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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.
Most people who visit the United States do so after applying for and being granted a temporary or non-immigrant visa. Although these visitors enter the country legally, they may then sometimes overstay their visas, and remain in the country in violation of immigration laws.
When non-immigrant visas are granted, they usually have a set date on which they expire, and at that point the person travelling on the visa can no longer use the visa to enter the country. When a traveler uses the visa to travel to the United States, the traveler is required to leave on a set date, if the traveler fails to leave, he or she is said to overstay the visa.
Most people who overstay do so because they were not able to get their visas renewed because it meant leaving the country, they found employment or better opportunities, or because they face hardship by returning to their home country. Asylum applications are not always processed in a short period of time, and so for some people, it is easier to get a non-immigrant visa and then fail to return home at the expiration of the visa. Unfortunately, overstaying a visa is as illegal as crossing the border without a valid visa.
A person who overstays a visa can face some of the same consequences as a person who entered the country illegally. For example, if the person leaves the country, he or she can be banned from reentering the country for three to 10 years. The three-year ban applies if the person was in the country unlawfully for 180 days, but less than a year, before voluntarily leaving the country. If a person overstays a visa for more than a year before leaving voluntarily, then the 10-year ban applies if he or she tries to return. If a person overstays and gets deported, he or she becomes permanently ineligible for reentry.
In some cases, a person who has overstayed may be able to apply for an adjustment of status while in the United States. This is an option that is available to people who overstay their visas, but not to people who entered the country illegally without a visa. Most people applying for an adjustment of status do so because they marry an American citizen and wish to apply for a green card.
In most cases, a person who has overstayed a visa and later applies for a green card is required to leave the country to complete the process, but because of the reentry bans, most people would prefer to file for an adjustment of status and avoid leaving the country. To find out if an adjustment of status is possible in your case, you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney.
Let Us Help You
If you were granted a non-immigrant visa to travel to the United States as a student, tourist, or an employee, and overstayed beyond the time allowed, you may be limited in your options to legalize your status. For more information on how an experienced immigration attorney can assist you, contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to an experienced immigration attorney from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California.