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Can You Move to the United States if You’re Unemployed?

Despite all the challenges the United States has endured during the coronavirus pandemic, the country has managed to retain its status as the favorite destination for immigrants from around the world. Prior to the pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security tallied nearly 50 million immigrants within U.S. borders. This is a figure comparable to the population of South Korea. Thanks to an aggressive vaccination campaign and a comprehensive plan for economic recovery, the U.S. is on track to receive even more immigrants this year and beyond, and quite a few of them will arrive without firm job offers.

The Vast Immigrant Workforce in the U.S.

According to estimates from the National Immigration Forum, foreigners make up about 17 percent of the U.S. workforce. This figure includes non-immigrants who obtain visas that only allow them to work or do business temporarily. These people are expected to leave the country once their visas expire or their employment comes to an end. One example of this situation can be seen in the technology sector, which employs thousands of skilled foreign workers under the H-1B visa program. There are also seasonal migrant workers, international company transfers, and cross-border employees.

No Job Requirement for Immigration

The most common methods of U.S. immigration involve family sponsorship and marriage. Even though there’s a general assumption that immigrants will eventually look for jobs, there are no requirements directing them to do so. For example, employment authorization documents are issued to immigrants who are seeking to adjust their status, but this doesn’t force them to start working. To this effect, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services expects spouses and relatives who sponsor immigrants will be able to provide financial support until the people they sponsor find work.

Getting Jobs in the U.S.

It’s more difficult to get a determination of admissibility than to get an actual work permit. USCIS will readily issue employment authorization cards to immigrants who appear to have a reasonable shot at becoming conditional residents. In the case of the non-immigrant K-1 visa for future spouses, green cards tend to be processed very rapidly, so applicants won’t need work permits for too long.

Permanent Work Visas in the U.S.

EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 visas are employment visas for people who have a reasonable expectation of becoming immigrants in the future. For example, German scientist Albert Einstein came to the U.S. before World War II under the equivalent of an EB-1 visa, and he later became an American citizen. EB stands for employment-based, and this type of visa can be used to fill permanent jobs based on exceptional skills—for example, journalists who are experts in covering certain regions of the world but who need to reside in the U.S. as part of their work. For the most part, these visas will be handled by immigration law firms because of their intricate processing. It’s easier if immigrants have the benefit of employer-sponsored petitions. San Diego immigrants who need advice about legally working in the United States should seek the counsel of experienced immigration attorneys. 

Get in touch with KS Visa Law if you’d like more information on any issues dealing with immigration, including those surrounding employment. We specialize in every aspect of immigration law, from naturalization to family-based immigration. Call 858-874-0711 today to schedule an appointment with one of our San Diego immigration law experts.

May 2024