Tag Archives: INA

Podcast – Employment Authorizations for Immigrants: Who Qualifies and How to Apply?| LEGAL THOUGHTS

Published August 4, 2020

Podcast - Employment Authorizations for Immigrants: Who Qualifies and How to Apply?| LEGAL THOUGHTS

Legal Thoughts is a podcast presentation by Coleman Jackson, P.C., a law firm based in Dallas, Texas serving individuals, businesses, and agencies from around the world in taxation, litigation, and immigration legal matters.

This particular episode of Legal Thoughts is a podcast where the Attorney, Coleman Jackson is being interviewed by Mayra Torres, the Public Relations Associate of Coleman Jackson, P.C.

The topic of discussion is “Employment Authorizations for Immigrants: Who Qualifies and How to Apply?” You can listen to this podcast by clicking here: 

You can also listen to this episode and subscribe to Coleman Jackson, P.C.’s Legal Thoughts podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Cashbox or wherever you may listen to your podcast.


ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson
Legal Thoughts

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson

Welcome to Immigration Thoughts

  • My name is Coleman Jackson and I am an attorney at Coleman Jackson, P.C., a taxation, litigation, and immigration law firm based in Dallas, Texas.
  • Our topic for today is: “Employment Authorizations for Immigrants: Who Qualifies and How to Apply?”
  • Other members of Coleman Jackson, P.C. are Yulissa Molina, Tax Legal Assistant, Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant and Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate.
  • On this “Legal Thoughts” podcast our law firm’s Public Relations Associate, Mayra Torres will be asking the questions and I will be giving the answers as she and I will be discussing: “Employment Authorizations for Immigrants: Who Qualifies and How to Apply?”

Mayra Torres Introduces Herself to the Audience:

  • Hi everyone, I am Mayra. I am the Public Relations Associate at the tax, litigation and immigration law firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. Right here in Dallas, Texas.
  • Now Attorney: this is a follow up on a podcast that we did a couple of weeks ago where you and I were discussing “Green Cards & Work Permits” during this dread…………full pandemic!
  • Let’s go deeper into immigrants and work authorizations in the U.S. First of all:
  • What are the different types of work permits and who qualifies to work in the United States?

Attorney Answers Question 1:

  • Wow Mayra; that is a gigantic question since there are over 50 or 60 different categories of work authorizations defined in the U.S. Immigration Nationality Act, or INA, 8 United States Code. Each of these categories apply to different categories of immigrants, non immigrants, and their family members. Each category has different qualifying criteria. The duration for each category may also differ depending upon the specific authorizing provision of the INA.
  • We might have to address your question in several separate podcast over the next few weeks or even months. Interested listeners should subscribe to our podcast. For now, I intend to cover maybe 10 categories of work permits in this particular podcast. And for the most part I will merely mention the technical references to the applicable INA Section numbers authorizing the particular work permit category. I will also try to leave out the legal jargon and speak in ordinary language to see if I can explain work authorizations so that normal people can understand the different categories of work permits and their specific qualifying requirements.

Mayra Comments on That Approach

  • Oh exactly attorney. Its best to explain this in simple, easy to understand words;so that, people can follow along and understand what you are saying; you know! I mean …talk in language that regular people can understand.
  • And oh yeah; we can have a series of conversations on this topic in future podcast. Anyone who wants to know more about work permits for immigrants can subscribe to our law firm’s podcasts. Okay let’s go… my first question is this:
  • What are the different types of work permits and who qualifies?

Attorney Continues with Answer of Question1:

  • I am going to start by discussing those classes of immigrants who are authorized to be employed in the United States without restrictions as to location or type of employment:
    1. An immigrant who is a Lawful Permanent Resident (with or without conditions pursuant to INA section 216). These are immigrants issued Form I-551 or Green Card by the Department of Homeland Security.
    2. An immigrant who is a lawful temporary resident of the U.S. pursuant to INA section 245A or section 210 of the Immigration Nationalization Act. These temporary residents of the U.S. have been issued an EAD or Employment Authorization Document.
    3. An immigrant who has been paroled into the U.S. under INA section 207 as refugee.Refugees in the U.S. have been issued an EAD or Employment Authorization Document.
    4. An immigrant who has been granted asylum under INA section 208. Asylum seekers whose applications have been pending for more than 90 days can also be granted a work authorization while their asylum applications are pending decision at the Asylum Office.
    5. An immigrant who has been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under INA section 244 has been issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
    6. Any immigrant who has been granted U-1 crime victims status pursuant to 8 CFR 214.4 are issued a work authorization so long as they are in that status.
    7. Any immigrant who has been granted VAWA status under the Violence Against Women’s Act has the authority to work in the United States as long as they are in that status.
  • All immigrants who are authorized employment incident to their status, must apply to U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a work authorization with the exception of the Green Card holder and the immigrant granted VAWA status; a VAWA self-petitioner can request authorization to work directly on the Form I-360 Petition. And Green Card Holders or Lawful Permanent Residents have the authority to work anywhere.
  • Again, all work permits discussed so far falls into the category where the immigrant can be employed in the United States without restrictions as to location or type of employment. They can work anywhere. Now less turn to the category of work authorization which are restrictive as to location and employer.

