Five Things Employers Need to Do When Considering Employment Sponsorship for Immigration Purposes

You’re excited about the new hire.  You’ve extended the job offer and just when you’re thinking about how much value this person will add to your organization, you get a call from the HR department: “There’s one thing the applicant forgot to tell you: he needs to get sponsored.” “Sponsored?”, you ask.  What’s an employer to do?

  • Find out what the applicant is referring to exactly.  Sponsorship can mean many things. At a very basic level it means that the applicant needs some assistance from the employer to work or remain in the U.S. either temporarily or permanently.  Within this context however there are many variations.
  • Determine whether your company has (or should have) a policy that addresses immigration sponsorship.  Given that sponsorship involves petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or both, some companies have policies addressing under what circumstances, if any, the company will sponsor a foreign national.
  • Ask the right questions.  You need to ask questions that will elicit the right type of information from the applicant to help you determine the applicant’s current immigration status, the limitations of that status, the length of time the company will be able to employ the applicant, how long the process will take, etc. Keep in mind that some applicants will put permanent sponsorship for a “green card” (lawful permanent residency) as a pre-condition to their employment.  
  • Get informed. Most likely the applicant is way ahead of the curve when it deals with the issue of sponsorship.  They’ve done their research, spoken with their peers, visited and participated in chat rooms, and many times have an idea on how to proceed.  Sometimes the applicants will represent something that may or may not be accurate because of fear of the employer revoking the employment offer or they themselves are confused or misinformed.   A good place to start is by visiting the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  You need to know the employer’s obligations if the company moves forward with the employment sponsorship.  
  • Consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Even after you’ve done your due diligence you may have more questions than answers. Things can get complicated pretty fast. This is where discussing the matter with an experienced immigration attorney will help you in the process.

How a 2013 Government Shutdown Might Affect Your Immigration Case

As happened only a couple of years ago, we are faced yet again in 2013 with the threat of a government shutdown. I am re-posting this article which was originally published in 2011 with some modifications.  Because the U.S. federal government may shut down, it’s important to know how your immigration case may be affected.
If you have a case pending before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) your adjustment or naturalization interview will most likely take place as scheduled.  The same would apply for naturalization ceremonies.  Because USCIS is funded primarily through application fees, it is expected that most of its services and centers will operate normally.  However, because USCIS works with other agencies to adjudicate pending cases, temporary delays should be expected.
If you have a removal or deportation case pending before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, most likely only detained cases will go on as scheduled.  Non-detained master or individual hearings would be rescheduled. Also, the front window of the immigration court would be closed and the immigration court phones would not be answered.
If you have a case pending before the National Visa Center, an agency within the U.S. Department of State, DOS would cease non-emergency visa services and non-US citizen services at U.S. Consular Posts abroad. As a result, no new visas are expected to be issued and visa application interviews would be rescheduled. Also, no passport applications will be accepted during a government shutdown.
If you have a case pending before the U.S. Department of Labor, their offices will be closed.  This will delay the processing of PERM cases, as well as the processing of Labor Condition Applications for non-immigrant visas such as H-1Bs, E-3s, etc.  Also affected would be requests for Prevailing Wage Determinations with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Hopefully the government will not shut down as feared and the processing of all immigration-related cases will not be affected.

Have We Lost Our Mojo? Revisiting Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR)

I think for the most part supporters of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) have lost their mojo. To understand what mojo is, and why it’s important, I encourage you to watch this short video on YouTube.  I’m not exactly sure what happened, or when, but at some point all mojo powers were zapped from community organizers, congressional leaders, common citizens, stakeholders, and yes – even from President Obama.
Do you remember when President Obama had major mojo when he ran for president and promised CIR? At some point leaders of the CIR movement found themselves outnumbered and outmaneuvered and they simply threw in the towel.  Before we knew it, proponents of CIR were sitting quietly on the sidelines while the national debate raged on.  Opponents of CIR in the meantime took over the high places in the marketplace of ideas. All of the sudden deporting all 15 million supposedly unlawful immigrants in the U.S. actually sounded like a great and feasible idea.  Our highly organized, effective, articulate, tech-savvy, champions of the cause that inspired thousands of people to take to the streets were left neutralized – mourning and lamenting what could have been.
It is time for our leaders to rise to the occasion and bring some clarity to the table by explaining why CIR is good for the United States, who will benefit, under what conditions, and what’s in it for our country, our communities, for the American worker – from Joe the Plumber to the investment banker in Wall Street.  We need to articulate what CIR will do to enhance:
  • Border security to stop the flow of undocumented people from crossing the border.
  • Providing tools to employers to ensure employment eligibility and sanction those employers who knowingly employ unauthorized workers.
  • Removal of serious criminal offenders and enforcement of immigration laws consistent with the government’s immigration enforcement priorities and resources.
These are legitimate concerns that we ignore at our own peril. They must be part of a sensible solution to reform our immigration laws.  So far the arguments from both sides have left much to be desired and have been plagued with missed opportunities to create a feasible road map where both sides can meet half way. On the one hand we have some calling for the immediate deportation of all “illegal aliens” and on the other side we have some calling for complete open borders with no restrictions.   I think both sides can meet somewhere in the middle.  I say we get back to the basics – let’s re initiate the conversation.  I think (for the most part) both sides have very reasonable concerns that are better addressed by sitting together to discuss these issues in an informed, honest, and constructive manner.
Regaining the territory lost will require some major mojo power – but I think it can be done. By being informed of the issues and understanding what’s at stake, proponents of CIR should have a well-reasoned and articulate defense of CIR when making their voices heard.

Naturalization Through Military Service

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for an expedited naturalization process for current or recently discharged members of the Army, NavyAir Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and certain components of the National Guard.
On July 3, 2002 President Bush signed Executive Order 13269 authorizing all noncitizens who have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces on or after Sept. 11, 2001 to immediately file for citizenship. This order also covers veterans of certain designated past wars and conflicts. This was done pursuant to Section 329 of the INA which covers periods of service during periods of hostilities. Section 328 of the INA covers periods of service during peacetime.   Under this section, members of the U.S. armed forces and those already discharged from service may qualify for naturalization if he or she has:
  • Served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for at least one year;
  • Obtained lawful permanent resident status; and
  • Filed an application while still in the service or within six months of separation.
Every military installation has a designated point-of-contact, generally in the personnel division or the Judge Advocate General’s Office, to assist members of the military prepare and file their naturalization application packet. Here’s where members of the military can go for additional help:
Members of the military seeking to naturalize must still meet some of the basic requirements.  For example, the applicant must be a person of good moral character, have a basic command of the English language, and must also have a basic knowledge of U.S. History and Government. An applicant for naturalization must also show that he or she is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and will be required to take the Oath of Allegiance. Members of the military however are exempt from other naturalization requirements, including residence and physical presence in the United States.
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