More than three years and 6 million jobs later, the restaurant industry reached a milestone in September when employment completed its climb all the way back to pre-pandemic levels.
But with the demand for workers remaining high and growing — openings in the combined restaurants and accommodations sector topped 1 million in August — food service companies must be innovative and think outside the box in addressing the chronic challenges of hiring and retaining workers, according to global employment expert John Dorer.
Dorer, CEO of eb3.work, points to a unique U.S. government work visa program that more and more restaurant franchisees are discovering as an effective tool to find qualified and committed employees. Through the EB-3 green card program, companies can sponsor foreign national workers seeking U.S. permanent residence who are eager to find employment.
“The EB-3 worker visa is becoming an increasingly popular solution as employers face major demographic headwinds, including more U.S. workers retiring than entering the workforce,” Dorer said. “The program creates opportunities for franchisees to access a global talent pool by connecting them with eligible foreign national workers to fill vacancies, reduce staff turnover and improve overall business stability.”
Dorer’s firm recruits and screens foreign workers willing to make the investment to live and work in the U.S., then the eb3.work team of immigration attorneys takes them through the green card process so they arrive as permanent residents ready to start work.
While the process may seem daunting, he said, the eb3.work team guides businesses through the application process and navigates the complexities of immigration law.
EB-3 Work Visa Process
The EB-3 visa is part of the United States’ employment-based immigration system. EB-3, short for “Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference,” is aimed at skilled workers, professionals and sub-skilled workers performing jobs for which qualified workers are not available in the U.S.
The EB-3 is a three-step process involving the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Employers first file a Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) labor certification with the DOL to demonstrate that there are insufficient available, qualified and willing U.S. workers to fill the position, and that hiring the foreign national workers will not adversely affect U.S. workers’ wages and working conditions.
Once the certification is approved, employers can then file an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) with USCIS on behalf of the worker.
Finally, once the applicant’s priority date is current, the applicant can apply for the final permanent residence card (green card) either within the United States or at a U.S. embassy outside the U.S.
Throughout this process, eb3.work offers extensive support, Dorer said, including providing an immigration attorney to manage the application, preparing all necessary documents, and coordinating communication between all parties. The service also helps employers navigate the PERM certification.
The EB-3 program presents distinct advantages for franchisees, Dorer said:
- Access to global talent: Franchises can hire skilled and unskilled labor from abroad, increasing their potential talent pool significantly.
- Reduced turnover: EB-3 workers are more likely to stay with their sponsoring employers long-term, as changing employers mid-process can risk their green card application. This creates a more stable workforce and reduces turnover.
- Business stability: A steady, reliable workforce enables business stability, allowing franchises to focus on growth and development.
- Cultural diversity: Hiring international workers can enrich the franchise’s cultural diversity, providing a broader range of perspectives and experiences, and enhancing the overall business environment.
“Having the ability to recruit and retain capable and eager employees will only become more important for restaurant franchisees as the industry seeks to grow and the U.S. labor pool continues to shrink,” Dorer said. “The EB-3 green card program is a lasting solution to a long-term challenge.”
Headquartered in New York, N.Y., eb3.work provides employer-sponsored green card solutions for U.S. companies and foreign national workers seeking to work legally in the United States. The company is staffed with immigration attorneys and recruiters and works with employers in multi-unit restaurant groups, restaurant groups and the hospitality industry.