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"Red Card" program proposed to deal with foreign labor shortage

While some in Miami may be angered at the thought of illegal immigrants being employed in the U.S. while the country deals with overall high unemployment numbers, they often don’t realize that many areas of commerce have come to rely on foreign-born workers for their survival. Industries such as construction and agriculture employ a significant amount of these workers, yet restrictions in the number of employment visas and green cards often require them to either employ illegals or risk being unable to field an adequate workforce.

The need for an update to employment immigration policy is one of a number of issues that are currently driving the call for massive immigration reform. Current guidelines allow for about 291,000 employment-based green cards or visas to be issued annually. That includes all worker categories, from advanced degree-holders to seasonal or temporary workers. Yet the demand for such visas almost always far exceeds the supply, with H1-B visa requests for specialty workers exceeding the quota every year for the last decade, and H2-B requests for temporary workers exceeding the supply four of those years, as well.

All of this translates to an American job market that is in desperate need of workers in some areas. Proponents of employment immigration change point to instances of production sources being moved out of markets mainly due to a lack of foreign workers to fill jobs.

While the immigration reform bill approved by the Senate earlier this year would address employment immigration, a private entity out of Denver is proposing the idea of a “Red Card” guest-worker program, which would allow for the admittance of foreign workers and their families during the time of their employment. Each would be issued a smart card to allow them to be tracked by authorities, and participants would be required to return home once their employment is completed.

Whatever idea is adopted to deal with employment immigration problems, one thing seems certain: the American labor market is in desperate need of the assistance. Those needing information on employment immigration policies and what their current options are may want to speak with an immigration lawyer.

Source: Forbes “A U.S. Worker Shortage Calls For “Red Card” Immigration Reform” Benjamin Powell, Oct. 18, 2013

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