December 20, 2006

Colorado Id, driver license woes and tips on hiring foreign workers

More on immigration, identification and the DMV. As I mentioned before, I’ve recently had some experiences at the DMV. Given the current immigration issues that are up in the air here in Colorado (and throughout the US) its been an interesting process seeing first hand what US residents must go through if they are not born and bred in the US. If anything, the process has brought to light just how disconnected some of the services are. As a Canadian now living in Colorado I’ve recently had to deal with INS for visa matters and most recently, with the State DMV for State ID. Yesterday I decided to turn in my BC license inn favor of a Colorado DL… the first comments I received from the DMV clerk was that my birth certificate and my passport were not acceptable ID… yes indeed, rather amazing isn’t it! I guess a library card may have helped out! As I then went on to explain exactly what all my supporting documentation was (passport with I-94, work permit/Visas stamp, and supporting letters, I found myself standing there and having all this documentation being scrutinized by a clerk who really had no idea what she was looking at and even worse, her reaction was to keep implying that the papers I had were not acceptable… bloody amazing! Not to belittle here but I’ve had extensive dealings with INS, border crossing officers etc… and feel comfortable that I know fairly well what docs I need for various circumstances. In here defense, the clerk was busy, however, for her to proceed and attempt to process my application when she had no idea what was going on was ridiculous and should have been handled by a more senior employee that is skilled inn dealing with residents born outside of the US. I’m sure all the DMV people inn Colorado are a bit concerned as they are being told different things each week it seems. They are also likely more apt to be dealing with Mexican born aliens rather than Canadians, however, they do need to be prepared for all cases. As a suggestion, DMV employees and really, anyone who hires foreign born aliens, you need to be familiar with the various US work visas (TN, H, L and green cards) and even more important, you need to know what to look at in a passport, including how to read an I-94 – the I-94 is essentially the “golden” card than any foreign born resident must have in their possession allowing them to work – it will have a date stamp stating how long employment is allowed under that Visa. If a potential employee tells you they have a TN (NAFTA) visa or an H visa, thus they are allowed to work for you, they are full of crap. These visas are tied to a petitioning employer. Often, workers get into the US on these visas then search for different employment (this is not really kosher). When your company hires an employee under these circumstances they will need a new visa petitioned by you or your company. Finally, there’s this misconception that a Social Security number entitles the holder to additional ID and benefits... not so… I’ve had a SSN for years but have not always held US work / residency status. Anyone that’s been inn the US on a 1 year TN visa likely has a Social, however, that doesn’t mean that they are currently inn the country legally and entitled to work. Be careful, do your homework, and ask to see documents. With the current immigration issues arising inn Colorado, employers will likely come under tougher regulations and will be more accountable for the hiring of foreign-born labor. This is not to discourage the hiring of foreign employees (I actually feel strongly that the H1B visa limit needs to be raised once again) bur rather, to encourage the legal hiring of skilled, foreign labor.

1 comment:

David said...

DMV is a lot like INS now that you mention it. Both are mostly filled with unaware and overworked employees. There are exceptions of course.

I couldn't agree with you more about the H-1B increase. Or at least some sort of increase in visas for skilled workers. I am probably biased (immigration lawyer...), but it does seem irrational to have so many high quality universities filled with talented grad students, only to discourage them from staying here afterwards. Especially engineers and scientists. We should be rolling out the red carpet. They don't take jobs. They create them.