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H-1B Visa Holders Do Not Adversely Affect US Workers: Report

A recent report found that H-1B visa holders don’t negatively impact US workers. In fact, the report discovered that the presence of these visa holders helped boost employment in other occupations.

Avoiding Restrictions on H-1B Visas

The new report from the National Foundation for American Policy stated that the research that appears within should cause policymakers to reconsider further restricting the H-1B program. The main reason is that the report discloses that additional restrictions won’t help American employees.

In fact, evidence detailed in the report found that the presence of H-1B visa holders may actually help reduce unemployment rates and increase income growth among many individuals, including young people who recently graduated from college and are ready to enter the workforce. Additionally, the report revealed that US-born college graduates will have more opportunities to align their occupations with their degrees.

The study collected data spanning from 2005 to 2018 to determine precisely how a number of approved H-1B petitions to hire visa holders impacted the unemployment rate and income growth rate for their respective occupations. Ultimately, the report showed that as the number of workers with an H-1B visa in a specific occupation increased, the average unemployment rate saw a decrease in that occupation. The report specifically discovered that as the share of workers with an H-1B visa increased by one percentage point, the unemployment rate in that occupation decreased by around 0.2 percentage points.

Improving Employment for US-Born Workers

Many critics often claim that H-1B visas result in lower wages or earning growth, but the report contradicts those claims as it reveals how those visa holders don’t hurt the American job market and employment. With more approved initial or total petitions for H-1B visas in place, on average, there is a reduction in the unemployment rate within occupations corresponding to recent college graduates’ majors.

The report also detailed how the H-1B program is still small compared to the size of the college-graduate workforce in the US, accounting for a total of a maximum of two percent of US workers with higher education.

H-1B visa holders are mainly concentrated in computer-related jobs, but they only comprise a small number of workers in the information technology (IT) industry.

Contrary to what critics believe, the research concluded that the presence of workers on H-1B visas helped improve employment, productivity, and profitability for US businesses.

How is a National Interest Waiver Different For Physicians?

As the demand for more foreign-born physicians grows due to the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians may be able to acquire green cards through a national interest waiver (NIW). 

How an NIW Works for Physicians

The need for immigrant physicians is greater than ever, as the American Hospital Association and the American Organization for Nursing Leadership have both made clear through the request for reinforcements. Through a physician NIW, immigrant physicians can get a green card from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if they meet all criteria in place.

The second-preference employment category (EB-2) is what enables certain individuals of exceptional ability, including physicians who hold advanced degrees, to obtain permanent residence.

Typically, both a job offer and labor certification are required to obtain EB-2s. However, these requirements may be waived if petitioners can establish that granting the EB-2 petition will benefit the U.S.

The USCIS may grant an NIW if a physician agrees to work for a specific period of time within an area that’s currently underserved.

What Is Needed for an NIW?

There are some criteria in place to get an NIW. These requirements include:

  • Agreeing to work full-time in a legitimate clinical practice for five years, unless otherwise specified
  • Working in an area of primary care (e.g., family practice petitioner, pediatrician, general practitioner, psychiatrist, gynecologist, obstetrician, or a general internist), or working as a specialty physician
  • Serving in either a medically underserved area (MUA), Veterans Affairs facility, Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Mental Health Professional Area (MHPSA) as a psychiatrist, or in a Physician Scarcity Area (PSA) for qualified health care specialists
  • Obtaining a statement from either a state department or federal agency that is knowledgeable regarding the physicians’ qualifications, and which states via an attestation that the physician’s work is in the public’s best interests

To apply for a green card, physicians will need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

The Importance of Physicians

A growing number of health care workers are needed to help handle the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly now as states begin to reopen their cities in an effort to return to a state of normality. In the process, immigrant physicians may be able to effectively prove their necessity in the U.S. and more easily gain permanent residence with a national interest waiver.

Why H-1B Applications Get Denied

Filling out an application form

There are ten main reasons that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has given for its denial of H-1B applications for workers. These reasons could involve either employees or employers.

