On Friday, I was honored to join a group of today’s business leaders and innovators at WeWork, who are shaping tomorrow, for a discussion on immigration. In a room nineteen floors above the rumbling of New York’s traffic with sushi in hand, two concerns quickly became central to our discussion: (1) the growing barrier of US businesses—small, mid, and large—to access to the global workforce; and (2) the foreign entrepreneur’s inability to enter –or even attempt to enter—as a start-up in or expansion to the US market. Central to these concerns: an antiquated US immigration system that breeds uncertainty to the US and foreign businesses alike in an American economy that is so globally intertwined.
As we ate our sushi, I worked my way through my somewhat mundane PowerPoint that was just an alphabet of letters with some followed by numbers. The A-visa. B-1 visa. The C-visa. E-visa. F-1 visa (with OPT, that is). The H-1B and H-2 to 3 Visas, followed by the J, L, M, O, P, and R-Visas. And, yes, the TN-Visa, which, still surprising to many in the room, remained intact in the recent US-Mexico trade deal. This was followed by the EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, and EB-5 immigrant visas—the “green card.” A few there had used one, two, or, maybe three of these visas. Some were quite intrigued by the number of letters. Each sat there and looked at the different visas, the different options – many of which were never heard of, explained, or quickly ignored—thinking that that visa was not of the proper classification, or, was too “tough” to secure an approval.
As our discussion progressed, I learned that many in the room acted as their own counsel on immigration matters – went to a website, printed out immigration forms, and completed them without the benefit of counsel. Many in the room had a human resources department that would handle immigration matters. That, I noted to the group, is where errors lay and from which concerns arise. Immigration is no simple matter. Immigration is not just a few forms. Immigration is not an easy “HR” issue. Reliance by companies – small and large—on their HR departments, or other non-immigration attorneys and personnel may, at one time, been appropriate. This is no longer the case. In fact, to do so places both the employer and the employee in great jeopardy, as the smallest of errors, will lead to the greatest of problems, delays, and ultimate denials.
Yes, there are options for the US business owner seeking foreign talent. Yes, there are options for the foreign entrepreneur seeking to establish a physical presence and enhance into the US market. But, relying on the internet to pick which visa may work and what documents to submit, or, asking a friend who has been through the process before, are not the way forward. Seeking competent immigration counsel to analyze each of your immigration-related decisions is absolutely critical.
To learn more about this post or any other immigration matter, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.