To continue my story about trying to file my client's PERM labor certification case through the DOL's online system despite having been notified that the all-important employer's PIN number had been disabled for some inexplicable reason, I spent almost all of Christmas day redoing the online application with a different case number while, with my paralegal associate's invaluable help, for which I am extremely grateful, starting to prepare a hardcopy paper version as a backup.

These efforts took well into the evening of Christmas day. No time for eggnog this year! Why did it take all day to redo a 12-page online application which I had already previously filled out with a different online case number, much of which only involved checking "yes/no" boxes?

One reason is that the PERM process is notoriously unforgiving. Once the application is submitted, it is not possible to correct any mistakes or to provide any new evidence that the employer has in fact followed all of the complicated and expensive procedures for testing the US job market for the offered green card job, or that the sponsored immigrant (or "alien", as our immigration law still calls immigrants today, using the bigoted and pejorative terminology of the infamous late 19th and early 20th century exclusion laws) is qualified for the offered labor certification position. Some labor certifications have even been denied because of harmless and obvious typographical errors in the PERM application, and the usual doctrine of fundamental fairness in deciding applications before administrative agencies does not get one very far in PERM cases.

Therefore, careful proof reading before submitting PERM applications, as well as minute, detailed consideration and re-consideration of the numerous legal technicalities that can make an ostensibly simple labor certification application into a minefield is of the essence.

But to make a long story just a little shorter, by the evening of Christmas day, not only had we made some progress in typing the backup hard copy, but I was ready once again to input the PIN number on the last page of the online ETA 9089 PERM application form and press "submit". At least, this way, I would find out with the PIN number had been disabled just for the particular case number, as the DOL's notice mentioned in Part 2 of my story indicated might be the case, or whether the PIN number had been disabled for my entire online PERM attorney's sub- account (and even more worrisome, possibly the employer's main account too).

Therefore, with a mixture of hope and trepidation, I inputted the PIN number and pressed the submit button once again.

Once again, I received the same bright red ink message as the first time, which was described in one of my two December 26th posts:

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

Well, at least this time I was psychologically prepared, and my little all-day experiment to see if the PIN disabling was only case number specific or if it extended to my entire attorney PERM sub-account (or horribile dictu, to the employer's entire main PERM filing account), had produced an answer - though not the one I was hoping for!

Shortly afterward on that same evening, I received an email from my client, the head of the employer company. Considerately, he had also spent some time that same evening setting up a new PERM sub-account for me, so that I could try to see if the same employer PIN number would work from another attorney sub-account.

Looking forward to that additional test of the DOL's system, which would mean spending at least part of the next day redoing the entire PERM application again with a new case number (the third one), I mentally made the wish "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night", and went to sleep.

I woke up early the next morning to see that Santa had apparently arrived, in the form of a somewhat cryptic 7:00 am email from the DOL help desk in Atlanta (where the PERM applications are processed). repeating all my login information for my attorney sub-account, including the same employer's PIN.

At first, I was not sure that this was the answer to my frantic Christmas eve emails that I was hoping for, since it did not say anything about actually reinstating the disabled PIN, but then I thought that, in its wisdom, the DOL probably does not send emails for no purpose at all, so possibly this might mean that the PIN had in fact been reinstated. Eagerly, but still with some trepidation, I went to the same sub-account I had been using, pulled up the ETA 9089 PERM form on my screen (which, fortunately the DOL's system automatically saves - let us give praise where praise is due), and I inputted the PIN number once again and pressed "submit".

This time, it went through! It worked! The case was successfully submitted! The best Christmas present I have ever had, and who cares if it was a day late? It was still in time to meet the filing deadline.

Yes, Atlanta, there is a Santa Claus. This concludes my PERM online filing Christmas story. A happy holiday season and a Happy New Year to all.

But before I leave this topic completely, I will also make a few comments about the connection between the PERM online filing process and another well-known holiday, the Jewish Passover, in my next post.
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 mainly focused on H-1B and O-1 professional and skilled worker visas, J-1 trainee visas, and green cards through labor certification (PERM), as well as 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