Foreign workers face stress as unemployment rises
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — For foreign professionals, the rising unemployment rate is especially daunting.
Laid-off foreign workers are scrambling for temporary visas and seeking advice from immigration attorneys about how long they can legally stay in the country while hunting for jobs.
Even some foreigners here on visas or work permits are switching employers, fearing that an unstable job during a recession could ultimately lead to a one-way ticket home or kill their chance of getting a green card.
Thirty-eight-year-old Caron Traub of South Africa panicked after losing her job as a business development manager for an envelope manufacturer. With plans for an April wedding in Atlanta to her Canadian fiance, who has a green card, Traub worried that she could be forced to leave the country before then and be unable to get back in.
"It's very scary stuff," said Traub, who applied for a temporary visa to stay in the country legally and look for a job.
An undetermined number of foreign workers have been casualties of the recession, which pushed the nationwide jobless rate to 6.7 percent in November, a 15-year high. Economists expect the jobless rate will continue to climb through much of 2009 and could surpass 8 percent.
Foreign residents with valid visas that authorize them to work in the United States can qualify for jobless benefits if they meet the requirements of the state in which they file, according to the Labor Department.