Food and Ag Industry: Know Your Visa Options and Immigration Strategies

This article was originally published January 21, 2020, and has been updated as of August 2022.

The food and agribusiness industry includes farms, restaurants and food manufacturing, processing and storage facilities. Companies within the food and agribusiness industry seek to employ talented professionals, such as research scientists, supply chain professionals, veterinarians and engineers, to bring food to the table in a changing world. With a focus on talent, food and agribusiness companies must understand the employment-based immigration factors that affect their U.S. workforces, as talented job candidates come from all over the world. Especially in periods of low unemployment, food and agribusiness companies need to be as competitive as possible in recruiting, hiring and retaining top-level talent.

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Workers Wanted: Proposed Legislation to Address Immigration Backlogs

Several bills have been recently proposed in Congress to address some of the challenges employers and employees face in terms of high-skilled immigration. Backlogs in the permanent residence (green card) process and difficulties procuring work visas for professional employees create significant stress and uncertainty for U.S. businesses in a competitive labor market.

One critical challenge is the significant backlog in the permanent residence process, which continues to grow. There are 140,000 immigrant visas available for employment-based applicants each year. However, these 140,000 visas are subject to a country cap that states no more than seven percent of the 140,000 available immigrant visas may go to immigrants from any one country. This cap does not consider the fact that demand from each country for employment-based visas is not equal. Largely because of the cap, individuals from countries for which demand for employment-based immigrant visas is higher — such as India and China — face extreme backlogs when seeking to become permanent residents in the U.S. These backlogs not only impact individuals and their families, but also impact their employers who are sponsoring them through the permanent residence process. There are currently over one million people affected by this backlog, putting strain on employers who must continue to sponsor and extend the temporary work authorization of individuals who cannot finalize their permanent residence processes due to the delays caused by the backlog.

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Immigration Strategies For Colleges and Universities

U.S. colleges and universities have many visa options that enable them to employ diverse and talented faculty from around the world. This article will introduce the primary nonimmigrant (temporary) visa categories used by U.S. colleges and universities to employ foreign faculty. The article will also provide key information about the permanent residency (green card) process. College and university employers typically employ faculty initially in a temporary nonimmigrant visa category. Thereafter, the college or university may begin working on a permanent residency case once the institution has determined that it wishes to employ the faculty member on a permanent basis.

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Visa Options and Immigration Strategies for Manufacturers

Many visa options exist to enable U.S. manufacturing companies to employ talented professionals, researchers and managers who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. This article will introduce the primary nonimmigrant (temporary) visa categories used by U.S. manufacturing companies to employ foreign national workers. The article will also provide key information about the permanent residency (green card) process. Manufacturing employers typically employ foreign nationals initially in a temporary nonimmigrant visa category. Thereafter, the manufacturer may begin working on a permanent residency case once the company has determined that it wishes to try to employ the foreign national on a permanent basis.

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