Federal law regulates immigration issues for Massachusetts employers. These laws impose requirements on all employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of employees. In addition, an employer who has federal contracts must use an Internet-based system known as E-Verify to determine its employees’ employment eligibility. This chapter includes an overview of these employment-related immigration practices and laws, including regulations concerning nonimmigrant visas, labor certification, and permanent residency.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) prohibits an employer from hiring or continuing to employ individuals with knowledge that they are unauthorized to work in the United States. To comply with the law, an employer must verify the identity and employment eligibility of all employees hired after November 6, 1986, including U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, by completing a document known as a Form I-9 for each employee. The employer may access the Form I-9 at:
The Form I-9 contains two sections.
An employer should require every employee to complete Section 1 of Form I-9 on the first day of paid work. When an employee presents his or her identification documents in accordance with Section 2 of Form I-9, the employer may not demand more or different documents than the employee presents if the employee’s documents are acceptable under the Form I-9 requirements. In addition, the employer must review and accept documents that reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the person presenting them.
If an employee does not possess the required documents when employment begins, the employer may accept receipts for replacement documents. The employee must then show its employer original replacement documents within 90 days of hire.
According to federal law, an employer must retain the Form I-9 for each employee for either:
whichever is later. Paper I-9 forms should be purged after the mandatory retention period (the longer of one year from date of termination or three years from date of hire) is over.
If an employer discovers that it does not have a Form I-9 on file for a specific employee, it should immediately request that the employee complete it and submit appropriate identifying documentation as required in Section 2 of the form. The employer should date the new form at the time of completion.
If an employer acquires a business through a corporate reorganization, merger, or sale of stock or assets, and retains its predecessor’s employees, it is not required to complete new Form I-9s for those employees. Instead, the successor employer may rely on the Form I-9s completed by the predecessor employer if it continues to employ the employees. However, the successor employer is responsible for any deficient or defective Form I-9s of the predecessor employer.
An employer may also choose to treat employees who work for the new entity as new hires, and require them to complete new Form I-9s. If an employer chooses to treat continuing employees as new hires, it should enter the effective date of the merger or acquisition as the date the employee began employment in Section 2 of the new form.
An employer is required to reverify employment eligibility upon the expiration of certain identifying documents of the employee. This requirement does not apply to the expiration of a passport, permanent resident card, driver’s license, or state-issued identification card. An employer may also reverify employment authorization, in lieu of completing a new Form I-9, when an employer rehires an employee within three years of the date that the Form I-9 was originally completed and the employee’s authorization documents have expired.
To track expiration dates of employee authorization documents, an employer may want to institute a reminder system that provides advanced notification.
Since May 21, 2009, the federal government requires federal contractors and subcontractors to use the E-Verify system. The rule requires federal contractors to agree, through language in their federal contracts, to use E-Verify to confirm that both:
The rule only affects federal contractors who are awarded a new contract containing the E-Verify clause after May 21, 2009.
Federal contractors may not use E-Verify to verify current employees until they are awarded a contract that includes the E-Verify clause.
An employee does not have to be a citizen to work in the United States. The following section is an overview of commonly used nonimmigrant visas.
B-1 classification applies to individuals who engage in temporary business activities that promote international trade, commerce, or investment. The B-1 visa allows an individual to come to the United States for a short period of time to complete one or more of the following actions:
A B-1 visitor is not authorized to perform productive work in the United States. She or he must maintain a foreign residence abroad to which she or he intends to return at the end of the authorized period of stay. The B-1 visitor should generally remain on a foreign employer’s payroll and should not receive compensation from a U.S. source, other than reimbursement for incidental expenses.
B-1 visitors are generally admitted for the period of time necessary to conduct specific business. In theory, a B-1 visitor may be admitted for a maximum of six months. However, in practice, immigration officers typically admit business visitors for no more than 30 to 90 days. Individuals may apply to extend a period of stay for up to six months. However, prolonged business visits may raise the presumption that the B-1 visitor is engaged in productive employment. A B-1 visitor may also change to another nonimmigrant status. However, if an individual applies for change of status within 30 days of entry into the United States, the government may presume that the individual’s B-1 entry was fraudulent or made with the intention to immigrate.
