Abe Lincoln once said a man who represents himself in a legal proceeding has a fool for a lawyer. The same rings true for engaging the US immigration system. Dangers abound for employers and employees going into the process to petition for a work visa without proper legal counsel. Many don’t understand that if they violate a statute or provide inconsistent information by accident employers risk loosing their right to hire foreign workers, and employees risk being able to ever come into the country again.
Although on its face applying for a visa seems like a series of forms and documentation to be filed to the correct bureaucracy. Dig a little deeper and you find ever-changing statutes, laws, and regulations that vary from agency to agency, year to year. Immigration laws are some of the most complex laws in the United States, and since immigration is a hot topic politically – particularly when it comes to work visas – these complex laws are changing even faster. Furthermore, the USCIS, the USDS, and the US Department of Labor are not shy about making it clear that it’s not their job to educate visa petitioners about their statutes, laws, and regulations. If employers and employees wish to petition, learning the complex web of policy surrounding US work visas is on them. That means, anyone petitioning for US work visa status needs a lawyer.
A big reason so many petitioners are facing trouble with the USCIS is because standards around what academically qualifies a foreign employee for an H1B visa have changed in recent years. Employers are hiring employees that the USCIS will not approve because while many companies can see the value of the education, experience, and specialized skill sets of the people they hire, the USCIS often needs more proof.
Three-year bachelor’s degrees from other countries must be evaluated for US equivalence to clearly show the value of the employee’s education and knowledge base. Same goes for degrees in related fields, as well as generalized degrees rather than specialized ones. For this reason, petitioners seek out credential evaluation agencies to write detailed evaluations of the value of their education. These evaluations help lawyers predict possible problems that may arise in legal immigration proceedings.
A team of international education experts and legal experts is what it takes to navigate the tricky statutory landscape of the US work visa petition process.
This article was written by Rebecca Little