New Immigration Act

Horse farm employees across the country can take advantage of the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (LIFE Act). The LIFE Act allows illegal residents of the United States to file a labor certificate application, which among other things makes them eligible for permanent resident status. Interested employees can qualify by filing an application with the Department of Labor no later than April 30, 2001. Labor certification requires the employee to have been in this country on or before Dec. 21--the date the reinstatement became effective.

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association sponsored a workshop Feb. 26 with equine attorney Bing Bush Jr. and Suze Maze, an employee of Backside Connections, outlining the process of the LIFE Act and the reinstatement of Section 245 (i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

"There has been a tremendous influx of immigrant workers from Mexico and other countries," said Bush, who practices in California and Kentucky. "The LIFE Act will assist over 700,000 immigrants working in this country."

Section 245 (i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows people who qualify for permanent residency--but are ineligible to adjust status in the United States because of an immigration status violation--to pay a $1,000 penalty to continue processing. Eligibility for the LIFE Act requires the person to be a beneficiary of an immigrant petition or application for certification.

Farm owners or managers seeking labor certification for employees are required to file a petition, either themselves or through an agent or attorney, with their local Department of Labor describing the position they are attempting to fill. The department then determines if the description contains restrictive requirements only the foreign worker could meet. The average cost of filing a labor certification application is between $300-$500.

If the description is approved, the farm advertises the job for one weekend in two locations, with one being a national print magazine or newspaper soliciting resumes. The advertisement will also be placed in the department's national job data bank.

The farm is required to interview every qualified applicant. If someone other than the foreign worker fills the position, the labor certification must be withdrawn.

Following the interview and hiring process, a report explaining why each candidate was not hired is sent to the Department of Labor. If no one other than the foreign worker applied, the local Department of Labor will send the petition, the advertisement, and the list of applicants to the regional office for final determination of the position. It could take between six months to one year before the labor certification is issued.

If the labor certification is issued, the employee is eligible to apply for an I-140, or an immigrant petition for an alien worker. The I-140 takes two to five years to complete and provides the employee a Social Security number. It also allows them to apply for a permit to travel outside the United States. There is a $115 filing fee for the I-140. If approved, the worker can then apply for an adjustment of status or permanent residency (I-485). There is a $220 filing fee plus the $1,000 penalty for entering the country illegally.

Bush said the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) can't use the information provided in the application against employees or employers seeking labor certification. "If the INS could use this information against anyone, then no one would apply. They are not going to come to anyone's farm and take their labor force away or fine any farm owners."

About the Author

Leslie Deckard

Leslie Deckard is a former staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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