E-1 treaty trader classification allows the visitor to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, so long as the trade is principally between the United States and the treaty country. For an applicant to qualify for E-1 status all of the following conditions must be met:
E-2 treaty investor classification applies to an individual who develops and directs the operations of a commercial enterprise in which she or he has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. To qualify for E-2 status, the investor must demonstrate all of the following:
F-1 classification allows an individual to come to the United States to pursue an academic program as a full-time student. An F-1 student is issued a Form I-20 by the sponsoring school and applies for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. An F-1 student may remain in the United States for the time period required to finish the educational program.
F-1 students may be entitled to work authorization. Enrolled F-1 students, as well recent graduates, may be eligible to engage in “practical training” in the relevant field of study. There are two common types of practical training:
Curricular practical training (CPT) is issued to students currently enrolled on a full-time basis at an approved educational institution to obtain work experience in a field of study. This type of work experience consists of alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by a sponsoring employer through a cooperative agreement with the school. The student usually receives academic credit for this training. The educational institution grants the CPT and the student’s Form I-20 is endorsed with the dates the student is eligible to work, as well as the number of hours per week. A student with CPT status must present an original Form I-20 to an intended employer before employment may lawfully commence.
Optional practical training (OPT) is granted to students who wish to work in a field of study but are not going to work as part of an academic program. OPT is granted for a maximum of 12 months throughout the student’s academic career. For OPT eligibility, the student must submit an application to the federal government for an employment authorization document (EAD). The OPT employment may not commence until the student receives the EAD card.
The H-1B program applies to employers seeking to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers in specialty occupations or as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability. The H-1B visa classification permits a foreign national to work in the United States for a temporary period in a “specialty occupation.” A person may hold H1B status for a maximum of six years, and it may be issued in increments of up to three years by the USCIS. An employee may receive extensions of H1B status beyond six years in certain circumstances if the individual is in the process of applying for employment-based permanent residence. A specialty occupation is one that requires:
There are numerous occupations that potentially qualify as specialty occupations. The employer must prove – through objective evidence – that the job offered falls within the statutory and regulatory definitions set forth. Typical occupations qualifying for H1B visa status include professions, which are defined by INA §101(a)(32) to include architects, engineers, lawyers, physicians, surgeons and teachers in elementary or secondary schools, colleges, academies or seminaries. H-1B visas are employer and job specific.
H1B visas are numerically limited, with a total of 85,000 visas available each fiscal year (20,000 of these visas are restricted to individuals who have received master’s degrees or higher from U.S colleges or universities). This limitation is referred to as the H1B cap. When the demand for high-skilled workers exceeds the annual cap for H-1B visas, USCIS then uses a random selection process to choose from the pool of applications received. This is often called the H-1B “lottery.” USCIS first conducts the lottery for the 20,000 individuals who hold a U.S. master’s degree or higher; those individuals who are not selected are put back into the pool for the 65,000. This means that individuals that enter the lottery with a U.S. master’s degree or higher have two chances to be selected at the H-1B annual lottery.
The H-1B1 (Chile and Singapore) program allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers from Chile and Singapore in the United States on a nonimmigrant basis in specialty occupations. Current laws limit the annual number of qualifying foreign workers who may be issued an H-1B1 visa to 6,800 with 1,400 from Chile and 5,400 from Singapore.
