Whether people are visiting Mammoth Cave National Park, attending the Kentucky Derby or visiting one of Kentucky’s other famous destinations, tourism is a big part of the economy in Kentucky. Like many other tourist areas, some facilities in Kentucky rely on immigrants with a H-2B visa to work for them. For some employers, hiring immigrants with these visas is essential, as they are unable to find Americans willing to work for them. However, only 66,000 of these visas are issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services each year.
When an immigrant has an H-2B visa, once the three months it lasts for is up, the Department of Labor does not permit these immigrants to extend their visa so they can stay in the country longer. If they want to stay longer, they must reapply for an H-2B visa. That combined with a newly-enacted lottery system for assigning H-2B visas means that fewer immigrants are able to work in the U.S. under these circumstances, causing the employers who relied on them to suffer financial hardship.
As this shows, sometimes workers who arrive in America on a temporary visa wish to remain in the country after their visa expires. While there are legal avenues for doing so, they can be lengthy processes and there is no guarantee of success. This hurts not only immigrants who wish to gain U.S. permanent residency, but also the employers that hired them. Obtaining a Green Card is an extended process. Some immigrants living in the U.S. on a temporary visa may be forced to return to their home country while they seek a permanent visa.
Whether a person works in Kentucky on an H-2B visa or whether they wish to obtain a U.S. permanent residency, it is important that they understand the process for doing so. It can be a complicated process, especially as our nation’s immigration regulations and policies continue to change. However, it is not impossible. Making sure one’s application is as complete as possible, and is filed with the right agencies at the right times is key.