CSLB Application Denials and the Appeals Process

Let’s take a minute to discuss CSLB Application Denials and the Appeals Process.

application denialIt’s a boring subject I know, but it’s good information to have if you find yourself stuck in the AIU vortex.

If your application is denied by the Application Investigation Unit, Section 485 kicks in.

§ 485. Procedure upon denial

Upon denial of an application for a license under this chapter or Section 496, the board shall do either of the following:

  • (a) File and serve a statement of issues in accordance with Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
  • (b) Notify the applicant that the application is denied, stating (1) the reason for the denial, and (2) that the applicant has the right to a hearing under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code if written request for hearing is made within 60 days after service of the notice of denial. Unless written request for hearing is made within the 60-day period, the applicant’s right to a hearing is deemed waived. Service of the notice of denial may be made in the manner authorized for service of summons in civil actions, or by registered mail addressed to the applicant at the latest address filed by the applicant in writing with the board in his or her application or otherwise. Service by mail is complete on the date of mailing.

Added Stats 1972 ch 903 § 1. Amended Stats 1997 ch 758 §

The key here is that 60 day deadline to file your appeal request. I would suggest filing your appeal as soon as possible to get the appeal process started.

From here Section 487 applies and it outlines the Hearing process.

§ 487. Hearing; Time

If a hearing is requested by the applicant, the board shall conduct such hearing within 90 days from the date the hearing is requested unless the applicant shall request or agree in writing to a postponement or continuance of the hearing. Notwithstanding the above, the Office of Administrative Hearings may order, or on a showing of good cause, grant a request for, up to 45 additional days within which to conduct a hearing, except in cases involving alleged examination or licensing fraud, in which cases the period may be up to 180 days. In no case shall more than two such orders be made or requests be granted.

Added Stats 1972 ch 903 § 1. Amended Stats 1974 ch 1321 § 10; Stats 1986 ch 220 § 1, effective June 30, 1986.

The important part in this section is that the hearing shall be conducted within 90 days of the hearing being requested. Unless you, the applicant, request or agree to a continuance. I wouldn’t agree to a continuance because I wouldn’t want to give the board the ability to delay the process any further. If the OAH grants a request for extension, you’re stuck with it. The CSLB likes to say that the process can take 4-6 months, but I think this is a scare tactic. Section 487 suggests that a hearing could take place in as little as 3 months.

After a hearing request is submitted, Section 488 comes in to play.

§ 488. Hearing request

Except as otherwise provided by law, following a hearing requested by an applicant pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 485, the board may take any of the following actions:

  • (a) Grant the license effective upon completion of all licensing requirements by the applicant.
  • (b) Grant the license effective upon completion of all licensing requirements by the applicant, immediately revoke the license, stay the revocation, and impose probationary conditions on the license, which may include suspension.
  • (c) Deny the license.
  • (d) Take other action in relation to denying or granting the license as the board in its discretion may deem proper.

Added Stats 2000 ch 568 § 2 (AB 2888).

This one is interesting because of item (c). This suggests that the CSLB could deny the license… again. What’s curious is that it was a denial that led you down the appeal/hearing path in the first place.

So there you have it, some interesting facts about CSLB application denials and the appeals process.


  1. scott bryant says:

    I applied for my license last September and my application was quickly accepted. I passed both tests once scheduled and secured the requisite bond and insurance which have both been properly filed with the state. I was then informed that i was denied due to a previous felony charge that is completely unrelated to the trade. They indicate that I can appeal or wait and reapply in five years.

    I received what appears to be a standard denial letter which has the typical “application” number along with a “denial notification” number. They have also added a “Compliant HQ#” which has me confused. Is a Complaint number something that they issue internally as part of the denial process? I assume that the denial for a felony record is likely an uphill battle during the appeal process regardless of the felony charge.

    Thanks in advance for your insights.

    • Hello Scott,

      Sorry to hear that you’re going through the CSLB maze. Yes, the HQ number should be associated with the denial.

      Did the felony take place within the last 7 years or are you on probation currently? If so, that would explain the denial.

      If you choose to appeal (hire legal counsel) you could ask for a probationary license.

  2. As a consumer, how do you appeal a decision made by the CSLB. I just received a letter about a year after the case was open stating that due to current Civil Case they will be closing this case with no violation charges against contractor. The thing is that there is no civil case open at the time being and all my money is going into construction of my abandoned project and not legal fees. I have presented bullet proof evidence to the CSLB clearly showing the contractor was in clear violation of many laws.Please inform as how I should go forward with an appeal as this investigation is critical if I do open a civil case.

  3. Wtf? Denied for a HIS license for a felony I committed 11 years ago. Should I appeal or request a hearing?

    • Hello Zack,

      That is certainly past the length of time they like to see for a felony. Was the conviction directly related to construction? You don’t need to disclose that here, I’m just asking. You can request an appeal, but that process can be lengthy.

