Business Law 101 Tools

How To: Hire Immigrants

Application for immigrant visa

i17 Alexis-Steele-webAlexis Steele is a lawyer settled in Omaha who specializes in immigration law. She attended law school after obtaining an undergraduate degree at Yale University with a major in English. She now practices at Justice For Our Neighbors – Nebraska. This is a non-profit organization, that belongs to a network of Justice For Our Neighbors offices across the country.

Immigration is a fundamental issue for the United States. There are different procedures which rule the matter. How does one survive in this complicated field of immigration law? There are important adjustments that an entrepreneur and an immigrant have to keep in mind during the process.

We asked Steele several questions about immigration in the United states, and the following paragraphs summarize her answers.

Which are the common doubts that entrepreneurs ask about the recruitment process of immigrants to work in the United States?

The main concern is about how to make it happen. There is a lot of uncertainty inherent to the process to applying for an H-1B visa, the most common visa sought for long term workers, and it requires a large investment in terms of time and money from the employer. This causes hesitation from the employers due to limited resources.

Do immigrants ask for a visa because of their illegal status at the moment of the recruiting process?

Immigrants who seek work-based visas are most commonly students who studied in the U.S.  Foreign students do not have permission to work based on being a student in the United States alone.  When an employer wants to employ such a person or another skilled individual, the employer must petition for that person to receive a work visa, such as H-1B visa  to enable the prospective employee to participate in the American job market.  Logically, this usually takes place after recruitment.

If an employer needs to hire a legal immigrant, which are the procedures that must be followed?

There are different types of work-based visas available.

F1 visa: This visa is for students and it allows them to work with certain conditions. They can work on campus during their freshman year and later on they may apply to broaden their work opportunities. After the students graduate they also have an opportunity to obtain an OPT (Optional Practical Training).  This permission lasts at most for one year. The OPT is available only for F1 visa holders. After OPT, a student might hold an H-1B visa.

H-1B visa: This visa has a season-specific application process. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting applications for this visa the first working day of April.  It is very important to submit H-1B applications on or soon after this day, as there are only 85,000 H-1B visas available each year (65,000 general and 20,000 for people with master’s degrees).

USCIS normally receives more applications than visas available.  This year, USCIS received over 199,000 applications. When USCIS receives more applications than there are visas available, it selects at random from the applicants, evaluates those selected applications, and sends out approval decisions in October.

Timing is essential. For example, if your OPT expires in June of 2018, you would still have to file for your H-1B by the first working day of the preceding April (of 2018) because your OPT will expire before the next April, and hence the next chance to apply for the H-1B visa. It is the employers that file these applications, sponsoring the intended beneficiary worker.  These applications consist of forms that USCIS provides to collect information, such as the sponsored employee’s date of entry into the USA, the sponsored employee’s  status, and information about the employer and the employer’s workplace.

H2A visa: This visa is appropriate for temporary agricultural jobs.

H2B visa: This visa is appropriate for temporary non-agricultural jobs.

Are there special rules that apply to Nebraska that are not included in the Federal law system?

Immigration is ruled by Federal law, so there are no Nebraska-specific immigration laws.  Recently, however, the Nebraska legislature proposed Legislative Bill 165, which would have mandated that Nebraska employers use E-Verify.  E-Verify is a free federal online system for employers to cross check work authorization of employees and uses information from federal agencies for this search. This bill has not become law.  To clarify, this law would not have had any impact on immigration law, it simply would have governed how business is conducted in the state.

In Italy there exists the principle of the ius sanguinis, which means that the children automatically assume their parents citizenship if they are not Italians. In the United States exists the ius soli, this implicates that a child who is born on the American soil is automatically recognized as an American citizen. Which could be the possible scenario after Trump’s new immigration acts? What may happen if the parents are illegal immigrants and the children have American citizenship?

Everyone who is born here in the U.S. is automatically an American citizen. If parents are undocumented, this lack of status can affect the parents, of course. Anyone who is here without documentation is at risk of removal, also known as deportation. There are different ways that an undocumented individual might end up changing his or her situation, though.  Many of my clients are eligible for a U Visa, for example.  A U Visa is a type of discretionary status that the government sometimes grants to victims of certain crimes in the United States if the victim is helpful to law enforcement and suffered from the victimization.  It is also possible for someone with a qualifying American relative to benefit from a petition to gain lawful permanent residency. The means of changing status are very fact-specific and depend on the situation at hand.

To learn more about welcoming immigrants to our community visit Justice for Our Neighbors: Nebraska

THIS STORY WAS COMPILED BY STUDENTS FROM THE INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND MEDIA FROM MILAN, ITALY.


Vanessa Gloria Vanessa graduated in Business Law and she is attending a Master program in International Communication at IULM Milan. She is interested in Lobbying and Public Affairs. In future she would like to work as a lobbyist for the European Union.Vanessa Gloria
Vanessa graduated in Business Law and she is attending a Master program in International Communication at IULM Milan. She is interested in Lobbying and Public Affairs. In future she would like to work as a lobbyist for the European Union.


Elisa Conti Elisa graduated in Economics and Business Administration at Catholic University of Milan. She chose the MICRI Master because of the entrepreneurial history of her family and the great opportunities that the program offers.Elisa Conti
Elisa graduated in Economics and Business Administration at Catholic University of Milan. She chose the MICRI Master because of the entrepreneurial history of her family and the great opportunities that the program offers.

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