Before the employer can file a petition with USCIS, the employer must attest on a labor condition application (LCA), certified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), that employment of the H-1B worker will not adversely affect the working conditions and wages of similarly employed U.S. workers. Before filing the LCA with DOL, the employer must provide notice to U.S. workers that an LCA is being filed through electronic or physical postings for 10 days at the intended worksite(s). This gives U.S. workers notice that the employer intends to hire an H-1B worker and serves as an additional measure to protect current U.S. employees. This requirement, which is commonly referred to as the “notice or posting” requirement, informs U.S. workers of the terms of the employment of H-1B workers as specified on the LCA. It also informs U.S. workers of their right to examine certain documents and their ability to file complaints if they believe that violations have occurred. Affected workers are those at the same place of employment and in the same occupational classification in which the H-1B workers will be or are employed. Affected workers need not be employed by the H-1B petitioner to qualify as such: The H-1B petitioner’s notification responsibilities extend to all affected employees, regardless of whether they are employed by the H-1B petitioner or by a third-party company.
Employers must submit an LCA to the DOL electronically through the FLAG system attesting to compliance with the requirements of H-1B or H-1B1. FLAG is a cloud-based portal designed to replace the Office of the Foreign Labor Certification’s (OFLC) previous iCERT System and serves as the new application filing and case management solution for all foreign labor certification programs, including LCA, CW-1, H-2A, H-2B, PERM applications and their Prevailing Wage. Employers are able to prepare H-1B and H-1B1 using the Form ETA-9035E, Labor Condition Application for Nonimmigrant Workers in the FLAG system.
LCAs must not be submitted more than six months before the beginning date of the period of employment. The two exceptions to electronic filing are employers with physical disabilities or those who lack Internet access and cannot electronically file the Form ETA-9035E. An employer must petition the administrator of OFLC for prior special permission to file an LCA by mail on the Form ETA-9035. After the employer’s H-1B petition is approved by USCIS, the individual worker can obtain an H-1B visa stamp by appointment at the U.S. consulate or embassy in his or her native country. If the individual is already in the United States, a change of status to H-1B is possible; and if the individual is already in H-1B status, he or she can begin working for a new H-1B employer as soon as the new employer’s petition is filed without having to wait for an approval.
H-1B visa requirements:
The spouse and minor child/ren of an H1-B employee are authorized to live in the United States in H-4 status, and to study, but are not permitted to work.
The LCA verification process requires the employer to certify that the:
The employer must also document its compliance with the LCA verifications by retaining relevant documents and by making available a Public Access File ((PAF), and also called a “public examination file” is a file that needs to be maintained by any U. S. employer hiring people in H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 temporary nonimmigrant worker statuses. It is intended to include more background information related to the attestations made on the Labor Condition Application used for the Form I-129 and/or visa application that was used to acquire the nonimmigrant worker status. The file may be requested by any member of the public through telephone or email inquiries. Any member of the public requesting access to the documents must be allowed to capture the information through such means as transcription, scanning or taking photographs.
H-1B status is initially granted for no more than three years. Extensions are available, but the employee is subject to a maximum cumulative period of six years of H-1B status. H-1B extensions beyond the six-year limit are possible if the individual is the beneficiary of an employment-based permanent residence process that has been pending for more than one year or is the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and is unable to adjust status to permanent residence because of per-country limits.
The employer will be liable for the reasonable costs of the foreign national's return transportation if the employer terminates the foreign national before the end of the foreign national's period of authorized stay. The employer is not responsible for the costs of foreign national's return transportation if foreign national voluntarily resigns the position.
Currently, to qualify for an H-1B visa, a company must be willing to pay a qualifying worker a minimum salary of $60,000 annually.
In October 2020, DHS issued the Strengthening of the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program Interim Final Rule revising the definition of "Specialty Occupation" and the DOL issued the Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States Interim Final Rule, amending the regulations governing permanent labor certifications and LCAs to incorporate changes to the computation of prevailing wage levels. On December 1, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated this rule. On January 8, 2021, USCIS published a final rule entitled Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions that dramatically altered the way in which H-1B registrations were selected for the annual H-1B statutory cap, as established by Congress. The rule replaced the previous random selection process with a new wage-based selection process that prioritized the selection of H-1B registrations based on employers who pay the highest wages. This final rule was withdrawn on December 22, 2021, because the rule was vacated by a federal district court.