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

Question 2:

  • You mean some immigrants are restricted as to who they can work for and when!
  • What kind of restrictions are we talking about here? You mean there are immigrants who can’t work for anyone they want and anywhere in the United States … they want?

Attorney Answers Question 2:

  • Yes Mayra; that is exactly right. Some immigrants are issued work permits that restrict who they can work for and where they can work in the United States. I am only going to cover about three in this podcast. These are the most popular types; but again, we might revisit this topic in future podcast. For now, I am going to limit my discussions of immigrants who are restricted by law to work for a specific employer or otherwise restricted to employment authorized in the INA to these three:
  • First: A non immigrant treaty trader in the E-1 category and treaty investor in the E-2 category pursuant to INA section 214.2(e) are restricted to working only for the treaty-qualifying company through which they attained their status. They cannot work for anyone else in the United States.
  • Second: A non immigrant student must have a valid F-1 student status and are restricted pursuant to INA section 214.2(f) to working no more than 20 hours per week when the school is in session or full-time when school is not in session if the student intends to and is eligible to register for the next term or session. Moreover, the INA provides that students can engage in employment in the form of curricular practical training (internships, cooperative training programs, or work-study programs which are part of an established school curriculum) after being enrolled as a full-time student for a full academic year. These employment matters are handled on campus by the Designated School Official at the student’s college or university on Form I-20.
  • Third: An intra-company transferee in the L-1 status pursuant to INA section 214.2(l) is authorized to work only for the employer who filed the petition through whom they obtained the L-1 status.An immigrant on L-1 status cannot work for anyone else in the United States. I might add that the type of work they can perform is also restricted to the representations made by their employer in their petition. They must be high-level managerial or executive level individuals coming to the U.S.to oversee some specified areas or providing expertise in growing the domestic enterprise.

Attorney Interview: By Mayra Torres


  • Wow! Attorney thanks for giving such comprehensive overview of these 10 types of work permit categories.
  • I have so many more questions, such as,
    • What is the duration of each one of these work permits that you have discussed; and
    • Whether the immigrant’s family members, such as, their spouse, children, and parents can work too; and
    • How can an immigrant with a work permit get a Green Card (we might have covered that in our previous podcast on Green Cards, but I can’t remember your answer now)?
  • Maybe we can discuss those questions in future podcast or blogs or something.
  • But a big question right now with this pandemic deals with workers getting sick on their jobs.
  • Question number 3 is this one: Undocumented Immigrants are not authorized to work in the United States; so… what if they catch Covid-19 at work and get sick or …worst…dies…. Are they entitled to receive any money for lost wages or earnings?

Attorney Answers Question 3:

  • That is a very complex question and the law could be in flux because of federal, state, or local rules changes being discussed in many circles. These protections could impact whether employees can recover damages of any kind resulting from injuries allegedly sustained as the result of Covid-19.So, I will limit my answer to Texas law pre-Covid 19.
  • Well established law in Texas says that injured workers and/or contractors are not required to be U.S. citizens nor are they required to possess immigration work authorization permits as a prerequisite to recovering damages for lost earning capacity due to injury on the job. There is case law that goes as far back as 1993 that holds this legal principle.
  • But the law in this area could change as law catch up with legislative and other changes at the federal, state, and local level as it pertains to the response to Covid-19. And let me just say, federal law can be an affirmative defense whenever it conflicts with state or local law. So bottom line; the answer to this question is unclear at this time.

Attorney’s Summary:  Coleman Jackson

  • Mayra thanks for asking some very important questions regarding work permits.
  • I know we did not answer all of the questions you might have on this very important immigration topic. We might revisit it in our future blogs, podcast, or videos on our U-Tube Channel. For now,we have to go.

Attorney’s concluding Remarks:


  • Coleman Jackson, Attorney’s concluding remarks:
  • Thanks for giving us the opportunity to inform you about the Immigrant Work Authorizations in the U.S. We might discuss other aspects work permits and their requirements in follow up podcasts or blogs in the near future. If you want to see or hear more taxation, litigation, and immigration LEGAL THOUGHTS from Coleman Jackson, P.C. Subscribe to our podcast and Stay tune! We are here in Dallas, Texas and want to inform, educate, and encourage our communities on topics dealing with taxation, litigation and immigration. Until next time, take care.

