Congress Passes Bill to Study Barriers to Employment for Skilled Immigrants

October 10, 2022

Congress has passed a bill that directs the Labor Department to research obstacles that impede skilled immigrants from securing employment in the United States. The bill, dubbed the Bridging the Gap for New Americans Act (S. 3157), intends to help employers and potential workers by finding and addressing barriers that prevent skilled immigrants from finding work.

S. 3157 cleared the House of Representatives in a 363-52 vote in an expedited process through which it cleared the Senate earlier this year. The bill will require the Labor Department to analyze immigrants’ employment in the U.S. compared with their country of origin.

According to research from the Migration Policy Institute, approximately 2 million immigrants with college degrees cannot use their skills. As such, they are left unemployed or with low-level jobs. This situation is true even for those with skills and experience in fields facing significant issues related to understaffing, such as the healthcare industry.

This issue inflicts high costs on the economy, causing an estimated loss of $10 billion yearly in unrealized taxes on the local, state, and federal levels. Furthermore, it causes a loss of more than $39 billion in wages for college-educated immigrants nationwide. Many factors drive this phenomenon, including language barriers, limitations on recognizing foreign earned certifications and degrees, and a lack of professional networks and assistance finding related positions.

After examining the barriers impeding these immigrants and the cause, the Labor Department must provide Congress with policy recommendations. These recommendations must address these issues, helping workers and the economy to take advantage of their full potential and find employment in their areas of expertise. This update may benefit skilled immigrants seeking gainful employment and employers currently dealing with labor shortages in many sectors.

For employers attempting to hire foreign national workers, the documentation requirements to prove employment eligibility can often prove confusing. This confusion can make it challenging to maintain compliance with Form I-9 requirements. With the laws and regulations about the employment eligibility verification process continuously changing and the documentation requirements often becoming a minefield for litigation for many employers, it is crucial to ensure your process remains compliant.One of the best ways to help ensure your business remains compliant is by using an electronic I-9 management system. This tool can guide employers through every step and ensure that documentation and forms are secure and on hand for review and updates.

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