Nuestra Comunidad: Entrepreneurs seek to increase Hispanic workforce

Despite the challenging times that the immigrant community in the United States currently faces, Latino entrepreneurs are not giving up. The Hispanic population continues to grow, and this demographic’s workforce is essential in the development of their businesses and the overall economy of the country.

That is why it is vital to take advantage of existing resources such as H-2B Visas, which permit users to legally live and work in the U.S. on a temporary basis.

The number of these types of visas issued each year is limited, however, which makes them difficult to obtain.

The Georgia Hispanic Construction Association recently offered a workshop at the Latin American Association, with the goal of providing guidance to local entrepreneurs seeking more information regarding H-2B Visas.

The event’s purpose was to explain the program’s necessary requirements and to clarify doubts as to who can and cannot come to the country legally to work.

“The visa requirement process isn’t all that broad, and it’s complicated for a lot of people, but that’s just because they don’t truly know the process. One of those requirements is that [the employer] have a legally registered company in the United States and that they have a way to prove to the Department of Labor and to immigration authorities the necessity of bringing in foreigners to legally work during certain seasons,” explained Laura Hernández, a representative from Southeast Contracting Services, a company that has 30 years of experience specializing in the processing of these types of visas.

Hernández added that in order to apply for an H-2B Visa, the request must be made by the employer, not the worker.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the visa does not include farming or agricultural workers.

“The main industries we see are construction, food, fishery, landscaping and hospitality,” explained Hernández.

According to the U.S. Government Publishing Office, applicants must be a citizen of one of the following countries to qualify for an H-2B Visa: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru.

“Every year the number of counties changes,” said Hernández. “It all depends on immigration authorities.”

Hernández, whose company is based in Texas, added that workers typically find out about these positions through employers.

For Roberto Salomón, of the Salomon Group, a company which specializes in the importation and exportation of construction materials, the Hispanic workforce is essential for businesses such as his.

“It’s very important to find out all the ways to help the Hispanic community. I think it’s important to give the necessary information to the community to increase the Hispanic workforce, which is so important in this state. I think we need to have the correct information because a lot of people can’t obtain these kinds of benefits because they don’t know about them,” explained Salomón.

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