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Experiences sponsoring a foreign worker for Green Card?

Carolyn   Newman's Profile

My company is growing, but we're still quite small with 26 employees. I've been employing a foreign student as co-op/intern for the past year. I love her work ethic and she has proven herself to be very helpful as a business analyst. She's about to graduate and needs a sponsor to become a legal worker here. The process as I understand it is lengthy and requires registration/application with the DOL. What if the prevailing wage determination is higher than the company can afford, but something she is willing to work for? Any experiences and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Btw if your intern doesn't have a work visa, you're breaking the law.

Jeff Durbin
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: F. Gavina and Sons, Inc.
(Chief Financial Officer, F. Gavina and Sons, Inc.) |

Not necessarily. Student visas allow a student to do an internship for a period during and after her studies. I don't know the details but I know it is there through conversations with specialists.

Brian Terrell
Title: Managing Partner / Managing Member
Company: BTerrell Group, LLP / CodePartners, LLC
(Managing Partner / Managing Member, BTerrell Group, LLP / CodePartners, LLC) |

I've had excellent experiences in the exact situation you describe and would be willing to share those with you. You'll need a good attorney and a willingness to make an investment in exchange for 5 years or so of the same type of dedicated effort you've enjoyed over the past year.

dan Poirier
Title: Executive Director
Company: XPOband, LLC
(Executive Director, XPOband, LLC) |

Carolyn,

My company has gone through this process. The best advice I can give you is to find an immigration lawyer who knows what they are doing and pay the money for their assistance. We did that and the results were very positive. As Wayne suggests, do not hire her for work before the Visa is approved.

There is no way around the prevailing wage issue. You may want to spend the couple hundred dollars it takes to get that ruling at the front end of your efforts. This way, you can ensure you are not priced out of the market. There is no sense spending all the time and resources on a H1 Visa only to find out half way through the process that the prevailing wage is too high to meet your objectives.

One more point, your timing is a little rough. I believe, (but am not 100% sure), the government has run out of H1 B Visa's for the current year. You may have to wait until next year to file for this particular job. On the bright side, you have time to figure out if this truly is the right move for you.

Anonymous
(VP, Finance) |

We pay legal fees of about $8K to an immigration specialist and it gets done.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

$8,000 for legal fees (H1B) is extremely high. H1B is s/b roughly $2,000, O-1 about $2500, Green Card could be $5-8K.

Anonymous
(BSA) |

Carolyn, After she graduates the immigration automatically gives her Employment Authorization Document [EAD] Card for her to work for 29 months(12 months + 17 months extension) without paying prevailing wage. Using the EAD card one can work for any company until it expires. This should be good enough to continue to work for you until you make a decision to apply for her H1B (Non-immigrant visa) which requires you to pay her prevailing wages(no exception).

Please read the govt link:
http://www.uscis.gov/archive/archive-news/questions-and-answers-extension-optional-practical-training-program-qualified-students

-Jay

Carolyn Newman
Title: President
Company: Audimation Services
(President, Audimation Services) |

I will read up on this. Thank you!

Carla Gordon
Title: Accountant
Company: Govt
(Accountant, Govt) |

It's great that you like her and her work, but are there no qualified U.S. citizens?

Carolyn Newman
Title: President
Company: Audimation Services
(President, Audimation Services) |

Houston is a really tight job market. I have to admit, I also want to help her. She is a very nice person with a great work ethic and lots of good experience.

Anonymous
(President) |

One of my client companies sponsored a then-recent college graduate for her Green Card. It was a long process (over 5 years) with a positive outcome. The company agreed to pay all of the attorney and filing fees. The prevailing wage turned out to be more than the company would have been willing to pay. However it was understood that her growth in the company was limited and she would be leaving shortly after receiving her Green Card (which she did). The employer seemed to be OK with this.

Since you are obviously pleased with your foreign student's work ethic and are willing to sponsor her, you may want to consider making the investment to keep her on board for as long as the process takes. It can be a very enriching experience for both you and the sponsored employee.

Make sure you choose wisely when selecting an immigration attorney. My client had to find another attorney after the first one missed some key deadlines resulting in a negative determination by the DOL. That was devastating and you want to avoid that outcome.

Carolyn Newman
Title: President
Company: Audimation Services
(President, Audimation Services) |

Thank you. The 12K she's been quoted by her attorney seems high, especially after seeing some of the comments posted here. Did your client pay 5 figures in attorney's fees?

Anonymous
(Controller) |

Make sure to have a contract with the employee for a definitive time commitment. We did not do that and ended up spending a lot of time and money for two H1B's and the beginning of the green card process and then the employee left.

Carolyn Newman
Title: President
Company: Audimation Services
(President, Audimation Services) |

Good point. Thank you!

Carolyn Newman
Title: President
Company: Audimation Services
(President, Audimation Services) |

Good point. Thank you.

Carolyn Newman
Title: President
Company: Audimation Services
(President, Audimation Services) |

This is very useful information. Thank you!

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

Two points to supplement the great insight here. Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy law firm specializes in immigration services. You may want to reach out to them at a local office near you to get a reasonable quote within the 5K-8K range. Also the prevailing wage is specific to similarly situated companies based on geography and the job description and less on the "industry" . The OES data (offered for free by the DOL) is generally higher than what most companies budget for the job. Submitting alternate/acceptable prevailing wage data requires a survey with list of companies, their location and respective salary data based on the job description associated with the petition. (there are other requirements like posting the job and demonstrating you can't find qualified candidates locally). Hope this helps.

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