To avoid potential issues when applying for an H-1B work visa and keep the application process smooth, understanding what the petition will require can make sure that any problems are avoided from start to finish.

The Importance of Drafting a Good H-1B Petition

To draft a good H-1B petition, applicants need to have a good understanding of the industry, specific job requirements in place, and the various technical terms used in the position when describing certain tasks and duties. If an applicant fails to understand the job and what it entails, this could culminate in a weak petition even if the petition has the potential of being approved.

To help draft a better petition, keep in mind the following common reasons for denials following USCIS evaluation. Staying aware of all of the potential reasons for denials can assist with the petition drafting process. Even if all other requirements are met when drafting a petition, one weak area could result in a denial that leads to a lengthier process and the need to submit another petition.

1. Specialty Occupation

USCIS may deny an H-1B application if the petitioner failed to identify a position as a specialty occupation. Oftentimes, issues in this area occur with business or information technology positions in lesser-known occupations that USCIS doesn’t consider “Specialty Occupations” because of inadequate communication of job duties.

2. Beneficiary Qualifications

Applicants may fail to prove that a beneficiary is qualified to perform tasks and services in a specific specialty occupation.

3. Employee-Employer Relationship

Petitioners may neglect to establish that they had built a valued employer-employee relationship with the designated beneficiary by having the right to control the beneficiary’s work for the specific validity period requested.

4. Availability of Off-Site Work

The petitioner may have failed to establish that he or she has non-speculative and specific qualifying off-site assignments for the beneficiary, which would last for the duration of the validity period requested in the specialty occupation.

5. Availability of In-House Work

The petitioner may also fail to establish that they have specific and non-speculative assignments for in-house work for the duration of the validity period.

6. Maintenance of Status

Petitioners may also fail to establish that beneficiaries properly kept their status up-to-date.

7. Itinerary

Petitioners may not meet the specific itinerary requirement in place, which makes it necessary for petitioners to submit itineraries with petitions that require services to be performed in multiple locations. All itineraries are required to include the locations and dates of services to be provided.

8. AC21 and Six-Year Limit

Petitioners failed to establish that the beneficiary is eligible for AC21 benefits or could otherwise receive an H-1B extension as the visa reaches the six-year limit.

9. LCA Corresponds to Petition

The petitioners may not establish that they obtained a Labor Condition Application (LCA) that’s been properly certified, and they may also neglect to show that this LCA properly adheres to the requirements of the designated position and the petition’s specific terms.

10. Fees

Petitioners may not establish that they fully paid all fees pertaining to the H-1B.

Any of these reasons may be grounds for denial upon USCIS review, which makes it crucial to have a good petition in place.

Good petitions are now more important than ever as denial rates continue to increase. In fact, National Foundation for American Policy analyses of data around USCIS denials for H-1B employer petitions found that the denial rate saw a drastic increase to 32 percent from 6 percent from 2015. The analyses also discovered that the denial rate rose from 3 percent to 18 percent for individuals who are seeking extensions for H-1Bs. 

With such high denial rates, it’s important to draft a good petition that meets all of the USCIS requirements for approval. Creating a checklist including all of the necessary aspects can help make sure that every element is included in the final draft.

Getting Additional Help with Drafting H-1B Petitions

For more help with drafting a petition, working with an H-1B attorney can increase an applicant’s chances of success. With a high-quality H-1B petition that displays a comprehensive understanding of what the job entails, applicants can minimize the risk of denials.

Even if a business immigrant visa applicant takes the time to cover all of the necessary elements in a petition, there may be some aspects that they miss during the drafting process that could hinder their chances of approval. Having a professional with experience in these matters review the petition and ensure that it’s valid will help avoid denial.

Covid-19 Relief Fund Available to Immigrants

Corona fund shows in a smarphone screen

Earlier in April, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that a COVID-19 relief fund would be available to every individual in Chicago, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status.

