Law and the Border: Law and U.S. Work Permits for Drivers – Are They Easy to Get?
May 1, 2004
Over the past several months, we have been asked to comment on the legitimacy of some companies that are promoting the availability of U.S. work permits for Canadian drivers. This office has been very objective and plain in its evaluation of U.S.
Over the past several months, we have been asked to comment on the legitimacy of some companies that are promoting the availability of U.S. work permits for Canadian drivers. This office has been very objective and plain in its evaluation of U.S. Immigration opportunities for Canadian drivers. Our conclusion is much different from the one contained in materials forwarded to us recently, as follows: “As a result of the severe shortage of truck drivers in the United States, U.S. companies now have the privilege of hiring drivers from abroad by providing them with U.S. work permits.” The literature goes on to claim that, “Canadian companies can now compete for U.S. freight movement on the same level as American companies.” A reasonable reader would conclude that the typical Canadian driver can easily and quickly obtain work privileges in the U.S.
This type of literature raises some obvious questions. Is this true? Is this legitimate? Has something changed?
We agree with the conclusion that there is a demonstrated shortage of qualified drivers in the U.S., but we disagree with the conclusion that this has resulted in readily available work permits for Canadian drivers. Our analysis and conclusions on this subject are the same as they were last year, five years ago, and 10 years ago. Nothing has changed.
We have not done business with any of the companies promoting work permits for U.S. drivers, so we cannot comment on their legitimacy or effectiveness. Still, we can offer some comments about the literature we reviewed, and some suggestions to those who want to engage their services.
My first reaction, and the one that puts up my “antennas,” is the overall approach. In each of the examples, the literature is more of a sales job than an information piece.
It conveys the impression that the writers know something that no one else knows, and that they have some special insight that no one else has. In fact, I saw one such piece that was distributed at a trucking industry seminar last fall, which suggested that Immigration lawyers are intentionally suppressing or withholding this information from the Canadian trucking industry. Why anyone would or could do so was not answered. In each case, I was concerned that trusting readers would pursue the matter and pay dearly for a process that ultimately would not serve their purposes. The plain truth is that there are no secrets when it comes to availability of U.S. work permits. Literature that entices the reader with a promise of a result, without giving even the basic information about the nature of the work permit involved or the process, is suspect in our opinion.
There certainly are exceptions to every rule, and there are limited circumstances in individual cases where a temporary work permit or a green card could be available. We have covered that subject in the past in this column.
A legitimate company with your interests in mind should be able to provide you with at least the following information before you lay out any fee:
The U.S. Immigration visa category involved, and whether it is a temporary or permanent one.
The basic eligibility requirements.
If temporary, the duration of the work permit, its renewability, the maximum term, and the ability to convert from temporary to “green card” status.
An estimated time frame from application date to having a work permit in hand.
An estimate of the probability of success.
The total cost in terms of legal fees, service fees and government filing fees, and a timeline of when they will be payable.
Whether intentional or not, the materials simplify, or even ignore, some very important legal issues. U.S. work visas are for use in connection with U.S. employers, not Canadian employers.
A Canadian trucking company cannot wave a magic wand and obtain a work permit for its drivers in order to legalize U.S. point-to-point activities. And even if it could, the Canadian carrier would find that in doing so it has established a U.S.-based business.
A Canadian carrier that hires a Canadian worker with a work permit to do domestic U.S. point-to-point moves, exposes itself to a host of other U.S. legal issues, including but not limited to state corporation law, state and federal tax law, Customs law, employment law and related issues.
The bottom line is that a simplistic approach to U.S. work permits is going to backfire.
Decisions of this sort should be made with the assistance of someone who will explain the full picture to you plainly, and not part of salesmanship that promises a secret formula for success.
– Daniel Joyce can be reached at Hirsch and Joyce, Attorneys at Law, at 716-564-2727.