H-2A classification is a means for agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the United States to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. The employer must test the labor market by filing a temporary labor certification application with the DOL certifying that there are no able, willing, qualified, and available workers in the United States, and that the employment of foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the United States.
H-2B classification applies to foreign workers who temporarily come to the United States to perform nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peak-load or intermittent basis. H-2B classification requires the employer to test the labor market by filing a temporary labor certification application with the DOL.
The DOL either:
Currently, a 66,000 cap exists on the number of foreign workers who may receive initial H-2B status during each fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). Returning H-2B workers are exempt from this cap limitation, however, employers still must file an H-2B application with the DOL for returning workers. The spouse and children of an H-2B worker (known as H-4 nonimmigrants) also are not counted against the cap.
H-3 classification is reserved for foreign nationals entering the United States to receive training with a domestic company. To be classified as an H-3 trainee, the sponsoring employer must submit a petition and training program that includes:
J-1 classification applies to individuals who participate in a recognized international exchange program according to the provisions of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act. The purpose of this law is to increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges. There are a variety of educational and cultural exchange programs to facilitate J-1 sponsorship.
The U.S. Department of State designates public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors. Designated sponsors facilitate the entry of foreign nationals into the United States as exchange visitors to complete the objectives of one of the following exchange visitor program positions:
At the conclusion of the program, a J-1 exchange visitor is expected to return to her or his home country to use the experience and skills acquired in the United States.
Certain J-1 exchange visitors may be subject to a two-year foreign residency requirement at the end of the period of stay. The two year foreign residency requirement may apply to J-1 exchange visitors who participate in programs that were financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the U.S. government or by the exchange visitor’s government. It may also apply to individuals who are nationals or residents of a country that has been designated by the Department of State as requiring the skills of the exchange visitor. A J-1 exchange visitor who is subject to the foreign residency requirement must return to his or her country of nationality or last residence after completing the program in the United States and must reside there physically for two years before he or she may become eligible to apply for an immigrant or temporary worker visa.
A J-1 exchange visitor who is subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement must apply for a waiver of that requirement if she or he seeks to remain in the United States beyond the end date of the program or desires a change in visa status. The exchange visitor must assert one of the following claims to obtain a waiver:
The L-1A and L-1B visas are designed to facilitate the temporary transfer of managerial, executive and specialized knowledge personnel from foreign entities to related U.S. entities. L-1A status is for managers and executives and L-1B status is for persons with specialized knowledge of company methods, products, procedures, operations and the like. The L-1 beneficiary need not perform the same type of work in the U.S. as he or she performed abroad, so an alien for example who had specialized knowledge abroad could enter the U.S. as a manager or executive. To qualify for L-1 status, the employee must have worked for the company abroad in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge position for at least one full year of full-time employment during the three years prior to the transfer to a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge position with the related U.S. entity. First-line supervisors are not eligible for L-1A status as managers unless the persons they supervise are professionals.
The U.S. employer must file a petition for L-1 status with the regional USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the location where the individual will work. Canadian transferees may submit the petition at the U.S.-Canada border for immediate adjudication. Once the employer’s petition is approved, the individual may obtain an L-1 visa stamp from the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad or if already in the United States, may commence the L-1 employment. There is no prevailing wage or LCA requirement for L-1s; consular offices should only determine whether the L-1 applicant meets FLSA wage requirements or would be a public charge.
L-1 status is initially granted for three years, and extensions are available for two-year periods. L-1A managers/executives are entitled to up to seven years of L-1 employment in the United States and L-1B specialized knowledge personnel are eligible for a maximum of five years of authorized stay. There are also L-1 visa holders who visit the United States intermittently for brief periods to direct company operations or carry out some essential short-term duty. Such persons, who work only part-time or commute from abroad, may effectively extend their L-1 status indefinitely, provided that their U.S. employment continues to be consistent with the requirements for L managers, executives or specialized-knowledge workers. Generically, those who qualify are known as 'intermittent L-1s. Employment in the United States must be intermittent, not the employment abroad. Significant amounts of time outside the United States working for the same employer arguably amounts to intermittent employment in the United States, regardless of whether that time amounts to 183 or more days per year. However, extended employment in the United States or a declaration of U.S. residency for tax purposes – even if within the longer-term context of permanent assignment abroad – may trigger a rebuttable presumption of abandonment of intermittent status.
