I discovered that an employee of mine can't actually work in the U.S. legally. Can I sponsor an illegal worker for a visa or green card?

This is becoming an increasingly common occurrence, as companies often want to understand the full gamut of their options to retain their good employees. The short answer is that, yes, you may sponsor someone for a visa or green card who is not authorized to work in the U.S., but there are roadblocks that make this difficult under current federal immigration laws.

Specifically, under current immigration laws they can't work for you while they are illegal, even if the application to allow them to work in this country is pending. Moreover, because it can take so long (sometimes years) for undocumented people to receive visas or green cards it might not be feasible for your company to wait that long to lawfully employ them. Because they worked illegally in the U.S. there is also the chance that they are barred from reentering the country for some period of time and might be prohibited from actually receiving the green card or visa.

 
 
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