The elections are over and Joseph Biden will be our next president. This could be great news for companies with a Latino workforce. Biden promised to extend TPS for Salvadoran and Honduran nationals and promised to enact TPS for Venezuelan nationals.
TPS is a legal status immigration confers to immigrants who meet certain criteria. The benefits of TPS are worth discussing. An immigrant with TPS is permitted to work in the United States and is issued a work permit. An immigrant with TPS cannot be arrested because of his or her immigration status and importantly, an immigrant with TPS cannot be deported while he or she possesses TPS. This last benefit is true even if the Immigration Judge issued an order of deportation.
Honduran nationals received TPS benefits in late 1998 and Salvadoran nationals received TPS benefits in early 2001. That means, that most immigrants with TPS have resided in the United States for more than two decades. While in the United States, immigrants formed families, obtained employment, and in many cases, created companies. The TPS program was a net positive for the United States. TPS holders paid an estimated 1.5 billion dollar in taxes.
Many immigrants with TPS possess a path to permanent residency through the labor certification process. The labor certification or PERM process requires a company to test the labor market and determine if there are US workers willing and able to do the same job as an immigrant for the prevailing wage. This process takes a bit more than a year and it is the first hoop an immigrant must go through to obtain his or her permanent residency. The process from beginning to end takes about three years.
In the three years the immigrant awaits his or her green card, a relationship is established with the company. The immigrant knows the business, becomes productive and has an incentive to stay in the company.
It is important to discuss the labor certification process with an attorney. It contains pitfalls, depending on the state where the petition is filed. For example, in certain states, a TPS employee can obtain his or her green card in the United States through the labor certification process without departing the United States. In the vast majority of states, the immigrant must leave the country and that departure can trigger horrible consequences for the emplooyee, his or her family and of course, the company that invested in training the employee and because of carelessness, the employee cannot return to the United States.
Let’s hope the new presidency brings more paths to permanent residency to immigrants. In the meantime, companies should rely on the paths in existance, more so now that TPS will be extended.