The new immigration policy’s effect on HR

30 Dec

The process for getting green cards has changed.

President Barack Obama recently made changes to the U.S. immigration policy that may have effects on the way human resources hires people. The change has to do with the way green cards are processed. Under the old method, immigrants under a temporary visa would be hired by a company, and then begin filing paperwork for permanent resident status. It could take upwards of nine years, according to the Society for Human Resources Management. During that time, workers would stay at the same job, and if they quit that job or were fired, they would have to start the application for residence over again.

Under the new frame work, workers can switch jobs after 180 days, so long as the two occupations are "similar," although the meaning of similar has not yet been clarified from any court precedents.

What this means for HR
The most typical hires for immigration are through the H1-B visa or through OPT-STEM. The H1-B visa is for technical jobs, such as computer programming, and can be extended for up to six years – or longer if the visa holder has an approved permanent resident petition. OPT stands for optional practical training and is for students who have come to the U.S. to study. Students with the right visa can do OPT work for one year after they finish school. Students whose college degree is related to science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) can stay longer. OPT-STEM students might see their immigration rights extend for another two to four more years under the new laws, SHRM reported.

Those who have H-1B visas who are filing for permanent residency will soon be able to change jobs more easily, which could affect retention. Meanwhile, students under OPT will have more time to work in the U.S., which means they can be kept longer. Previously, if an employer wanted to keep an OPT student, then the company would have to sponsor him or her for an H-1B visa and enter the visa lottery. Much of this work would have to be tracked by human resources management.

The Washington Post reported that the laws are unlikely to be affected by politics in the future because the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services budget derives from processing fees, which means that it operates relatively independently of government funding programs. Unless the current government changes to one that opposes the new rules, there is little that can alter the laws from the way they are now.

Immigrants and paperwork
The bottom line is that it may become easier to hire immigrants, but it will be harder to retain them. Additionally, some workers might come forward and self-report they have been using falsified documents, according to SHRM. In such a case, depending on the state and depending on if the immigrant has new documents that are authentic, they must either be fired to avoid expensive fines by the government, or they cannot be fired because the authentic documents stand even if the previous ones had been faked. Those for whom this is a concern should check with immigration lawyers to find out the local laws.

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