Partner Jennifer Behm was the featured interview during the All Things Considered Newscast with Mike Desmond last Friday, September 18th in a segment titled, “You and the Law: Staying Here For a Job.” The interview aired on radio station WBFO 88.7 at 5:45 p.m. To listen to the interview please click here.
In the interview, Jennifer Behm highlighted several options for recent college graduates to remain in the United States.
Mike Desmond: If someone is a graduate student at UB in one of the STEM fields and wants to stay here for a job, can they?
Jennifer: They can, a lot of times employers are willing to sponsor those students for a work based visa. They are not always easy to get, but they can certainly give it a shot in the government’s H-1B lottery. If that application is accepted for adjudication and approved they can stay for up to a six year period. A lot of times employers want to sponsor those individuals for a green card later down the line so that’s a great benefit to allow an individual to stay and work in the United States.
Mike Desmond: Now when you say H-1B, that’s one of these categories for people with special skills, correct?
Jennifer: Correct, it is. The H-1B category is for individuals who work in a specialty occupation, which traditionally requires a bachelors degree or higher. The government limits the number of H-1B visas available each year so when the filing period is open on April 1st of each year hundreds of thousands of applicants submit their application for a five day filing period. If selected and approved in a random lottery system that person is considered a very lucky H-1B holder.
Mike Desmond: So if you’re a company on the medical campus or something like that you probably want people with advanced degrees in these exotic fields and these people want to work in these exotic fields?
Jennifer: Yes, absolutely. There’s often an argument made against providing visas and green cards to these highly skilled foreign nationals because people believe that in doing so harms the job prospects for Americans. What people don’t realize all the time is that these skilled scientists, researchers, and professionals create more jobs in innovations and additionally, these individuals are typically hired as part of the normal recruitment process which compliments, not replaces, Americans. So in my opinion, if the US is to thrive in the globalized twenty first century economy, employment based immigration has to be seen as a strategic resource that can both meet the labor market needs and foster economic growth in competition while still protecting US workers and improving wages and working conditions.
Mike Desmond: Is it complicated if a graduate student has a husband, wife, family or kids, or is it all part of the process?
Jennifer: It’s not necessarily complicated. These visa categories allow for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 to accompany these workers. They are considered derivatives and they are entitled to a derivative status.
Mike Desmond: Are you getting these applications or for that matter any graduate students say from the University of Toronto who want to work here?
Jennifer: Absolutely, we get these types of applications all the time.
Mike Desmond: Washington being Washington, is it complicated?
Jennifer: It certainly is not an easy process to navigate; there are a lot of nuances. We call it alphabet soup because there are so many different employment based categories an individual may qualify for. I certainly recommend engaging a professional immigration attorney to help assess the situation. We work with companies, hospitals, research institutions, as well as foreign national individuals on the individual level. It’s not an easy process to navigate alone, especially if you are not familiar with the U.S. immigration system.
Mike Desmond: I would think that some of the respective employers have difficulty finding people with the kind of skills they’re looking for. “We’ve got a grad student at UB who has interned with us and he or she is just what we need.” Can they keep this person?
Jennifer: It can certainly be difficult for companies to maintain working relationships with foreign nationals. If they are moving away from F-1 status (student) into H-1B status, like I said the H-1B category is a lottery so it can be difficult.
If you are interested in exploring your options to stay and work in the United States, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today!