THE NANNY PROBLEM
Hello Everybody. This is Cyrus Mehta. Welcome to this week's edition of immigration matters. We are glad to have you on our fortnightly segment where we provide you with the latest updates on immigration and related issues.
In this segment, we address the issue of household workers. Many of you would like to bring in a trusted domestic worker to look after your children or elderly parents. The acute shortage of child and elderly care workers has become a burning problem in the United States. It was spotlighted during the sensational trial of the teenaged English au pair who was charged with murdering the child of Mathew and Deborah Eappen. After a Massachusetts jury convicted her of second degree murder, the judge reduced the conviction to involuntary manslaughter.
Frankly speaking, it is extremely difficult to sponsor a domestic worker. Furthermore, there have also been instances of gross abuse and exploitation of domestic workers by unscrupulous employers. Activist organizations in New York monitor the abuses of South Asian domestic workers.
The household employer must first obtain a labor certification to establish that there are no available US workers for the position. The Labor Department would consider a nanny or child monitor to be an unskilled position. The "unskilled" worker category is so heavily backlogged that it would take more than 10 years for a green card to be issued to the intended nanny. By that time, your children would have grown and would no longer need to be looked after.
Not all household positions are considered unskilled. The positions of butler, household cook and child tutor may be considered skilled jobs. It would take approximately upward of three years to sponsor a skilled worker. One should only initiate the labor certification process for skilled positions if there is a genuine need for them in the household and a full time position can be justified. Furthermore, the alien being sponsored must demonstrate at least two years of prior experience in one of these occupations.
There is no optimum solution to this problem. Often times, I receive inquiries on whether it is possible to bring in a person on a temporary basis to look after a sick and aging relative. The H-2 visa could be utilized in such a situation where the position is clearly temporary. A temporary situation would involve a relative who has suddenly become sick and requires urgent home care to recover. This relative may need an individual who can speak his or her language and prepare special food. The H-2B visa may be granted one year at a time, for a maximum period of three years. This is a nonimmigrant visa, which does not lead to a green card. Even after the approval is obtained in the US, there is a good chance that the consular officer may turn down the application in the home country.
What could perhaps work is if the employer is coming to the US in a nonimmigrant status such as an H-1B or L-1 visa. Such an employer can have a domestic worker accompany him or her to the US if the worker has been employed with the family for over a year in the home country. The domestic worker would have to be paid the prevailing wage as well as room and board in the U.S.
In conclusion, there are extremely limited options to take care of this burning problem. Congress must recognize that qualified overseas workers could help in alleviating the acute shortage and should create special categories. Domestic workers may not be rocket scientists, but their contributions would be invaluable to American families. The program should have adequate safeguards against abuses and exploitation. But in this climate of anti-immigration legislation, we can only dream that something like this will ever get implemented.
I hope you found this segment informative and helpful. If you have any questions on this or related issues, please do not hesitate to contact the law offices of Cyrus Mehta at 212-686-1581. The number once again is 212-686-1581.
This is Cyrus Mehta wishing you a wonderful weekend. See you again in two weeks.