The number of baby boomers turning 65 years old is rapidly increasing, and, unfortunately, many of them have multiple chronic health conditions ranging from diabetes to dementia. Yet, the supply of caregivers is not keeping pace with the increasing demand for their services. Over 25% of caregivers are foreign-born, yet our broken immigration system does not provide for a temporary working visa category for them.
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- Francis R., Nashville, Tennessee
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Some Good News
In the past, many employers have been reluctant to sponsor caregivers for green cards because of long government waiting times.
For example, as recently as October 2015, the waiting time to get a green card for a caregiver born in the Philippines (where many of the caregivers were born) was over 7 years. However, over the past few years, the waiting times have decreased considerably.
In June 2019, the waiting times for the Employment-Based 3rd Category (EB-3) for professionals, skilled and unskilled workers born not only in the Philippines, but in almost every country of the world, shrunk to zero!
Who qualifies as a caregiver? Generally, employers will request that a caregiver have 2-3 years of experience caring for seniors or patients. Among those who qualify as caregivers are nurses, whether RNs, LPNs or CNAs.
The Green Card Process
This does not mean that caregivers can get green cards instantly. Both they and their employers must undergo the following process:
1. PERM Labor Certification – An employer in the U.S. who wishes to sponsor a caregiver for a green card must start the process by advertising the job at the “prevailing wage” as set by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). If the employer can show that no minimally qualified American workers applied for the job, the DOL will approve the PERM application. This process usually takes 6-8 months.
2. I-140 Visa Petition – Once the PERM application is approved, the employer must file a visa petition with the Immigration Service (USCIS). The employer must show that they have the ability to pay the caregiver the required salary and that the caregiver has the requisite experience to perform the job duties. Although, the government sometimes takes many months to decide such petitions, if the employer pays a $1,410 premium processing fee to the USCIS, the agency must take action within 15 business days.
3. Green Card Interview – After the visa petition is approved, the caregiver will receive a letter from the State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC) in New Hampshire with a list of documents which must be submitted to the government as well as an invoice for filing fees. The caregiver (and her spouse and children) will be scheduled for a green card interview, usually at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in her country. They will take medical exams and be fingerprinted prior to the interview. At the Embassy the officer’s job is to make sure that the caregiver and her family are “admissible” to the U.S.
Once the caregiver’s immigrant visa is approved, she can book a flight to the U.S. and start working!
Start the Process ASAP
Our best estimate of the time required to undergo the above process ranges from 12 to 18 months. However, as more employers sponsor caregivers and other foreign-born persons for green cards, the backlogs are bound to increase.
Smart employers will take advantage of the present situation and sponsor caregivers for green cards before backlogs occur.
An applicant’s place in line for a green card is called their “priority date”. The priority date for a caregiver is the date that their employer submits a PERM application to the DOL. So even if the current priority dates in the EB-3 category become backlogged for 12 to 18 months, by the time that the caregiver is scheduled for a green card interview abroad, there will be no additional waiting period.
One More Thing
This is not something that you want to do on your own.
Retain the services of a law firm which specializes in employment-based immigration.
If you would like more information about employment-based immigration, we cover this subject in depth on our website, and would be pleased to discuss this with you in person, by telephone or on Skype.
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