Foreign Workers in the US

By Yenni Djahidin GrowMany people from around the world are seeking jobs in the United States. There are several ways of finding a job here. I'm Steve Ember.And I'm Shirley Griffith. How new immigrants find a job is our report today on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

The United States is an industrial country with a low percentage of people who do not have jobs. The unemployment rate is about four percent. Many American companies have problems finding skilled workers.

Computer software companies, the agriculture industry, hotels and other companies are seeking workers from other countries. For example, Microsoft, I-B-M and many other high technology companies are seeking skilled workers from countries such as India, China, and the Philippines.

The Institute for the Study of International Migration reports there are about four-hundred-twenty-thousand high-tech foreign workers in the United States. The group says the number will rise to almost four-hundred-seventy thousand in the next ten years.The United States Department of Labor is the government agency that deals with employment issues. It reports that there were more than fifteen-million foreign workers in the United States in Nineteen-Ninety-Nine. This is the highest number of foreign workers in seventy years. It is seventeen percent higher than in Nineteen-Ninety-Six.

Immigrants represent twelve percent of all workers in the United States. However, about five-million of these workers are illegal immigrants. They lack official work permits.

Foreign workers have many kinds of jobs. Many have good jobs in science and technology. But many others have difficult jobs with low pay. These jobs include working in meat production centers and on building projects, cleaning hotel rooms and picking fruits and vegetables.Foreigners who want to work in the United States must have a work permit. There are different kinds of work permits. People who have permission to live permanently in the United States are permitted to work. The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service is the government agency that deals with immigrants. It reports that more than six-hundred-thousand people were given permission to live permanently in the United States in Nineteen-Ninety-Eight.

Citizens of other countries also can get a temporary work permit. This lets them live and work in the United States as long as they have a job.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))The Immigration and Nationality Act permits at least one-hundred-forty-thousand immigrants to live in the United States each year based on employment. There are five groups of workers whose immigration to the United States is based on employment. Some of these require a job offer from an employer and official approval by the Labor Department.

The first group is priority workers. These include people with the highest level of ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or sports. They also include extremely successful business leaders, professors, and researchers.The second group is foreigners with a special skill or those with special training in the sciences, arts or business. For example, artists and professors can receive a work permit this way.

The third group is professionals and skilled or experienced workers. This group includes people with a special skill who can do work not generally done by Americans. Two examples would be computer programmers and people who work as foreign language broadcasters with the Voice of America. The fourth group is religious workers. Foreigners can ask for a work permit if they plan to work as a clergyman or in another kind of job with a religious organization in the United States.The fifth group is people who create employment and contribute to the economic growth of the United States. Foreigners can ask for a work permit if they want to invest their money in businesses in the United States. Foreign investors are generally required to invest at least one-million dollars. However, they can invest only five-hundred-thousand dollars if they open a business outside a big city or in an area of high unemployment.

A foreign investor may either create a new business or buy an existing business. The business must create at least ten full-time jobs for American citizens or other people who have permits to work in the United States.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Foreign college students can also get work permits. The student will need a permit from the college or university before starting to look for a job. Usually, students are permitted to work as many as twenty hours a week during the school term. In the summer months or during holiday periods, they may work as much as forty hours a week. Many college or university students decide to work in eating places, book stores or other businesses at their school.People with work permits can find jobs in several ways. For example, they can look at job listings in newspapers. Usually newspapers have detailed listings of job openings on Saturdays or Sundays. For example, the Washington Post has a special section for job listings.

The newspaper divides the job listings into several different areas, including technology, education and health. Technology jobs, for example, include many jobs with Internet companies.

Education jobs includes teaching positions at schools --- from schools for very young children to universities. The newspaper lists many health care jobs, such as working as a nurse in a hospital or taking care of older people.Many people use computers to look for job openings on the Internet. For example, one Internet web site has a lot of information about finding a job in the United States. It also has information on how to ask for a work permit. It is called Immigrationlink-Dot-Com.

Another Internet web site is called Monster-Dot-Com. It lists thousands of jobs in the United States and around the world. People can use this web site to find a job in the area where they want to work. They can also compare pay for the same job in different places.If job seekers can not find the job they want, they can publish their job requirements on the Internet. For example, a health care worker can list his or her work experience and training on the Internet. So, a company interested in that person can communicate directly with him or her.

Many people find jobs by sending letters to employers or talking directly with them. Another way to find a job is by looking for announcements of job openings at the work place. For example, many stores and eating places put "help wanted" signs on their windows. So, if a person is interested in the job, he or she can apply directly.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Many American companies require some kind of test for employment candidates. There are several kinds of tests, from simple questions to discussions with a company representative. Many stores require a test to investigate the honesty of future workers.

However, some foreign workers say they failed an employment test because they did not understand the questions. For example, an Indonesian student living in the state of Virginia recently took an employment test. He said he was told to answer one-hundred questions in one hour. He failed the test. He said he needed more time to understand the questions.Many companies offer training for their new employees. Usually, the company pays the employees during the training period. In many companies, employees may join a labor union to represent them. The union negotiates with the employer. The union offers help to workers when they need it. For example, a worker can ask help from the union if he or she is dismissed.

Working in the United States is the goal for many people from other countries. Experts say people should get as much information as possible about working in the United States. They say a good place to start is by asking the American Embassy or diplomatic office for more information.

(THEME)This program was written by Yenni Djahidin Grow. It was produced by Cynthia Kirk. I'm Steve Ember.And I'm Shirley Griffith. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.