Sunday, September 21, 2008

Immigration 101 - Questions

Immigration ebbs and flows as the hot topic and is a major component of my job. I have received a couple of questions about the topic and the work. My work focuses on LEGAL immigration, not ILLEGAL immigration. Here are a few of the questions that I have received.

Why do you bring people to do work that takes away jobs from US citizens?
That's a big question with a very long answer. I will try and condense it. The short answer is that the United States provides resources to bring the best and the brightest here to work. And I simply coordinate what the government allows us to do. We use primarily three types of visas to sponsor aliens.

J Visa is a temporary visa usually for two to three years. It comes with a two year residency requirement that at the end of the visa, the alien (yes that is the technical term) must return to his/her own country. The return residency can be waived but it is difficult to do and involves petitioning the alien's country, requesting a waiver. J Visas allow for international colleagues to work and learn, and is intended to return to his/her home country with a better understanding of the US. It is not intended to provide a pathway to citizenship in the US.

TN (NAFTA) is another temporary visa that allows Canadians (and Mexicans) to work in one year increments. We use this visa to cover sabbaticals. It is not intended to provide a pathway to citizenship.

H1b Visas are 'specialty' occupations. The sponsoring company/institution is required to test the labor market and prove that the hired alien is the best qualified candidate for the position. It is indeed a exercise in semantics. And the word 'specialty' has become diluted over the years. This is a dual-intent visa and can provide a pathway to an employment-based permanent residency.

With it so difficult to find jobs, why bring people here ?
Many of the people are already here, in school working on advanced degrees. Congress determines the number of H1b visas for each year. If you would like to know more, contact your congressional office for information on this topic, or the DHS here.

What do you enjoy about this topic?
Almost nothing. Working with the DHS is painstaking, in a very passive-aggressive way. We are allowed to hire aliens but the DHS/SSA make it so difficult to do so a times it is an exercise in futility. Add the DOL and it becomes a circus.

If this topic is interesting to you, take note the our government, through the Department of State conducts a diversity lottery each year to award Permanent Residency to countries lacking a strong representation here. Happy to answer more questions. Thanks for stopping by!

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