The fund includes $1,000 housing grants that would assist with mortgage and rent payments, $100 million worth of small business loans and disaster relief funds, and online enrichment programs in place for students.

What the Order Means for Immigrants in Chicago

The Dean of the City Council’s Socialist Caucus, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), stated that while the mayor’s executive order doesn’t make any changes to city policy, it restates what is made clear in the city’s Welcoming City Ordinance.

Of the order, Ramirez-Rosa told the Chicago Sun-Times, “The federal government has excluded undocumented workers and small business owners from federal relief efforts. If we’re going to close the gap, we need to go beyond simply reiterating the city’s existing policy and create a dedicated local fund to provide support to everyone excluded from federal relief.”

To help provide more benefits for immigrants during these uncertain times, the City Council’s Hispanic Caucus sent the mayor a letter requesting the implementation of an “Immigrant Resiliency Fund.”

However, in the meantime, the order will ensure that the city’s coronavirus-related benefits are available to refugees and immigrants.

The federal government’s $2 trillion stimulus package doesn’t provide benefits for undocumented immigrants, and while many see the order as a step in the right direction for providing for undocumented immigrants, others like Ramirez-Rosa feel that there need to be more changes. 

Additional Attempts to Help Immigrants

President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, Sam Toia, has called immigrants “the backbone” of the restaurant industry.

Many business owners are worried about running out of money, but Toia has explained that help is available to those who apply. In early April, the treasury department requested an additional $200 billion in addition to the $300 billion that the government had announced to help businesses. Toia explained that business owners who successfully secure funding from the federal Payroll Protection Program will be able to use those funds to cover all employees, including undocumented workers.

While there are more steps that need to be in place to protect and provide for immigrants and their families in the long term, the mayor’s order and other efforts are working to help immigrants and refugees during these challenging times.

These Are the Four Types of Immigration Statuses in the US

US passport and flag

When immigrating to the US, there are four different immigration status categories that immigrants may fall into: citizens, residents, non-immigrants, and undocumented immigrants.

Citizens

A US citizen is either a person who was born in the US or became a naturalized citizen following a period of three or five years as a resident in the country. US citizens are unable to be deported with the exception of cases involving citizenship gained by fraudulent means.

Immigrants who gain citizenship will be able to work legally and receive public benefits for which they qualify. They can also help family members such as spouses, children, parents, or siblings become legal residents and citizens.

Conditional and Permanent Residents

Conditional residents are individuals who receive their green card prior to completing two years of marriage. Conditional residency also requires immigrants and their spouses to jointly file to remove the condition before two years pass after receiving the green card. Otherwise, the green card will expire and the resident could be deported.

Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) are immigrants who have obtained a green card and are authorized to live and work in the US permanently. LPRs receive permanent resident cards, or green cards, that prove their status.

It’s possible to become a permanent resident by having an employer or family member sponsor the green card applicant, or if the immigrant becomes a permanent resident via asylee or refugee status. Some individuals may also be able to file for themselves under certain circumstances, such as when a spouse is unable or unwilling to file for them.

Non-Immigrant Status

Individuals who are considered non-immigrants are legally living and working in the country on a temporary basis. Some examples of people with non-immigrant status could include students on an F-1 visa, fiancées on K-1 visas, tourists or business visitors on B1 or B2 visas, and others who are given temporary protected status.

Typically, individuals with non-immigrant status don’t intend to become residents. However, overstaying a visa, violating its terms, or obtaining a visa through fraudulent means could result in a change to undocumented status.

Undocumented

Undocumented immigrants are individuals who are in the country illegally or otherwise without permission, in which cases they would be unable to live in the US temporarily or permanently. They are also unable to legally work in the US and won’t have access to benefits accessible to residents such as driver’s licenses and health insurance.

Undocumented individuals face deportation at any time. Individuals will be considered undocumented if they overstay a temporary legal visa or enter the US illegally and neglect to go through a port of entry.

Understanding these statuses can help determine which steps to take to become legal citizens and avoid becoming undocumented or otherwise facing deportation.