As Baby Boomers generation will retire over the next 20 years, immigrants will be crucial to filling these job openings and promoting growth of the labor market.
From 2020 to 2030, 7 million U.S.-born individuals, are expected to leave the labor force and 2 million immigrants and 6.9 million children of immigrants are projected to join the labor force during the same period. (Credit: American Progress).
So how do you take advantage of this incredible opportunity? Answer- join the workforce! This post will focus on:
Five Actions you need to take, before you apply for a job in America:
- Assess your American English skills
- Receive Employment Authorization Document
- Secure reliable Transportation
- Get your Driver license
- Line up your Professional References
American English Skills
Challenge: Poor English language skills. The truth is- your language skills will define every single aspect of your existence in America. In fact, this one single skill will have the biggest impact on your salary and therefore on your standard of living, then any other skill. The better your English the better employment opportunities you will be able to secure.
As a language learner you will need to master the following separate skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Where most of us, immigrants, face the biggest challenge is listening and speaking. Chances are, even if you hold a degree English and studied languages for quite some time, you might find it difficult to understand Americans.
Solution: You must commit to learn English, most likely this will take some time. The first step you can take to get ready is to assess your current English level. Don`t assume anything test your skills today. Read post Three steps to improve your English skills to see more details. Once you know what you current level is you will be able to make a determination about the types of jobs you could qualify for.
Employment Authorization Document
Challenge: Work Permit. Working without Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is illegal and you, as an employee and your employer can have serious legal consequences by not following the law. I will start by saying that I am not an immigration attorney and therefore cannot give any legal advice.
Please refer for legal details to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) web-site for details, since each visa type has different documentation and application filing requirements. According to USCIS web-site, to work in the United States, you must have one of the following:
- A Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card),
- An Employment Authorization Document(work permit), or
- An employment-related visa which allows you to work for a particular employer
After you file all the paperwork, the processing may take anywhere from 45-180 days. Again, please check USCIS web-site from details.
Solution: learn about filing requirements and file EAD paperwork with USCIS as soon as possible. Read more about the rules and filing guidelines applicable to some major visa types below.
Employment Authorization Document Filling Rules
U.S. employers must check to make sure all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are allowed to work in the United States. Having an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is one way to prove that you are allowed to work in the United States for a specific time period.
To request an EAD, you must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. You will need to apply for an EAD if you:
- Are authorized to work in the United States because of your immigration status (for example, you are an asylee, refugee, or U nonimmigrant) and need evidence of that employment authorization, or
- Are required to apply for permission to work; in other words, you need to request employment authorization itself. For example:
- You have a pending Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
- You have a pending Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.
- You have a nonimmigrant status that allows you to be in the United States but does not allow you to work in the United States without first seeking permission from USCIS (such as an F-1 or M-1 student).
You do not need to apply for an EAD if you are a lawful permanent resident. Your Green Card (Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card) is evidence of your employment authorization. You also do not need to apply for an EAD if you have a nonimmigrant visa that authorizes you to work for a specific employer (for example, you have an H-1B, L-1B, O, or P visa).
Challenge: No personal transportation or not access to public transportation. You may wonder why we discuss transportation as one of the prerequisites for your Job Readiness. The reason is many employers, directly on your job application will inquire whether you have a reliable transportation to get to your job. The key word is reliable. If someone, a friend or a relative, once in a while gives you a lift, that does not qualify. Uber is also not a permanent solution, but it could be a temporary buffer.
Since public transportation in America is not very developed, unless you live in a large city, you will need to work on a solution to get yourself to work. Universal advice to everyone who is new to driving a car- look for jobs either within a walking or a very short driving distance from your home. This simple step will save you gas money and reduce your stress levels.
Solution: consider buying a used car, ask a spouse or a relative to be your driving mentor. Start learning how to drive as soon as possible. It is scary at first, but it does get easier with practice. There is not a lot of permanent solutions to transportation challenge outside of buying a car and start studying for a driver`s license.
Challenge: No drivers license. The matter of fact is driver license in America is not just a document that will allow you to operate a vehicle. Driver license also serves as a state issued Identification Document (aka ID). Employers also might device to use driver license number to run your background check.
Additionally, very few employers have solid understanding or received a proper training on immigration related topics. Because of lacking awareness employers tend to prefer applications with state issued ID (aka driver license) and when you pull your foreign passport they simply get confused and distracted. Employers will prefer a candidate with driver license, considering all other things held equal
Solution: Even if you hold a foreign-issued international driver license, I would highly recommend considering getting a new one, issued by your state of residence. Visit Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) web-site to gather details on your state`s requirements related to driver license exam tests and requirements. Each state is different, and some state exams are easier than others. Check with your city`s DMV office to gather most up to date information.
Additionally, some states offer a State ID card, in addition to driver license card, which may help you in job application process and may be used as a buffer before you pass driver license and driving tests.
Challenge: Typically, as a part of the application process your employer will request you to provide contact information of three professional references or your former employers/colleagues. This can be hard to furnish, since most of your colleagues and managers most-likely were Russian-speaking associates. The reason employers require references is to validate your identity and verify your employment history.
Employer most likely will require the following Professional References contact information:
- Full legal name
- Title and relationship to a job applicant
- Current company name
- Phone number and email address
Solution: First, let`s understand who can be listed as a professional reference. You can not use your family members including spouses. You can however list your friends, who speak English, to be contacted on your behalf.
One of great ways to build your reference network is volunteering, attending church or school in America. Ask your volunteering coordinator or your church friend to support your strive for a career advancement and most likely they will agree to be your reference.
Rules of professional conduct require you to give an advanced notice to all your references right after your Information Interview. Typically, a warning message to your references should include the following information: type of a job, approximate call date, company name, human resource manager name that may contact them.
Lastly, I recommend typing up all your references on one page and save it as Word document on your desktop. That way all your information is organized and available.
Assessing your current English language skills, getting your EAD, resolving transportation challenge, acquiring driver license, and lining up your references can save you weeks of frustration and wasted time and effort during job search process. I sincerely hope that this article will assist you to get Job Ready and take advantage of the incredible Labor Force gap in America, that will present itself in the next 10-20 years.
After I arrived to U.S. in November of 2003 I started learning more about Job Readiness Requirements. I will be honest here- my English was terrible, and I could not even pass my first interview. To mitigate the challenge, I started to study at home and eventually decided to got back to college.
Only 10 months after my arrival to U.S. I got my Employment Authorization Document, not sure why it took so long. When the card arrived in the mail, I was one of the happiest people and immediately started applying for jobs.
Transportation was a huge challenge, since I arrived in November and had no way commute, unless my spouse drove me places. It got old fast and I started considering a more permanent solution. Driving a car was a challenge as well. My spouse tried to teach me to drive stick shift and that did not work out, but I loved driving automatic and in a few short months started driving a car on my own.
It was super exciting to be able to go anywhere I wanted by myself! My Driver license test was a bust, I did not pass five out of 25 questions. I am still puzzled why they give me a pass on the test.
Since I did not know anyone, I did not have a single person I could list as Professional References, it took me years to form relationships with people who agreed to be on my list.
Now I know everything I had to work through happened for a reason, but while I was in the middle of it was, honestly, hard and very confusing. My goal is to help YOU to avoid the mistakes I made and gather everything you will need before start your search and application process.
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