minimum, the following:

(1) Both internal and external recruitment (i.e., both within the employer's workforce (former as well as current workers) and among U.S. workers elsewhere in the economy); and

(2) At least some active recruitment, whether internal (e.g., training the employer's U.S. worker(s) for the position(s)) or external (e.g., use of recruitment agencies or college placement services).

(f) How are “legitimate selection criteria relevant to the job that are normal or customary to the type of job involved” to be identified? In conducting recruitment of U.S. workers (i.e., in soliciting applications and in pre-selection screening or considering of applicants), an employer shall apply selection criteria which satisfy all of the following three standards (i.e., paragraph (b) (1) through (3)). Under these standards, an employer would not apply spurious criteria that discriminate against U.S. worker applicants in favor of H-1B nonimmigrants. An employer that uses criteria which fail to meet these standards would be considered to have failed to conduct its recruitment of U.S. workers in good faith.

(1) Legitimate criteria, meaning criteria which are legally cognizable and not violative of any applicable laws (e.g., employer may not use age, sex, race or national origin as selection criteria);.

(2) Relevant to the job, meaning criteria which have a nexus to the job's duties and responsibilities; and

(3) Normal and customary to the type of job involved, meaning criteria which would be necessary or appropriate based on the practices and expectations of the industry, rather than on the preferences of the particular employer.

(g) What actions would constitute a prohibited “discriminatory manner” of recruitment? The employer shall not apply otherwise-legitimate screening criteria in a manner which would skew the recruitment process in favor of H-1B nonimmigrants. In other words, the employer's application of its screening criteria shall provide full and fair solicitation and consideration of U.S. applicants. The recruitment would be considered to be conducted in a discriminatory manner if the employer applied its screening criteria in a disparate manner (whether between H-1B and U.S. workers, or between jobs where H-1B nonimmigrants are involved and jobs where such workers are not involved). The employer would also be considered to be recruiting in a discriminatory manner if it used screening criteria that are prohibited by any applicable discrimination law (e.g., sex, race, age, national origin). The employer that conducts recruitment in a discriminatory manner would be considered to have failed to conduct its recruitment of U.S. workers in good faith.

(h) What constitute “good faith steps” in recruitment of U.S. workers? The employer shall perform its recruitment, as described in paragraphs (d) through (g) of this section, so as to offer fair opportunities for employment to U.S. workers, without skewing the recruitment process against U.S. workers or in favor of H-1B nonimmigrants. No specific regimen is required for solicitation methods seeking applicants or for pre-selection treatment screening applicants. The employer's recruitment process, including pre-selection treatment, must assure that U.S. workers are given a fair chance for consideration for a job, rather than being ignored or rejected through a process that serves the employer's preferences with respect to the make up of its workforce (e.g., the Department would look with disfavor on a practice of interviewing H-1B applicants but not U.S. applicants, or a practice of screening the applications of H-1B nonimmigrants differently from the applications of U.S. workers). The employer shall not exercise a preference for its incumbent nonimmigrant workers who do not yet have H-1B status (e.g., workers on student visas). The employer shall recruit in the United States, seeking U.S. worker(s), for the job(s) in the United States for which H-1B nonimmigrant(s) are or will be sought.

(i) What documentation is the employer required to make or maintain, concerning its recruitment of U.S. workers?

(1) The employer shall maintain documentation of the recruiting methods used, including the places and dates of the advertisements and postings or other recruitment methods used, the content of the advertisements and postings, and the compensation terms (if such are not included in the content of the advertisements and postings). The documentation may be in any form, including copies of advertisements or proofs from the publisher, the order or confirmation from the publisher, an electronic or printed copy of the Internet posting, or a memorandum to the file.

(2) The employer shall retain any documentation it has received or prepared concerning the treatment of applicants, such as copies of applications and/or related documents, test papers, rating forms, records regarding interviews, and records of job offers and applicants' responses. To comply with this requirement, the employer is not required to create any documentation it would not otherwise create.

(3) The documentation maintained by the employer shall be made available to the Administrator in the event of an enforcement action pursuant to subpart I of this part. The documentation shall be maintained for the period of time specified in § 655.760.

(4) The employer's public access file maintained in accordance with § 655.760 shall contain information summarizing the principal recruitment methods used and the time frame(s) in which such recruitment methods were used. This may be accomplished either through a memorandum or through copies of pertinent documents.

(j) In addition to conducting good faith recruitment of U.S. workers (as described in paragraphs (a) through (h) of this section), the employer is required to have offered the job to any U.S. worker who applies and is equally or better qualified for the job than the H-1B nonimmigrant (see 8 U.S.C. 1182(n)(1)(G)(i)(II)); this requirement is enforced by the Department of Justice (see 8 U.S.C. 1182(n)(5); 20 CFR 655.705(c)).

[65 FR 80231, Dec. 20, 2000]