Jobs in the USA

by Jose Marc Castro on August 8, 2007

Foreign workers in the US are classified as green card holders or guest workers. Green card holders are permanent residents who intend to live and work in the U.S. for good. Guest workers are temporary residents in the U.S. who are in the country either illegally or legally through temporary Work Visas. The issue of guest workers has stirred up a lot of controversy.  Labor unions and similar groupings believe that the entry of large numbers of foreign workers has impacted negatively on  the employment of local labor. They believe that there are no actual labor shortages and that the real reason behind “importation” of foreign workers is the fact that they are willing to receive lower wages and less benefits. Employers, on the other hand, warn against the possibility of economic growth being curtailed by lack of certain sectors of skilled and unskilled workers.

Jobs in the U.S.A.

The national debate is far from being resolved.  However, it is a fact that foreign workers have been entering the U.S. legally in increasing numbers this past decade.  The number of legal permanent residents grew from 100,000 in 1994 to 250,000 in 2005.  However, if you are set on working in the US, you can do it if you can find an employer who has received clearance to employ foreign workers either temporarily or permanently, and is willing to sponsor you and facilitate your Work Visa.

Moving to the U.S.

Foreign workers from countries like Australia and England will probably not find it too difficult to adjust to US conditions and lifestyle, especially since they speak the same language.  It will be more difficult for foreign workers from developing countries who may come from agricultural communities, find it difficult to communicate in English, and belong to different ethnic and religious groupings. It would help if they can relocate to communities with expatriates from the same country or from similar backgrounds.  

However, this may not always be possible.  One of the best preparations for life in the US is to learn English since not too many Americans speak other languages aside from English. Foreign workers with relatives in the US should make full use of their experience in adjusting to the U.S.  All permanent and temporary residents should come armed with all the papers they need, including school records, driving licenses, and employment contracts.

Typical Job Prospects in the USA

If you are sponsored by an employer, your job is already predetermined to a large extent by your work visa.  It can be in agricultural  or non-agricultural sectors, or in special skilled occupations.  Otherwise, local employment conditions and your experience and educational qualifications will determine the kind of jobs you will be able to get.

Typical Salaries and Benefits in the USA

Employers who apply for foreign labor certifications must pay the prevailing wage, that is, the average wage paid to other workers in the same occupation and  same area where the foreign workers will be deployed. They are also required to implement all labor laws and regulations related to labor.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, production workers worked an average of 33.8 hours a week and earned  an average of $17 an hour or $ 561.00 a week.  A survey of   technical workers in five countries showed that the average annual salary in the US was $62,000 for the IT sector.

Basic Data on Taxes in the USA

Foreign workers can be classified as resident or nonresident aliens for tax purposes. You are a resident alien if you have a green card or you have stayed in the US for at least 31 days of the current year plus 183 additional days during the current year and two past calendar years.  If you are not a US citizen, if you do not have a green card and have not passed the “substantial presence” test, then you are a nonresident alien. Resident aliens must pay US  taxes on their global income. They must use Form 1040 to report their taxable income plus whatever deductions and exemptions are allowable by US law and treaties.

High Demand Jobs in the USA

The Bureau of Labor Services provided a list of the 20 fastest growing occupations in the country:  home health aides; network systems and data communications analysts; medical assistants; physician assistants; computer software engineers and applications; physical therapist assistants; dental hygienists; computer software engineers; dental assistants; personal and home care aides; network and computer systems administrators; database administrators; physical therapists; forensic science technicians; veterinary technologists and technicians; diagnostic medical sonographers; physical therapist aides; occupational therapist assistants; medical scientists; occupational therapists.

BLS also provided a list of the 20 top paying jobs in the U.S and their annual salaries:  Anesthesiologists, $145,600; Internists, $145,600; Obstetricians and Gynecologists, $145,600; Oral and maxillofacial surgeons,  $145,600; Orthodontists, $145,600; Prosthodontists, $145,600; Psychiatrists, $145,600 Surgeons, $145,600; Other Physicians and Surgeons, $143,500; Chief Executives, $142,400; Family/General Practitioners, $140,400; Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers, $138,200; Pediatricians, $136,600; Dentists, General, $125,300; Air Traffic Controllers, $107,600; Astronomers, $104,700;  Engineering Managers, $ 100,800; Podiatrists, $100,500;Lawyers, $98,900; Judges and Magistrates, $97,600.

Immigration and Visa Issues in the USA

US employers are allowed to hire foreign workers if they can show that there are no qualified U.S. workers that can fill positions, that these positions are essential to the national economy, and that hiring foreign workers  for said positions will not have negative effects on US workers.  After getting the certification, employers also have to arrange Work Visas for their prospective employees.

The Work Visa allows foreign workers to immigrate to the U.S. for employment purposes. It can take the form of an E-3 visa, a special arrangement that allows entry of Australian citizens and signed into law in 2005.  The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa, which allows US employers to hire, on a temporary basis, foreign workers who are qualified for “specialty occupations” such as accounting, law, and medicine.  The L-1 visa is also a non-immigrant visa effective generally for a period of three years.  It is usually given to employees of multinational companies, which have offices both in their home countries and in the U.S., or are going to open a U.S. office in addition to its home office. The L-1 visa can be used to get a Green Card later on.

The Department of Labor can issue a permanent labor certification, which allows the employer to hire foreign workers on a permanent basis and get them Permanent Work Visas.  The H-2A agricultural program allows employers to hire foreign agricultural workers on a temporary basis through an H-2A Work Visa. The H-2B Certification on the other hand provides for hiring of temporary foreign workers for non-agricultural work.

Best Job Locations in the USA

This year, Forbes Magazine compiled a list of 100 best cities for jobs, using 2003-2006 data on job growth and income growth plus median household income and cost of living. Raleigh, North Carolina topped the list, with its low unemployment rate, large increases in income and available jobs, high incomes and a relatively reasonable cost of living. Among states, Florida was number one, with five of its cities in the top 25 slots. Opportunities for highly educated professionals can still be found in New York and Los Angeles but big cities in general face problems such as unemployment and a high cost of living.  

Forbes’ 25 top cities for jobs are:  Raleigh-Cary, NC; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ; Jacksonville, FL;  Orlando-Kissimmee, FL; Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV; Salt Lake City, UT; Honolulu, HI; Las Vegas-Paradise, NV; Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, FL; Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC; Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick, MD; Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, FL; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL; Richmond, VA; Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA; West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach, FL; Little Rock-North Little Rock, AR; Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro, TN; Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA; Tucson, AZ; Oklahoma City, OK; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA; Austin-Round Rock, TX; and Albuquerque, NM Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA. You can look up the complete listing of 100 cities with all details in the Forbes website.

Find Jobs via Websites in the USA

Jobseekers can find useful information in the following websites:
America’s Career InfoNet
America’s Service Locator
USA Jobs
Career Guide to Industries
Employment Opportunities at the Department of Labor
Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Occupational Outlook Quarterly
ODEP Job Links
Office of Workforce Security: Labor Exchange
One-Stop Career Centers

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