Increased federal government scrutiny of immigration sponsors in the Korean community

The Federal government has sharpened its investigation of immigration sponsors, especially for Korean immigration. Regulations concerning sponsorship have become more detailed and complicated.

Korean business owners and religious institutions, both of which sponsor Korean immigrants as well as the applicants sponsored, are coming under closer scrutiny—and visas are increasingly rejected.

Immigration law experts report that the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. immigration services are increasingly directly visiting sponsors, such as churches and restaurants to investigate their companies or organizations.

Immigration law expert, Tong-gyu Pak said, “In the past, the U.S. immigration services confirmed the employee’s situation by phone. Now, this year they have changed their method of investigation and begun direct visits, for instance, of religious organizations. Applicants should be very careful—direct checking makes it very easy to determine the falsity of an applicant’s report.”

The U.S. immigration services is also closely checking the economic capacity of business owners to support immigration applicants, determining whether the prospective employee can truly be hired or not, especially in the cases of small-sized restaurants sponsoring immigration applicants. This means it will be virtually impossible for businesses that have not filed tax returns, or filed erroneous returns, to act as sponsors in the future.

The Labor Department cited the case of a Washington D.C. immigration lawyer, who, last year, helped employee visa applicants file false or incorrect applications for sponsorship in the restaurant industry. This case also influenced the immigration services’ decision to directly check restaurants to determine the correctness of the applications, and the sponsor’s ability to employ the applicant.

Suk-hee Kang, the director of the New York Korean Immigration Service Center, said, “In the past, the government allowed illegal immigrants, already in the United States, to apply for green cards under Article 245 (I). Many people having become legal, tried to become sponsors for employment visa applicants. The majority of business owners were simply not qualified as sponsors; so many were rejected. The Department of Labor learned from this experience and no longer easily issues visas. Sponsors who even marginally lack qualifications are now rejected.”

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