Immigrants not taking our jobs
Saturday, May 31, 2008
After receiving a variety of responses to my last article on common immigration misconceptions, I have decided to present one more. This time I will focus on business-related immigration.
Misconception: Immigrants are taking American jobs.
Just to clarify, this is not addressing employers who hire someone who they know is not authorized to work in the first place.
A great deal could be written about this topic, so I will focus on one of the more popular types of temporary work visas, the H-1B. Temporary work visas come in all letters of the alphabet. Some allow for an application for residency after a certain number of years and others do not. Under an H-1B, one can usually work for up to six years and then an application for permanent residency is often an option. After five years as a permanent resident, one can apply for citizenship.
So, why don't immigrants take American jobs? Well, consider the following: Under an H-1B visa, an American employer, large or small, can sponsor a foreign worker. Depending on the type of job, that employee must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree or have several years of qualifying experience. Many times the employee has a master's degree or higher. Doctors, engineers, educators, researchers and other professionals typically use an H-1B visa.
The sponsorship process is costly and very lengthy. First, the employer usually finds a foreign worker that they want to employ. Second, to sponsor an employee, the employer must prove to the Department of Labor that they will pay the employee more than the typical wage for that specific job in that area or more than the actual wage for their other employees. Third, and importantly, they must certify that they are not hiring anyone as a replacement for an American worker, such as someone on strike. Fourth, after approval from the Department of Labor to hire a foreign worker, the employer must post the labor condition agreement from the Department of Labor at the job site or present it to the union, if one exists. Finally, if there are no objections, the employer can then attempt to sponsor the employee.
Wait! It does not stop there!
Congress currently only allows 65,000 H-1B visas per year and it is first come, first served. In fact, the first day an employer can apply for an H-1B visa each year is April 1 with the employee not being able to start until six months later. The past five years, the annual cap was reached on April 1. In fact, this year there were over 160,000 applications filed on that day for the 65,000 slots. If approved, these employees cannot start working until Aug. 1. Since so many applications are received, they are put into a lottery and "winners" are chosen. The losing employers get the message "try again next year."
This is just one of the many types of employment-based visas available and each type has differing requirements. However, the H-1B example paints a pretty clear picture that under our current immigration system, it is not easy for a company to legally hire a foreign worker.
The process is complicated, difficult, and costly and happens only when there are no workers in the United States to fill the post. The economic impetus to "steal" jobs from Americans just does not exist.
Michelle Richart is an attorney with Badmus Immigration Law Firm, with offices in Abilene. You can contact Michelle at MRichart@badmuslaw(dot)com.