Dependents of L-1 transferees obtain L-2 status. Unlike most temporary visa categories that do not allow dependents to work, L-2 spouses may obtain employment authorization.
Some multinational companies may qualify for “blanket” L-1 status. Typically, this is available for entities that transfer more than 10 people per year, have annual sales in excess of $25 million or have more than 1,000 U.S. employees. Nonprofit organizations cannot file blanket petitions. Blanket L-1 status allows the U.S. entity to bypass the USCIS petition process in individual cases. Instead, the U.S. entity sends a special form to the transferee, who then applies for L-1 status directly at the U.S. consulate or embassy.
The employer must first obtain approval of the blanket petition from one of USCIS’s service centers. The blanket petition is approved initially for a period of three years but may be extended indefinitely after that. Generally, employers should refile and update their blanket petitions after the parent company completes and acquisitions of other companies, so the new blanket petition accurately reflects the parent company’s subsidiaries and affiliates. Blanket L petitions may not be used for L-1B specialized knowledge petitioners where the applicant is not a professional.
O-1 classification applies to foreign individuals who have extraordinary ability in science, art, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry. “Extraordinary ability” generally means that the individual is at the top of his or her field of endeavor. In other words, the individual has an above-average degree of skill and recognition and is generally recognized as outstanding, leading, or well-known in his or her profession.
The O-2 nonimmigrant category applies to an individual who comes to the United States solely to accompany or assist an O-1 performer or athlete.
The O-3 nonimmigrant classification includes the spouse or children of an O-1 or O-2 nonimmigrant.
To qualify for O-1 classification, (and to support classification of O-2 and O-3 accompanying individuals), the O-1 individual must come to the United States to work in his or her area of ability or achievement. The government may admit an O-1 non-immigrant even if his or her work in the United States does not require extraordinary ability or achievement. An individual who submits an O-1 and O-2 petition must support it with written advisory opinions from a peer group, labor organization, or management organization.
P-1 classification applies to either:
P-2 classification applies to an artist or entertainer who comes to the United States to perform for an organization that has an agreement of reciprocity with foreign organization.
P-3 classification applies to an artist or entertainer whose performance, teaching or coaching is integral to the performance of a group that performs a culturally unique program.
P-4 classification applies to dependents of P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa holders.
The government generally approves P visas for a sufficient amount of time to complete the event or competition described in the petition, not to exceed one year.
The temporary religious worker classification is divided into three categories:
Any bona fide, nonprofit, religious organization in the United States may file a petition for a religious worker. Also, a foreign worker may request admission to the United States as a temporary religious worker. To qualify as a petitioner, a religious organization must have (or be eligible for) tax-exempt status as a non-profit religious organization. To qualify as an R-1 beneficiary, a foreign worker must have been be a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide, nonprofit, religious organization in the United States for two years immediately preceding the application.
A religious worker may be admitted temporarily to the United States for at least one of the following reasons:
The government will approve an initial period of stay for an R-1 individual and his or her dependents for the requested period, not to exceed three years. An extension of stay may be granted for an additional two years, not to exceed a total maximum stay of five years.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) creates special economic and trade relationships between the United States, Canada and Mexico. The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the United States. Permanent residents (that is, individuals with lawful immigrant status but who are not citizens) are not eligible to apply for TN classification.
A professional of Canada or Mexico may work in the United States if all of the following qualifications are met:
The government may admit TN professionals into the United States or grant an extension of stay for up to three years.
The Visa waiver program (VWP) enables nationals of certain countries to stay in the United States for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. VWP eligible travelers have the option of applying for a visa. Not all countries participate in this program, and not all travelers from VWP countries are eligible to use the program. The government screens VWP travelers before admission into the United States, and they are enrolled in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program.
