The O-1 work visa is for nonimmigrants to the United States who have exceptional abilities in the subjects of art, athletics, business, education and science. These individuals may be celebrities in the film, music or television industry and have received national or international recognition for their achievements. Some South Carolina residents might not realize that even famous individuals such as filmmaker James Cameron and actress Rachel McAdams need work visas.
South Carolina employers may be interested in learning that the federal government might start approving an increasing number of H2-B visas. H2-B visas allow companies to hire non-skilled employees to work in various industries other than farming and agriculture.
Foreign nationals in South Carolina who have visas to work in the United States may be interested in some proposed changes put forth by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. Final rulings may alter from these proposals, and they will not be put into place until later in 2016.
South Carolina businesses that employ workers from foreign countries may find the fees required for these visas to be a necessary cost for achieving their staffing goals. It is important to note that the government is increasing the fees required for some L-1 and H-1B visas. The Consolidated Appropriations Act was formalized on Dec. 18, 2015, providing for these increases as part of the legislation. The announcement of these changes was made by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services on Jan. 12, 2016.
While immigration issues are consistently in the news, South Carolina employers may be particularly frustrated by guidance issued in December 2015 related to the Immigration and Nationality Act. The law provides for the use of I-9 forms to evaluate the authorization of a prospective employee to work, which may help in preventing the employment of unauthorized parties. However, employers need to be aware that auditing their existing workforce could produce a legal backlash.
People in South Carolina who are facing deportation may be interested in learning about the prosecutorial discretion program. Under the immigration law, the government has the ability to allow people to remain in the U.S. who would otherwise be people who could be deported.
South Carolina investors should know that the popular EB-5 immigrant investor program was set to expire in mid-December. The controversial initiative has pumped billions of dollars into commercial development projects and revitalized struggling neighborhoods across the United States, but it has also been criticized for being susceptible to fraud and its misuse of taxpayer dollars. It now appears likely, however, that Congress will extend it through September 2016.
Permanent residents who are living in South Carolina are not obligated to show employers their green cards in order to prove that they have authorization to work in the United States. Though an employer may ask employees to fill out a Form I-9 to verify their identity, employees may produce any identification document that they choose from a list of acceptable documents.
South Carolina employees may be interested to know that McDonald's was ordered to pay $355,000 after the federal government determined the fast food chain had violated the law by refusing to accept expired green cards as proof of eligibility for employment. The company has also been ordered to forfeit back pay for all affected employees and will be monitored for a period of 20 months. According to the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, requiring unnecessary proof of citizenship or immigration status is an act of discrimination.
Before an employer can hire an individual who is not a United States citizen, a visa eligibility check must be completed. This can help ensure that a potential employee is allowed to enter the country and work legally. The first step is to look for any red flags in that person's history. For instance, if he or she has had previous visa application denials, that could be a sign that a prospective employee may not be allowed in the United States today.