Employers who have hired nonimmigrant workers usually acts as sponsors for visas for the workers they employ. Not every employer wants to go through the process of hiring a foreign worker, and many employers prefer to employ foreign workers only if they already have work authorization independent of their employment. Applying for a visa for a nonimmigrant worker can be an expensive process for the employer, and can cause work disruptions when the time comes to renew the visa. Under new guidelines from the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), the process may get more expensive and time consuming for both the employer and the worker.
Before the changes announced in October, when a nonimmigrant worker needed a visa extension, the application for an extension was not reviewed with the same level of scrutiny as an initial application when there were no changed circumstances with the worker and his employment. However, under current guidelines, the adjudicator reviewing an application for an extension has the discretion to review the application as though it is a new application.
This means that the applicant has the burden of proving all the facts that make him eligible for a work visa, even though nothing has changed since the initial application. The additional requirements are expected to add time and expense to the extension process, which in turn is likely to discourage employers from hiring foreign workers. Visa renewals for foreign workers are usually up for renewal every three years; although in some cases visas may need to be renewed in one to two years. Under the new guidelines, employers and workers may need to go through the grueling renewal process annually or every three years.
This change follows other updates to policies increasing scrutiny on employers who hire workers, especially on the H-1B visa program. The H-1B visa program was originally supposed to allow employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers in fields where there was a shortage of American workers. The H-1B visa process has been criticized as awarding visas to non-qualified workers, and has been targeted for major revision and possible elimination by the current administration. There could be other changes coming to the H-1B visa program and other programs authorizing foreign workers to work in the country. One such change would eliminate a rule allowing spouse of H-1B visa recipients to work in the country under a H-4 dependent visa.
There are legitimate issues with how some employers hire nonimmigrant workers. However, the guidelines implemented by USCIS will probably cause difficulty for legitimate candidates in addition to those who are being hired fraudulently.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney
If you are currently working in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you need to review your status and the options you have to continue working legally in the United States. You should consult your own immigration attorney to explore your options if you are nearing the expirations of your visa. For more information, contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to experienced immigration attorney Nathan Wei from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California for a consultation.