Sponsoring an Employee for a Green Card

By Michael Wildes Partner , Wildes & Weinberg | January 08, 2012

While every industry has been affected in some way by the global financial crisis, that holds particularly true for the Hospitality industry. With the erosion of revenue and profitability in the Hotel sector, many hoteliers are searching for top talent to implement their innovative business strategies. They have realized that hiring and retaining the right employee is a critical way to stay competitive in a recovering economy. For many modern hoteliers, nothing is more valuable than finding the right person to stick around long enough to learn how to adapt in periods of prosperity and decline.

Sometimes, despite a considerable investment of time and resources, an hotelier isn't able to find an American worker to fill the position. In that event, hoteliers are not limited to the pool of US workers who do not meet the minimum requirements for the job; they may consider hiring a foreign national. One way to do this is by sponsoring a foreign national for permanent residence through a process called Labor Certification. Once an hotelier is able to obtain Labor Certification, she may sponsor a foreign national for permanent residence; this means the right person for the job will become eligible for a green card.

First and foremost, because of the great benefits of legal permanent residence, which are granted to beneficiaries of the Labor Certification process, a Labor Certification is not easy to obtain. In fact, it's probably one of the toughest means of achieving an employment-based immigration benefit. Second, Labor Certification doesn't really have anything to do with immigration. How is that? Well, Labor Certification is an invention of the United States Department of Labor in response to an immigration requirement that requires the Secretary of Labor to certify that before a worker can enter the U.S., it must first be shown that there are no able, willing, qualified or available U.S. workers to fill the prospective job opening. The U.S. agency has implemented this meticulous scheme, in large part, to protect jobs for U.S. workers. Therefore, before offering a foreign national a job that may result in permanent residency, an employer hotelier must stop and check with the Department of Labor to make sure that it is OK.

In its application for Labor Certification, the Department of Labor (DOL) requires an employer to prove that there is no minimally qualified U.S. worker available to fill the position. The application is submitted online through a system called PERM (Program Electronic Review Management), a process which consists of several steps. First, the employer must identify the duties and requirements of the job. This step seems simple enough, but it isn't. It takes skill and knowledge of the system to draft a description of duties and requirements that will pass muster with the Department of Labor. Next, the employer must request something called a "prevailing wage determination." The Department of Labor will respond with a number. That number represents the minimum salary the foreign national must be compensated, based on the level of knowledge and experience required for the job. Hoteliers must then indicate on their applications that they will pay at least that much to whoever is hired for the job. The purpose of a wage determination, after all, is to protect U.S. workers from domestic companies who might seek out foreign nationals to work for less. The prevailing wage determination ensures that whoever fills the position will be paid at least the average wage paid to a similarly employed U.S. worker.

Once the employer receives the prevailing wage determination, she may proceed to the recruitment phase of the Labor Certification process. Incidentally, timing is everything in the Labor Certification process. There are many steps that must be completed within a certain time frame, and the completion of certain steps trigger the initiation of others. Getting the timing right is one of the reasons Labor Certification can be incredibly challenging for employers who are unfamiliar with the process.

The recruitment phase requires the employer to advertise the job in a major daily newspaper of general circulation in the area of employment for two Sundays. Any attempt to advertise in a little-known newspaper will require the employer to go back and do it over. In addition, a 30-day job order must be listed with the State Workforce Agency (SWA) of the DOL, in the State where the job is located. This is yet another attempt by the DOL to ensure that the employer makes an effort of hire a US worker before certifying a foreign national for the position.

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.

Close
Coming up in May 2019...

Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.