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Understand basics of work-related U.S. visas

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in Centerpiece,Employment Law,Human Resources

VisaDo you rely in part on foreign employees who are in the United States on work visas or who hold green cards? Then it’s time to brush up on the various types of visas and what the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor require of noncitizen workers.

The Trump administration shows every intention of making sure that everyone in the country is here legally and that employers are following the rules. (See “Business groups wary of Trump immigration policies.”) Here’s a summary of what’s required for two common kinds of visas employees might hold:

Green cards: Lawful permanent residents are allowed to live and work indefinitely in the United States. Generally, green card holders can retain visas as long as they want, or until they petition to become U.S. citizens.

If you helped an employee become a green card holder through a labor certification, make sure you followed the rules.

H-1B visas: This common work authorization for foreign citizens lets an individual hold a specific job for a specific time frame.

An H-1B is not an immigration visa. It does not confer a right to remain in the country if the individual is no longer employed in the specific job for which the visa was granted. An H-1B visa is good for three years, renewable for up to six years.

Employers must certify that they cannot find a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to perform the job in order to obtain an H-1B visa. Generally, the foreign employee must have at least a college degree.

For employers, the most important step right now may be to make sure each foreign employee holds a valid visa and that your organization followed the proper procedures to obtain work authorization.

Consult an experienced immigration attorney for advice on how to comply with complex visa rules that are sure to be in the compliance spotlight in coming months.

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