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Most immigrants who enter the U.S. with the intention to stay longer than just a short visit usually look for the opportunity to work while with their families. Unfortunately, the rules for being eligible to work are not always obvious since there are so many categories with different qualification requirements. Typically, there are family-based and employment-based visas that provide different options depending on whether the applicant is seeking a temporary visa or a more long-term option. Most family classifications are permanent, but business visas and those that fall under the humanitarian umbrella are mostly temporary and may not provide the right to work.
With business visas, there are five different preference categories that have their own set of requirements. For example, preference category one reserves visas and work permits for people extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. Since this type of visa is for business, the right to work is automatically tied to the approval of the visa and the applicant does not need to do anything once they enter the U.S. before they can start working. This is not true with most other visa options, especially in the family or humanitarian categories.
Under family-based visas, those seeking a green card usually also has the right to request work approval if the interview is scheduled to take place inside the U.S. This category has the right to request a work permit and is intended to assist families who must wait for many months before their joint interview is scheduled. This allows the family to cover their immediate needs and plan for their future in the U.S. while waiting for the lengthy green card process to be done. While this is very good, the unpredictable wait time to receive these permits has been very bad. Historically the wait time for a work permit was under 3 months, but it is 6-9 months under the current administration.
In contrast, the other family green card process which requires the interview be conducted outside the U.S. does not grant the right to work in the U.S. This is true even if the family member is inside the country legally. For example, if an immigrant is in the U.S. on a tourist visa, they must not only be prepared to leave the U.S. to attend their interview, but they must not attempt to work while visiting as this would violate their visa. The current administration is very strict in the enforcement of this rule and violators are being denied their green cards and even being deported.
Humanitarian processes such as asylum or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) also have the right to request a work permit, but in the case of asylum, the applicant must wait six months before they are allowed to send in their request. The processing time for these approvals can be around 3 months or more, so some asylum applicants risk working illegally for almost a year just to survive due to the extensive amount of time it takes the government to process their request.
As immigration continues to change, so do the rules relating to work authority. Since working in the U.S. for most is considered a privilege rather than a right, immigration is very strict to ensure the rules are being followed, so it is very easy for an applicant to make a misstep and jeopardize their future process. As such, it is highly recommended to speak with an experienced immigration attorney to avoid lengthy delays or other problems. If you would like to discuss what options are available to you, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. You can do this by calling our office at 616-805-3435 or by using the following link to schedule an appointment online: https://marvinlawoffice.com/schedule-a-consultation/