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Law Office of Joseph C. Grasmick --Business Immigration--
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17. My company feels that a Green Card is a passport to leave and are "sitting on the fence" as far as helping me. What can I do?
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(From FAQ Part II-Frequently Asked Questions: Canada to U.S. Immigration for Businesses and Professionals http://www.grasmick.com/morefaq.htm)

ANSWER: We advise our clients---both employers and employees---that if an employee is chained to a company via a temporary work permit, there is something wrong with the relationship. They should get on with the green card, and focus on other aspects of the relationship.

On the other hand, there may be other reasons the employer is delaying. Perhaps they are operating under incorrect assumptions or fears of the process...or just, inertia? Perhaps they think they have plenty of time, and do not realize that processing times for labor certifications are increasing exponentially?

Yes, you are free to leave the company if you have a green card, but:

  • The green card is a valuable fringe benefit that employers can confer on employees. Although it may seem expensive, the perceived and actual benefits to you greatly exceed the expense to the employer.
  • There is less hassle for the employer. The employer can eliminate the expense of renewing temporary permits by getting permanent status.
  • There is a top limit on L-1's. The employer may wait until it is too late, and then be without your services entirely.
  • When an employer does not sponsor the employee, that employee then has powerful incentive to find another employer who will sponsor you. This is particularly crucial in positions that aren't easy to fill.
  • If your corporate ownership structure changes, your temporary permit could become invalid. By getting you a green card, the employer does not have to worry about any changes in the corporate structure or in your job description.
  • Your employer cannot use you on projects requiring certain security clearances without your green card. The U.S. government requires this for many of it's contractors.
  • Creative arrangements can minimize employer risk. You can give some kind of commitment or guarantee that you will stay with the organization for a particular period of time. Negotiate a longevity bonus in your compensation plan with an incentive to stay with the company. Perhaps you can commit to reimbursing the company for the cost of immigration/legal expenses if you leave the firm within 18 months of receiving your green card. Be creative. Make sure that it is a reasonable proposal, and be sure that it overcomes their fears. (Thanks to John Chettleburgh for this idea.)

Perhaps you can show the above list to your employer?

By the way, here are some advantages to you personally:

  • Financial security for you: Your spouse and children can normally obtain permanent residency with work permission, without separate employer sponsorship.
  • Security for family: family has U.S. immigration status if you should pass away or lose job.
  • Benefits to relatives: You can pass on immigration benefits to certain relatives.
  • Pay resident tuition. In many states, green card holders pay less tuition for College and University. In some cases, savings are considerable---thousands of dollars a year.
  • Adult children can stay in U.S. If children have their green cards they can live, study and work in the U.S. after turning 21. Otherwise they will have to get student visas to study and work visas to work. They will not be able to reside with you as U.S. residents.
  • Eligibility for life insurance. Our clients report that some insurance agencies require green cards.
  • Obtain professional license and credentials. Some states require green cards before granting professional licenses.
  • Eligibility for full citizenship: After a waiting period, you can apply for U.S. citizenship. (Note: you do not have to take out citizenship---you can be a permanent resident forever.) Dual citizenship is also possible. You need not give up your present citizenship.
  • Ease in travel: No need for U.S. passport visas or form I-94 for international travel. An end to restrictions on travel, when renewals are pending---there are no renewals required for green cards.
  • Immunity against future changes in immigration rules, that could hurt your temporary permit.
  • Access to security clearances, eligibility for government grants and exemption from export restrictions.
  • Legal rights: More rights under U.S. law.
  • Tax benefits: Possible income taxation benefit to permanent resident who may be taxed as "non-resident" in home country. (Contact a tax advisor for details.)
  • Freedom in choosing place of residence: Green card holders can permanently move to the U.S. On the other hand, it is not necessary to be continuously present in the U.S. (You and other readers can request an E-mail report on Returning Residents.)
  • Home purchase: Mortgages may be easier to get. Many banks require permanent residency or other long-term visa, before granting mortgage. Take advantage of U.S. tax benefits of home mortgage payments.
  • Political campaign contributions. Green Card olders can make contributions in connection with State and Federal Elections. Other foreign nationals may not.

Consider using the resources of our firm to assist you in educating your employer.

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Law Office of Joseph C. Grasmick, Business Immigration
300 International Drive
Williamsville, NY 14221 USA
Tel: 716/842-3100  jgrasmick@grasmick.com

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