Foreign Agricultural H-2A Visa Workers on American Farms During Covid-19 National Emergency

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney & Certified Public Accountant
May 14, 2020

Foreign Agricultural H-2A Visa Workers

The H-2A nonimmigrant visa classification has been around for a very long time.  See Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 101(a)(15)(ii)(a), 8 U.S.C. 1101.  The H-2A foreign agricultural workers visa; known as H-2A is more in the public eye right now due to the media’s focus on the rise of Covid-19 cases in meat packing plants, on farms and in rural America potentially resulting in food supply chain disruptions.  The concern of the coronavirus’ disruption of the food supply is very real and it is of grave concern to the well being of farmers’ bringing their goods to market and to their fellow citizens ability to feed their families.  In a nutshell, the foreign agricultural workers program known as the H-2A Visa permits agricultural employers to fill shortages in the available work force by following certain procedures to lawfully bring foreigners to the United States temporarily to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work.  The Department of Homeland Security defers to the U.S. Department of Labor with respect to defining what work falls into the categories of temporary and seasonal agricultural work.  Historically, the Department of Labor has defined “agricultural labor” as such duties as hauling and delivery on the farm, harvesting, cultivating and planting seed.  Foreign workers on H-2A Visas has historically also worked as sheep herders, goat tenders, cattle raisers, poultry farmers and in other occupations typically in rural areas of America where various kinds of animals are raised for market.  The point is that agricultural workers are not limited to farms performing task around a farm; foreign workers on H-2A Visas work on plantations, ranches, nurseries, meat packing plants, greenhouses, orchards, and as truck drivers and delivery drivers on these or other similar locations.  The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) has defined the term temporary agricultural work as no more than 12 months or employment of a seasonal nature tied to a certain time of the year, event or pattern.


Foreign Agricultural H-2A Visa Workers

There was-and-still-is a very regimented step-by-step process that  agricultural employers must follow to bring foreign farm laborers to work on their farms, ranches, meat packing plants or similar locations; which begins with a petition filed with their state workforce commission; then they go to the DOL for labor certification that there is a lack of available domestic workers to perform the intended project; once the employer receives the DOL Labor Certification they file a request with the Department of Homeland Security; and upon approval, the foreign worker petitions the Consulate’s Office in their country to obtain the H2-A Visa to come to America and work on a specific  temporary or seasonally project for less than 12 months.  The H-2A visa is valid for 3 years.


Foreign Agricultural H-2A Visa Workers

This process has been relaxed and modified somewhat. Covid-19 has created the necessity to impose travel restrictions, stay at home orders and caused lots-and-lots of tremendous pain, loss and suffering throughout the country.  In response to anticipated disruptions and uncertainties in the U.S. food supply and the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 epidemic in rural America; the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published temporary amended regulations regarding temporary and seasonal agricultural workers and their U.S. employers in the H-2A nonimmigrant agricultural workers classification.  These final regulations are published in 85 FR 21739 and is effective from April 20, 2020 through August 18, 2020.The following are the major amendments to the normal process that historically were used by domestic farmers to bring foreign nonimmigrant workers to work temporarily on their farms, ranches, meat packing plants and other similar locations under the H-2A Agricultural Workers program:

  • The H-2A regulations were temporarily amended to permit all H-2A employers to allow nonimmigrants who currently hold a valid H-2A visa status to start working upon the receipt of the employer’s new H-2A petition, but not earlier than the start date of employment listed on their H-2A petition.
  • The H-2A regulations were temporarily amended to permit all H-2A workers to immediately work for any new H-2A employer, but not earlier than the start date of employment listed on the H-2A petition filed during the Covid-19 National Emergency.
  • The H-2A regulations were temporarily amended to create a temporary exception to 8 CFR 24.2 to allow nonimmigrants to extend their H-2A period of stay beyond the three-year limitations without first requiring that the immigrant leave the United States and remain outside of the United States for an uninterrupted period of three months. It is important that an H-2A petition for an extension of stay with a new employer must have been filed with USCIS on or after March 1, 2020 and remain pending as of April 20, 2020.
  • H-4 nonimmigrants who are the spouses and children of an H-2A agricultural worker visa holders are beneficiaries of these same amendments noted in one through three above. H-4 visa holders’ admission and limitations of stay are dependent on the validity of the H-2A visa holders’ status and they must be otherwise admissible.

Moreover, as a practical matter, certain in-person interview requirements at the Consulate Offices have been eased during this Covid-19 National Emergency to facilitate foreign workers traveling into the United States.  H-2A workers fall under the ‘essential worker’ category of critical worker and probably are exempt from the stay-at-home, travel restrictions and other measures imposed by local, state and federal governmental agencies during this Covid-19 National Emergency.


Foreign Agricultural H-2A Visa Workers

Foreign agricultural workers on H-2A visas are subject to the United States federal tax laws but they are exempt from withholding of U.S. federal income taxes, social security taxes and Medicare taxes on compensation paid to them for services performed in connection to their H-2A agricultural worker visa status.  If they receive more than $600 in compensation, the foreign nonimmigrant worker must receive a Form W-2 from their employer which exempts social security and Medicare taxes.  Typically, the worker files Form 1040-NR and the employer must report the wages of its agricultural nonimmigrant workers on Form 943, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees and file all other appropriate tax returns with local, state and federal taxing authorities.   Most of the modified filing, payment and reporting deadlines announced by the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service during this Covid-19 National Emergency applies to H-2A agricultural workers and their employers.

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432