Is It Time for an Immigration Reform in the US?
Immigration is an ongoing issue across the globe, especially in the US.
Speaking to Kate McCarroll, an immigration law expert, she touches on what companies need to consider if they are hiring foreign nationals and if there is need for reform in employment-based immigration law.
What are some considerations for corporations who wish to hire foreign nationals?
These days, the most important consideration for companies that employ foreign workers is to manage expectations. Processes take longer than they have in the past. The government agencies that adjudicate applications deny petitions and request evidence more often than they ever have. Patience is critical – for management, human resources, and foreign nationals. Having experienced immigration counsel to guide employers through this uncertainty is more important than ever.
Good faith can make a difference if/when fines are assessed.
Form I-9 is an important way for companies to ensure that they only employ individuals who are permitted to work in the United States. How do you assist corporations with I-9 compliance?
The I-9 looks like a simple form, but fines are imposed per error – not per form – which can certainly add up. The most important step for employers to take, other than to ensure that the I-9 is completed correctly at the time of hire, is to conduct an internal audit of every line of each of its I-9s. We are frequently asked to conduct audits on behalf of employers. We also field questions about how to complete particular fields on the form and whether an employee’s documents are acceptable. While tedious, addressing I-9 errors before a government audit can save thousands of dollars and shows an employer’s good faith. Good faith can make a difference if/when fines are assessed.
These backlogs create significant expense, and uncertainty, both for corporations and foreign employees.
As an immigration lawyer, is there a need for immigration reform on the employment-based side of your practice?
Our most recent comprehensive immigration reform was in 1996, and almost immediately, it was clear that there were unintended/unforeseen consequences of the bill. We are still waiting for most of those issues to be addressed. A lot changes in 23 years. The United States is facing very different immigration issues, in a very different global economy than existed in 1996, which only heightens the need for legislative action.
For example, more foreign students are enrolling at US universities. The most common type of work visa (H-1B) is numerically limited, with the number of visas available set in 1996. Each year, we are far short of the number of H-1Bs needed for foreign students to remain in the US to work, meaning they must depart, taking the education and skills they cultivated at University with them.
We also have experienced professionals, already employed by US companies, who have 10+ year waits for green cards simply because of their place of birth. Like H-1B visas, green cards are numerically limited each year, to a number set in 1996. For example, if an Indian professional were sponsored by her employer for a green card, the process could take 10-12 years. For an Italian with the same position, education and experience, the process would take 18-24 months. These backlogs create significant expense, and uncertainty, both for corporations and foreign employees.
These are just some examples of the need for immigration reform. Making legislative changes will ensure that the United States has the brightest and best, regardless of where in the world they are from, to continue to grow our economy and meet the needs of US employers.
Kate McCarroll helps lead Kerr Russell’s Immigration Law group. She has extensive experience in employment-related immigration law, including I-9 compliance and assisting corporations with government audits. Kate has also handled immigration matters involving family-based immigration and asylum proceedings, and has expertise in the specialized area of physician immigration.
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