Mitchell Considers EB-3 Visa Program to Boost Dwindling Workforce – Dakota Free Press

EB-5 didn’t work out too well, so let’s try EB-3!

After a decade-plus of selling green cards to investors to get Korean and Chinese capital for CAFOs, ag-industrial projects, and the Deadwood Mountain Grand Casino, South Dakota ended up with one EB-5 pusher dead, its EB-5 chief convicted of a felony, and the federal government’s verdict that South Dakota was too corrupt to use the perpetually troubling visa-investment program.

Rather than trying again to sell visas to rich foreign investors in hopes that their money would build viable job-supporting businesses, employers in Mitchell and elsewhere in South Dakota are recruiting immigrants who will work for their visas under the EB-3 program:

In an attempt to fill worker shortages Mitchell businesses are grappling with, the Mitchell Area Development Corporation is calling on a recruiting company to bring legal immigrants to fill jobs.

Leaders of job recruiting company Kennedy Access pitched their services Wednesday in front of a group of local business leaders, school administrators and city officials. Through its EB3 program, the company recruits immigrants from a variety of countries seeking to work in the U.S. and assists them in their journey by facilitating legal entrance and attaining a green card.

Julian Chung, director of Kennedy Access, touted the company’s services for bringing businesses “excellent workers” who aspire to “stay and be permanent” U.S. citizens.

“The U.S. government will provide the worker’s green cards and permanent residence in exchange for the workers providing labor in U.S. businesses that need workers. The workers come here with the intent to stay and be permanent residents,” Chung said, noting businesses utilizing the recruiting service can request an unlimited number of workers [Sam Fosness, “‘They’re Coming Here to Be Americans’: Mitchell Considers Legal Immigrants to Boost Workforce,” Mitchell Daily Republic via Yahoo, 2022.09.07].

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offers EB-3 visas to professionals, skilled workers, and unskilled workers but only for for work “for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.” Applicants must have job offers in hand; the U.S. firms hiring them must file the I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, which costs $700. The EB-3 visa also allows the worker to bring a spouse and children to America, because we Americans do value families.

EB-3 applications for mainland Chinese and Indian workers are backlogged for years, but there’s no waiting for EB-5 applicants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, or other countries.

Kennedy Access is headquartered in Duluth, Georgia. The company says it serves 8 companies in 14 locations in 10 states:

Kennedy Access, map of client locations on “Services” webpage, retrieved 2022.09.09.

Kennedy Access’s director Julian Chung tells Fosness that his company has recruited for Yankton, Huron, and Sioux Falls employers; evidently they are also working for Demkota Beef in Aberdeen. Two of the three jobs that splash up on Kennedy Access’s home page today are South Dakota jobs:

Kennedy Access, splash screen spotlighting job offerings in Georgia and South Dakota, screen cap 2022.09.09.
Kennedy Access, home page splash screen spotlighting job offerings in Georgia and South Dakota, screen cap 2022.09.09.

$17 an hour to handle metal in a hot shop in Yankton, $20 an hour to chop cows in Aberdeen—evidently there are no qualified workers for those jobs available in Yankton and Aberdeen right now, so come on in, foreign friends!

But those workers will need to put in over a thousand hours to buy their green cards. Dakota  Provisions recruiter and Kennedy Access client Smoky Heuston tells Fosness that Kennedy Access charges his company $250 per employee recruited, the EB-3 workers are (Fosness’s words) “looking at a tab of $25,000 to make the move with the help of Kennedy Access.”

Heuston says the EB-3 workers who come pluck his turkeys have a pretty high turnover rate—around half do their required year and then leave Huron to join family elsewhere in the States. But Heuston says that year of hard work—”how many of you could use an employee who comes for a year and doesn’t miss a day?”—is worth Dakota Provisions’ investment. I can also see where investing directly in workers, the actual producers of value, may result in better economic development than bankrolling projects with cash from foreign investors whose primary interest is in jumping the queue and getting to American on an EB-5 visa, not in actually paying attention to the operations and enduring success of the project that’s taking their money.

But the increasing interest in EB-3 visa workers further puts the lie to Governor Kristi Noem’s Labor Day claim that South Dakota’s workforce is “stronger than ever.” Now more than ever, South Dakota doesn’t have enough workers to do the work that needs to get done; now more than ever, South Dakota has to turn to aspiring Americans, our hopeful friends from overseas, to staff our factories.

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