March 15, 2001
EMPLOYING FOREIGN MINORS
By: Lynn Marx, Research Attorney
You asked whether 16 and 17 year old high school students from France could work in the United States for 4 to 8 weeks during the summer. The French students would be coming to the United States as part of an exchange program.
In order for the students to lawfully work in the United States, they would have to get a visa and abide by the hour and industry restrictions applicable to minors.
A citizen from another country who wants to temporarily work in the United States must obtain a nonimmigrant visa. There are two types of visas applicable to this situation. The H-2B visa is for temporary or seasonal nonagricultural workers. The “J” visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the United States Department of State.
Connecticut permits the employment of 16 and 17 year olds but limits the hours of employment and prohibits them from engaging in hazardous work.
TEMPORARY ALIEN EMPLOYMENT
H-2B nonimmigrant visa
Under the H-2B nonimmigrant visa classification, aliens may come temporarily to the United States to perform temporary nonagricultural work. In order to obtain an H-2B temporary labor certification, the potential employer must show that the position could not be filled by a full-time employee and involves either a one-time, seasonal, peakload or intermittent need.
The potential employer must first file a labor certification application for temporary employment with the Labor Certification Unit at the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL). The application must include an ETA Form 750 Part A (Attachment 1) and documentation to support the employer's temporary need. Employers should file requests for H-2B Temporary Labor Certifications at least 60 days before they need the labor certification.
DOL makes sure the application is complete and notifies the employer to place a job advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation or ethnic publication as appropriate for the occupation. The recruitment period is a minimum of ten to 20 days depending on the occupation. During this period, the employer must consider all qualified U.S. applicants and must submit documentation of the recruitment results to DOL. When the results are received, DOL forwards the application to the Boston Region of the federal Department of Labor.
The federal Department of Labor issues a decision, usually within 10 to 12 business days from the date it receives the application. The decisions are only advisory opinions to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
Once it receives the labor certification, the employer must file an I-129 petition along with a $110 fee with the INS (Attachment 2). It should file the petition at least 45 days before the employment will begin. The Immigration and Nationality Act places a 66,000 per year limit on the number of aliens who can be admitted to the United States on H-2B visas.
After it approves the I-129 petition, the INS sends a notice of approval (Form I-797). The worker must then apply for a visa at the American embassy or consulate in their country. Each applicant for a temporary worker visa must pay a nonrefundable $45 application fee and submit: (1) an application Form OF-156 (blank forms are available without charge at all U.S. Consular offices), (2) a passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States, (3) one photograph 1 and ½ inches square, and (4) a notice of approval (Form I-797).
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides nonimmigrant categories for persons to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States. The “J” visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the U.S. Department of State. The “J” exchange visitor program is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Employment while in “J” exchange visitor status depends upon the terms of the program. Information about getting an exchange program designation may be obtained from the Exchange Visitor Program Office, U.S. Department of State at (202) 401-9810.
EMPLOYMENT OF MINORS-STATE RULES
The employment of 16 and 17 year old in industries which have been declared hazardous by the DOL or the Department of Public Health is prohibited. (CGS § 31-23(c)). The Department of Public Health does not have a list of hazardous industries. We have attached a list of DOL's hazardous industries and excepted jobs within those industries (Attachment 3).
In addition, minors under 18 cannot operate any elevator that runs at speed greater than 200 feet per minute (CGS § 31-25), or work in any establishment other than a grocery store that has a liquor permit (CGS § 30-90a).
Hours of work
State law limits the hours that minors may work generally according to where they work or the jobs they hold rather than their ages.
Permitted number of hours
During non-school weeks, 16 and 17 year olds are permitted to work 8 hours a day and 6 days (48 hours) per week in restaurants; recreation and amusement establishments; theatres; retail, mercantile, manufacturing, and mechanical establishments; hairdressing shops; bowling alleys; pool halls; and photo galleries.
In general, 16 and 17 year olds may not work in manufacturing, mechanical, and mercantile establishments between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on non-school nights. The law makes exceptions for supermarkets, where they may work until midnight on any non-school night (CGS §31-14).
Sixteen and 17 year olds cannot work for telegraph or messenger services between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. These limits do not apply to services in cities with populations of 20,000 or less (CGS §31-16).
In addition, 16 and 17 year-olds who work in the following establishments may not work between 10 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.: barber, hairdresser, or manicurist shops; bowling alleys; shoeshine parlors; billiard and pool rooms; and photo galleries. Sixteen and 17 year-olds may work until midnight on non-school nights in the following places: amusement and recreational establishments, restaurants, cafes, public dining rooms or theatres (CGS § 31-18).