Jamaica Magazine

Immigration: Alabama and Georgia’s HB 87

Written by Safiya Byars, Esq

Recently the states of Georgia and Alabama have set a new standard in the enforcement of immigration law. On Georgia passed HB 87 i.e., the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011. However, the State of Alabama set a new national standard for get-tough immigration policy. Alabama’s Governor Robert J. Bentley’s new immigration law surpasses Arizona’s SB 1070, with provisions affecting law enforcement, transportation, apartment rentals, employment and education. Georgia’s HB87 law became effective on July 1, 2011. Alabama’s SB 1070 is scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2011.  With the enactment of these two draconian immigration laws employers will now be forced to seek solutions to ensure that their employees have the required documentation to work.  This week’s article will explore the basic requirements for employers who are seeking to employ a legal labor force.

Foreign workers usually fall into two categories. The first category is focused on professional employment. Professional employment usually requires that the foreign worker has at least a bachelor’s degree and/or the work experience equivalent. The second category is focused on non-skilled or skilled labor. In this category the foreign worker is not required to have an academic degree. The remainder of this article will focus on the employment visas that are available for skilled and non-skilled foreign workers.

H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers
The H-2A program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs for which U.S. workers are not available.  H-2A visa classification applies to non-citizens who are seeking to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature in the United States on a temporary basis .Unlike the H-2b visa there is no limit on the number of H-2A visas available each year.

H-2A petitions may only be approved for nationals of countries that the United States has has designated. The list of H-2A eligible countries is published in a notice in the Federal Register (FR) by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a rolling basis.  Designation of countries on the H-2A list of eligible countries will be valid for one year from publication.   Effective Jan. 18, 2011, nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs:  Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.  Of these countries, the following were designated for the first time this year:  Barbados, Estonia, Fiji, Hungary, Kiribati, Latvia, Macedonia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers
The H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. There are only 66,000 H-2B visas available each fiscal year (October 1st to September 30th). Once the H-2B cap is reached, USCIS may only accept petitions for H-2B workers who are exempt from the H-2B cap.  For additional information on the current H-2B cap, see the “Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants” link to the right or go to it directly at www.uscis.gov/h-2b_count.

H-2B petitions may only be approved for nationals of countries that the United States has designated. The list of H-2B eligible countries is published in a notice in the Federal Register (FR) by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a rolling basis.  Designation of countries on the H-2B list of eligible countries will be valid for one year from publication.

Effective Jan. 18, 2011, nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs:  Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.  Of these countries, the following were designated for the first time this year:  Barbados, Estonia, Fiji, Hungary, Kiribati, Latvia, Macedonia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

How can the Law Office of Safiya Byars assist employers and foreign workers?

The H-2B/H-2A Visa process is simply more than filling out immigration forms.  There are a number of procedural and factual requirements for obtaining these benefits.  Furthermore navigating through the process can be very daunting and time-consuming for the employer.  For this reason, it is advisable to obtain the representation of a qualified immigration law attorney who is accustomed to processing H-2B/H-2A visas.

About the Writer:
Safiya Byars ([email protected]) is the senior partner and owner in the Law Office of Safiya Byars (www.byarslawgroup.com). She is an active member of the Caribbean and International communities in Georgia. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Montevallo and received her law degree from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Her office is located at 160 Clairemont Avenue, Ste. 200, Decatur, Georgia 30030.  Attorney Byars handles all immigration matters, deportation defense, family law issues, and business formation/litigation. To discuss you case, contact Attorney Byars at 404-992-6506 or 678-954-5809.

About the author

Safiya Byars, Esq

Safiya Byars is the founder and senior partner of the Byars Firm. Attorney Byars serves as the Chair of the Family Immigration Continuing Learning Education and the Vice-Chair of the Immigration Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia. She is a native of Kingston, Jamaica. The Byars firm is located at 3720 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Suite D2, Chamblee, Georgia 30341. The Byars Firm handles Immigration, Family, and Estate Planning matters. We can be reached at 678-736-5600 and email: [email protected]