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New employment immigration pilot program launches

One of the steps of the petitioning process for employers who are seeking an employment visa for a worker they desire to have work in their U.S. operations is for immigration officials to review the employer's eligibility to petition for foreign workers. As with many steps of the employment immigration process, this step has a lot of paperwork requirements.

Complying with the various paperwork requirements involved in petitioning for a foreign worker is critical for employers who desire to hire foreign workers for positions here in the United States. Paperwork errors or oversights could have various negative effects, including process delays. Immigration law attorneys can give employers guidance on paperwork matters regarding employment visa petitions for foreign workers.

One of the things that compounds the amount of paperwork employers have to do in relation to employer eligibility reviews for petitions for foreign workers is that they currently have to submit all of their eligibility-related documentation each time they petition for a worker (even if no relevant changes have occurred with them since the last time they petitioned).

Earlier this month, the federal government launched a pilot program that is testing out a new system aimed at reducing this particular paperwork burden. The program is called the Known Employer pilot.

Under this program, participating employers can ask to have their petitioning eligibility predetermined for certain classes of employment visas. The only visas the program covers are EB 1-2, EB 1-3, HB-1, L-1A, L-1B and TN visas. If the employer ends up being approved in this predetermination process, certain paperwork it submitted regarding its visa petitioning eligibility in the predetermination process will no longer have to be submitted every time it petitions for one of the covered visas for a foreign worker. This could greatly cut down on the employer eligibility review paperwork filing requirements for employers that petition for multiple workers.

As a note, the pilot program currently is very limited in its availability. Only a handful of companies have been cleared to participate in the program and the government is not taking applications for program participation.

Given the potential paperwork-reducing implications of the system the pilot is testing, it will be worth watching what happens with this program and if it is someday expanded out to be available to wider range of employers.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Known Employer Pilot," Accessed March 15, 2016

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