Interviewer: What about work programs?
Jeanne Morales: An employer can sponsor someone for a work permit or an employer can sponsor someone for permanent residence. That’s a very large portion of immigration and it’s very complex. Regular immigration involves the Department of Homeland Security and US Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS). You have two federal departments that you’re dealing with. Sometimes regular immigration may involve the state department. Employers who put in for people also have to deal with the Department of Labor, so that adds one more federal agency and it ups the complexity significantly.
When a family member is initially sponsoring someone for a green card, it can take at a minimum six months. During the interim, while it’s pending, we always submit a request for a work permit as part of our package. A work permit will happen sooner. They can get the work permit and start working legally while the rest of their package for the initial green card is pending. Once you get a green card, once you adjust your status to that of a permanent resident, you no longer require a work permit to work. Your green card gives you permission to work.
Interviewer: Wow. What kind of jobs are these? Are these specific kinds of jobs or can any employer sponsor anyone?
Jeanne Morales: An employer who sponsors someone for a work permit has to show a couple things. 1) They have to show why they need to hire foreign labor. They have to show why the position can’t be filled by a US citizen or a permanent resident that is legally in the country. That’s where the process starts. Once they’ve proven that there are not enough Americans to fill this position, they are then allowed to seek foreign workers. In the United States, there’s always a shortage of nurses so there are a lot of large hospitals that will just say, “We advertise, and advertise, and advertise and we are still short of nurses. Let us bring some in from a foreign country.”Engineers fall into that category a lot too. Theoretically, any employer could do it. Getting over that hump of proving there’s not enough US citizens qualified to do this work is usually stops where the process stops. If you advertise, there are usually US citizens or legal permanent residents that can fill that job.