Obscure Visas Facilitate Arrival of More Workers

Published on May 13th, 2014

Americans’ Struggle to Find Jobs Continues

Last month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it received more than 170,000 petitions for H-1B visas. Most arrived within a few days after the April 1 filing period opened. With the H-1B visa cap set at 65,000 that should mean that about 105,000 prospective overseas workers will be turned away.

In reality, only the least creative, most uninformed would-be U.S. workers should worry if they aren’t among the lucky ones chosen through the computer-generated, random selection process for the coveted H-1B. A multitude of visa options exist for denied H-1B hopefuls, some of them without a cap. This is especially true for nationals from specific countries. Although most of these visas are unknown to the public, immigration lawyers are savvy to them.

The no-cap TN visa, for example, is available to Canadian (TN-1) and Mexican (TN-2) professionals if they qualify under one of the very long list of designated work categories. Applicants must have a firm job offer, although whether the employer has actively looked for American workers is rarely examined.

Nationals from Chile and Singapore can access the specifically designed H-1B1 visa program. Up to 6,800 visas (1,400 visas for Chile, and 5,400 for Singapore) are available annually.

For other than Canadians, Mexicans, Chileans and Singaporeans, there’s always the readily available, cap-free O visa for foreign nationals with so-called extraordinary ability. USCIS defines “extraordinary ability” so loosely that it’s hard to imagine who might be turned away. Included are people in arts, sciences, education, business, athletics, motion pictures and television. Not only do the individuals get free passes to the United States, so do their entourages, spouses and children who will receive O-1, O-1A, O-1B, O-2 or O-3 visas. That’s enough visas for everybody in the village!

Here are two O visa recipients that the U.S could do just fine without: Shera Bechard, Playboy Playmate and former Hugh Hefner girlfriend, and the infamous Justin Bieber.

Remember that TN, H-1B1 and O visas are temporary visas. Holders are expected to go home when their time expires. But many overstay. In the meantime, some over-stayers do jobs unemployed Americans could do. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 6.2 million Americans are neither working nor, because of the weak market, looking for employment.

Even though the U.S. issued more than 9 million visas in 2013, Congress shows little interest in exit technology. The 2013 government shut down forced the cancellation of an October 1 House Judiciary Committee meeting to discuss biometric exit legislation. No future date has been set.

For the United States to be a welcoming country is one thing. But to invite the world to work legally in America or visit without assuring that visa holders leave when their temporary time stay expires is self-destructing.

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