  4. Random 3 percent seeks license says:

    What can be done if an investigator is non-responsive? My application is one of those RANDOM 3% to be investigated. Both test were passed almost 2 months ago, and all documents requested by investigator were sent following the Acceptable Forms of Experience Documentation over a month and a half ago. We have emailed, faxed and left various messages (including messages via employees from the call center), and investigator has yet to reply.

    • You could contact the Registrar, David Fogt. His most recent position at the CSLB was the Enforcement Chief. Email me (or use my contact form) and I’ll give you his contact info.

  5. Mike Hollowell says:

    I’m extremely frustrated. I went to ASU and earned a bacholer degree in construction management. I was recruited on campus and worked for a large gebefamily al contractor in the southwest on various hospital projects that were typically over 50 million. As a project engineer and assistant project manager, I drafted contracts, reviewed sub contractor’s work, and facilitated owner meetings with design professionals. I worked in this capacity for nearly four years. I find it troubling that my application is going to be denied for lack of work experience. I was informed that my experience was not hands on and managing trades was not worthy of counting toward the work experience. Although they granted me 3 years experience for my construction management degree, they are penalizing me for pursuing a career in construction management. This seems arbitrary and capricious. I guess I should have skipped college and started swinging a hammer. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Any thoughts?

    • Hello Mike,

      My guess is that your work experience outline was not formatted properly, but we can’t unring that bell. Did they send your experience to an investigator and/or did you receive a denial letter? If so, you can appeal that decision. If you were “denied” in the license application review process then you don’t have the right to appeal.

      CM experience is generally put above all other experience, but you still need to have experience in the field as a journeyman or supervisor. If you included this text in your experience outline – “project engineer and assistant project manager, I drafted contracts, reviewed sub contractor’s work, and facilitated owner meetings with design professionals” it would raise a red flag. The law does state that you must have field experience to qualify.

      • Mike Hollowell says:

        Full disclosure, I am an active member of the CA State Bar.

        I worked for a general contractor that is currently ranked in the top 100 US contractors based on gross revenue. My entire 3 years with the company was spent onsite, in the field, building a $50 million/+ cancer treatment hospital and $85 million/+ luxury condominiums. This was included in my application and certified by the Director of Human Resources for my former company. In addition, I provided statutory declaration detailing my role as an onsite supervisor. Apparently, because my company didn’t self-perform any work, my time supervising subcontractors is not sufficient enough to sit for the examination.

        If I am denied during the application process, shouldn’t I still be able to challenge the determination that my work experience was insufficient to sit for the exam? Regardless of whether I was “denied” in the license application review process, doesn’t the CA Administrative Procedure Act provide me with a potential remedy? I would like to think that a denial by the agency is a final action subject to review under the APA. But I certainly could be wrong.

        Thank you for your time and feedback.


        • Hello Mike,

          I’m assuming you used your college degree to augment the time needed to apply.

          If you receive a letter from the cslb giving you the option to withdraw or provide another qualifier and you do neither, the app will be denied or go void. If you receive a “denial” letter, you’ll have an opportunity to appeal that decision. At which time (3-6 months) a hearing will be scheduled with an ALJ, where you can plead your case.

          Note, once you have a denied application in your file, every subsequent application you submit will raise that flag and you’ll have to prove your experience with documentation.

          • Mike Hollowell says:

            They finally accepted my certification of work experience. I sit for the exam in December. This process was very frustrating considering the individuals who review certification of work experience often lack any construction background or knowledge. Good luck to all the other applicants out there.

          • Congratulations on getting past this point. Good luck on the exams!

  6. I applied for my license, and was sent to the investigation unit for work experience, meam while they gave me a test date. I took my test and passed both law and trade. A month after it was sent to another investigation unit, and I was denied my licence because of lack of proof of work experience. I was signed off by a general contrator, sent in my schedule c’s etc. I appealed the decision back in April 2016, it was sent to the a.g.I just called the cslb a week ago and they said that they are backed logged 18 months to two years, mean while my business is on hold and I’m in limbo. What if anything can I do to speed up the process.

    • Hello Jason,

      Seems you got caught in the tail end of the CSLB’s illegal critical classification fiasco.

      I would suggest you contact your State Representative. http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ You can file a question/complaint through their website. Explain that you passed the exams, provided the documentation they requested, and that your livelihood is on hold while the CSLB is dragging their feet in an obscene backlog.

      Explain that you met the requirements under B&P Code Section 7065, which states:

      7065. Investigation, classification, and examinations
      (a) Under rules and regulations adopted by the board and approved
      by the director, the registrar shall investigate, classify, and qualify
      applicants for contractors’ licenses by written examination. This examination
      shall include questions designed to show that the applicant
      has the necessary degree of knowledge required by Section 7068 and
      shall include pertinent questions relating to the laws of this state and
      the contracting business and trade.

      It is possible for the CSLB to grant you a probationary license under B&P Code Sections 7073 and 7077.

      Don’t take no for an answer, just keep pressing!

  7. gill kelly says:

    My application was denied because of incomplete paper work.. I sent it in.. They received it.. I still haven’t heard back.. It’s been 4 months… What should I do

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