In Pennsylvania and throughout the country, approximately 17 percent of the workforce is comprised of immigrants. Any worker, immigrant or not, typically encounters challenges when starting a new job. Immigrants, however, might struggle with certain employment immigration issues that non-immigrants don't usually have to worry about, such as language barriers. Many also have to endure a lengthy application process to gain entry to the United States to begin their new careers.
Many Pennsylvania businesses are owned by people who emigrated from other countries. Employment-based immigration allows thousands of foreign nationals to obtain visas that allow them to enter the United States for the purpose of living and working here. Many of them bring their dreams of owning their own business along with them as well.
There are various nonimmigrant visa programs here in the United States. A nonimmigrant visa authorizes a person from another country to temporarily stay in the U.S. for a particular purpose. Today’s post will be focused on one nonimmigrant visa program in particular: the O visa program.
Pennsylvania employers may not be required to file a new or amended petition for employees who are on an H-1B visa and who moved to another geographic location if the move occurred prior to April 9, 2015, but the new clarification of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is ambiguous on the topic. More clearly, it states that after August 19, before an employee on an H-1B visa who is moved to a new location can begin working, a new or amended petition must be filed for that employee.
Pennsylvania readers may be interested to learn that federal lawmakers from both parties are proposing immigration reform ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline for the renewal of the EB-5 program for immigrant investors. The EB-5 visa allows immigrants who invest at least $500,000 in a job-creating project in an area with high unemployment to obtain permanent residency. It also allows for the pooling of these investments into "regional centers," which can be used to fund larger projects.
In a case that could impact workers in Pennsylvania and across the United States, a federal court in New York has ruled that employees are not required to produce immigration documents when suing employers over wage and hour disputes. This is significant because employers will no longer be able to defend themselves by alleging a worker is an illegal immigrant.
Employers in Pennsylvania who have hired foreign employees through the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program could be affected by a recent decision by the Administrative Appeals Office. Although AAO decisions are generally limited to the case at hand, the AAO does issue rare decisions that set precedents for future cases. One such ruling was recently issued that will affect employers' ability to move H-1B workers.
Athletic competitions and events occur all over the world, and when they are held in the United States, foreign athletes must obtain P-1A visa classification prior to entering the country via Pennsylvania or another state. The athletes may be performing as individuals or with teams or groups at internationally-recognized performance levels. As with other types of visa classifications, the athletes have to meet certain criteria and complete the application process.
The government has issued a record number of H-1B visas for fiscal year 2016, according to figures released recently. The number of work permits that will be granted to foreign employees in the areas of science, engineering and computer programming will total 233,000. Pennsylvania businesses that rely on talent from around the world to work in highly technical fields will benefit from the increased number of visas available for foreign workers.
Foreign media representatives could qualify for I visas to work in Pennsylvania or other U.S. states. Individuals who generally qualify for these nonimmigrant visas are reporters, editors, film crew members and similar members of the media. However, they must meet certain eligibility requirements.