The following countries currently participate in the VWP: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungry, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
A citizen of one of these countries may travel without a visa under the VWP if she or he meets all of the following requirements:
A permanent labor certification issued by the DOL allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States. In most instances, before the employer may submit an immigration petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the employer must obtain an approved labor certification request from the DOL. The DOL must certify to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that there are no able, willing, qualified and available workers in the United States to accept the job at the prevailing wage for that occupation. The DOL must also certify that employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the United States.
The qualifying criteria for permanent labor certification include:
In addition, the employer shall document that the job opportunity has been described without unduly restrictive job requirements, unless adequately documented as arising from business necessity.
In 1990, Congress created a priority system for granting permanent residence status to foreign workers based on employment skills. The government grants immigrant visas to foreign workers who qualify under the following five employment-based (EB) preference categories.
If the employer is a private company rather than a university or educational institution, the department, division, or institute of the private employer must employ at least three persons full-time in research activities and have achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.Evidence that the professor or researcher is recognized as outstanding in the academic field must include documentation of at least two of the following achievements:
EB-2 classification includes foreign individuals who are:
A petition for a foreign professional holding an advanced degree may be filed when the job requires an advanced degree (beyond the baccalaureate), and the foreign individual possesses such a degree or the equivalent. The petition must include documentation, such as an official academic record showing that the individual has a U.S. advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree or an official academic record showing that the individual has both:
Qualified foreign physicians who will be practicing medicine in an area of the United States certified by the Department of Health and Human Services as underserved may also qualify for this classification.
EB-3 classification is reserved for:
Skilled worker positions are not seasonal or temporary and require at least two years of experience or training. The training requirement may be met through relevant post-secondary education.
Due to the long backlog, a petitioner may expect to wait many years before being granted a visa under this category.
To qualify as an EB-4 special immigrant worker, an individual must work in one of the following professions:
Generally, the employer must file a petition to obtain this status for an employee. However, under some circumstances, an individual may self-petition on his or her own behalf.
The employment-based fifth preference category is reserved for immigrants seeking to enter the United States to engage in a commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and create at least 10 full-time jobs. Of the approximate 10,000 visas available for this preference each year, 5,000 visas have been historically set aside for entrepreneurs who immigrated through a regional center pilot program. Foreign nationals who qualify in the EB-5 preference category do not require a PERM labor certification as part of their immigrant visa application.
Instead, EB-5 investors must comply with other eligibility requirements. Previously, after a federal court vacated regulations which increased investment requirements, the investment amount required for EB-5 investors was $1,000,000, although that amount could be lowered to $500,000 if the investment was made in a targeted employment area.
However, on March 15, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, which authorizes a restructuring of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program through September 30, 2027. Under the new law, investors will be required to invest a minimum of $1,050,000, or $800,000 if the investment is made in a targeted employment area or infrastructure project. The new law also provides that 20% of the annual EB-5 visas will go to those seeking to invest in targeted rural areas, 10% for those seeking to invest in targeted high employment areas, and 2% for investors in infrastructure projects. Competent Immigration counsel should be contacted if seeking authorization in this category.
The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for the immigration of foreigners to the United States based on relationship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Family-based immigration falls under two basic categories: unlimited and limited.
To become a lawful permanent resident based on a relative’s status as a citizen or permanent resident, the relative in the United States must sponsor the individual and prove that he or she has enough income or assets to support the individual when in the United States.
The relative sponsor and the immigrant must successfully complete two steps in the immigration process:
Once this is complete, the immigrant will apply for the immigrant visa as explained below.
Compliance with immigration laws requires an employer to carefully complete paperwork, and retain documents in an organized manner. When an employer considers hiring an employee who is subject to a visa, the employer should allow sufficient advance time to determine whether the employee qualifies for the visa, and to submit an application. An employer also should seek legal counsel if it has any questions or concerns about the immigration status of its employees.