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Clark Hill 2022 Automotive & Manufacturing Industry Outlook: Immigration

February 1, 2022

Labor Shortage 

Many automotive and manufacturing employers continue to experience labor shortages, especially in professional and technical positions.  Employers may need to consider hiring foreign nationals. The H-1B visa is available to those who hold at least a US Bachelor’s Degree (or equivalent) relevant to the field in which he/she will be working, and the position normally requires at least a bachelor’s degree to perform the job. The TN visa is available for Canadian and Mexican citizens who are working in certain job categories.  Some eligible employers with foreign subsidiaries may be able to transfer skilled or managerial personnel into the US to temporarily fill these shortages on L-1 visas.  Further, spouses of L-1 visa holders will soon be eligible for work authorization without having to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EAD cards), making entry into the US workforce easier. For more information on these and other work visas, discuss with your Clark Hill immigration counsel.  

Visa Appointments at US Consulates  

For employers looking to move individuals into the U.S. from their global foreign manufacturing or automotive operations, appointments for visas at US consulates continue to have backlogs. However, we are starting to see fewer cancellations and shorter wait times are expected in 2022.   

In addition, for foreign national employees in the U.S. looking to travel to their home country in 2022, the government has announced a waiver process for certain in-person interviews for those applying for employment-based visas. The waiver of in-person interviews is expected to significantly shorten visa processing times for those eligible 

International Travel Restrictions 

International travel continues to be important in the automotive and manufacturing industries, including those companies which have global plants or suppliers.  Vaccination, testing, and quarantine requirements seem to change frequently and often without notice. Prior to travel, individuals should check not only with their airlines, but also government websites for the latest information.   

At the time of publication, a negative COVID test taken one day prior to the date of travel is required for re-entry to the US.  Most foreign nationals are required to be fully vaccinated to re-enter the US.  The US Center for Disease Control’s website should be reviewed prior to making travel plans and again immediately before travel.  For each destination country, make sure you understand the current entry and exit requirements for the destination, a backup quarantine plan if you get sick while traveling, and a plan for where to obtain the COVID test for re-entry to the US.   

H-1B Lottery in March 2022 

Individuals who are currently in H-1B status may “transfer” their H-1B to a new employer after filing an H-1B petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and do not have to go through the H-1B lottery to obtain one of the limited numbers of H-1B visas available per year.   Those who have not had H-1B status in the past generally must go through the H-1B lottery process described below.  

For H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2023 H-1B quota, USCIS will again use its electronic registration system to randomly select which employers are eligible to file an H-1B petition for a specified worker.  The H-1B lottery registration period is expected to be held in early March 2022.   Most commonly, current employees who are working on an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card in F-1 student status seek to be sponsored for an H-1B visa.  Contact your immigration counsel soon to discuss any current or potential employees you may want to register in the H-1B lottery.  

Form I-9 Compliance 

Just as many employers were working partially or fully remotely, so too was Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Form I-9 audits are expected to increase in 2022 and employers are encouraged to review their current Form I-9s and hiring policies.  Make sure that any Form I-9s that were completed remotely during the shutdown are updated to reflect an in-person review of the documents after the employer reopens the office.  Employers may want to consider an internal Form I-9 audit prior to any potential government audit.

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