The energy sector is pivotal in driving economic growth, ensuring energy security, and addressing climate change. According to the US Energy Employment Report, the energy industry employed approximately 6.8 million Americans, or nearly five percent of the US workforce, in 2019.
However, employers in this industry often don’t sponsor green cards for their skilled foreign workers, typically due to the considerable investment of time and money required. This means that employees don’t have the security of knowing they can remain in the country long term, and often have to leave once their work permit expires. It also poses broader macroeconomic challenges for the US.
This article looks at the potential economic repercussions tied to this problem and explores the self-petition options that allow skilled workers in the energy sector to obtain permanent residency in the US without employer sponsorship.
Let’s dive in.
What are the challenges facing the energy sector?
Though the US is a leader in the production and supply of energy and is one of the world’s largest energy consumers, there are some issues that stem from the reluctance to sponsor foreign workers. From employee retention to meeting the labor demands in both traditional and sustainable energy sectors, here are some of the key issues we have identified.
1. Talent retention
Employees on temporary work visas eventually hit a roadblock, and have to leave once their visas expire, taking with them valuable skills and experience that are crucial for the industry’s advancement. They may also choose to move to countries where there are more favorable immigration options for foreign workers. Training new employees costs the company’s time and resources so finding a way to retain these foreign workers rather than losing them should be a priority.
2. Labor demand in traditional energy sectors
As the demand for labor surges in oil and gas sectors — from boosting US oil output to pioneering green initiatives like carbon capture and clean up — the inability to retain skilled foreign workers exacerbates the current labor shortage issue. This is ultimately stalling critical projects and production.
3. Sustainable technology labor need
The transition towards cleaner energy as per the Paris Agreement and UN Climate Accords underscores the necessity for adept labor in sustainable technologies like EVs, batteries, and renewable energy sources. Clean energy jobs made up more than 40% of total energy jobs in 2022. The US risks falling behind in the global clean energy race unless it can retain the skilled individuals needed to propel these sectors forward.
US self-petition options for energy workers
Obtaining lawful permanent residence in the US without employer sponsorship can be challenging, but there are options that allow foreign professionals to self-petition bypassing the need for a willing employer.
EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability)
The first option that high-skilled professionals in the energy sector can explore is the EB-1A route — a subgroup of the first preference employment-based visa (EB-1). The individual must have garnered substantial recognition in their field, meeting the criteria outlined by USCIS.
The extraordinary ability category also includes outstanding researchers, certain multinational executives, and managers who can demonstrate their contributions and show evidence that they will continue to work in the area of expertise. This makes it ideal for energy workers who often contribute significantly to emerging technology and research,
This category doesn’t require employer sponsorship, and even if you don’t meet the criteria now, there is a clear pathway to qualifying for the visa. This means the individual can work towards building their recognition in the field while on an H-1B or similar visa.
EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver)
The EB-2 NIW is another viable self-petition option that allows highly skilled individuals to seek a waiver of the labor certification requirements of the EB-2 visa. The EB-2 typically applies to individuals who have an advanced degree (Masters, Ph.D., or equivalent) or exceptional ability, and a job offer.
However, the requirement for an employer can be waived by demonstrating that the proposed work would be in the national interest of the US. This is an ideal fit for professionals working on groundbreaking sustainable energy projects or innovative green technologies that align with the country’s economic and environmental goals.
We can support you with your green card self-petition
The journey to securing permanent residency in the US can be challenging, but there are more options available than many people realize. Extraordinary Immigration offers premier immigration services with an understanding of the particular complexities of the energy sector.
We can offer tailored solutions aligned with your individualized goals, paths, and needs including self-petition pathways such as the EB-1A and EB-2 NIW. We will work closely with you, and your case, from start to finish
For more information, contact us at email@example.com or call us at (305) 391-2105.