By Mary F. Leung/Business InsiderMaryland Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has “bizarre” rules for approving visas for people applying to work in Maryland.
Maryland has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, according to the latest available data.
But the state also has a high percentage of visas issued to people from other countries.
Marylanders with an outstanding visa for a job that would be in Maryland were told they had to take a test that included reading and writing.
The test would have included some language proficiency, but it also could have been a test of their “personal character,” which is what a lot of people who are applying for jobs in the state are asked to do.
The tests, known as “administrative inferences,” are supposed to be simple, but in Maryland, the test was so complicated that even a veteran with no formal training in the area of the exam needed to take it, according the Maryland Department of Labor.
“They said that this was the most important part of the test, so it’s really a very difficult test,” a person who worked in the IT sector told Business Insider.
Another person told us that the test “took a long time to complete” and it was “not fair for a veteran to take the test.”
Maryland is one of a number of states that is not allowing people to take these tests.
The State Department says that it’s to stop discrimination and ensure that visa applicants are able to “work in the United States in good faith.”
However, the State Department’s rules for issuing visas specifically forbid people from “initiating or engaging in political activity” and “disrupting or interfering with the performance of public or private activities.”
Marylanders can’t take the tests because they’re not required to do so, according State Department rules.
But the state is also using a “disadvantaged status” exemption that lets it continue to deny visas to people who have already been in the country.
Marylands’ “advantaged” status exemption has been around for years, but its implementation has become increasingly controversial in recent years.
It allows for the denial of visas in cases of national security, religious discrimination, and other situations.
But in an attempt to change things up, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) signed an executive order in October that explicitly allowed for the waiver of the state’s rules on “advocacy for or against policies, regulations, or actions that discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, veteran status, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by law.”
“The Maryland Department for Labor is trying to enforce their own policy by making it harder for Marylanders who are looking for jobs and have applied for work to get them,” a Maryland resident who requested anonymity told Business Associate.
“It’s really confusing and weird and they have no idea how to do this.”
Marylands decision to grant an exemption has sparked protests.
The Maryland Immigrant Rights Center, an advocacy group, told Business associate that the exemptions allow for “the state to deny a person their right to a fair opportunity for a fair wage and working conditions.”
“We think the state should stop making this ridiculous claim that it is just about ‘fighting discrimination,'” said the group’s president, Joelle Smith.
“There’s been a lot more than a couple of incidents, where immigrants have been told they can’t get a job or a job offer,” she added.
“The state is doing everything they can to push people away from the labor market.”
A spokesperson for the Maryland DHL told Business associates that the state has no plans to change the rules, and that it would be “unprecedented” to change existing rules.
“We have been very clear that the State’s Policy Statement on Advocacy and Citizenship for years and decades.
The policy does not apply to individuals applying for visas for any reason,” said a spokesperson for Maryland’s Department of the Treasury.
“The Department of Treasury has been clear in the past that Maryland’s policy on advocacy and citizenship does not extend to persons applying for Maryland-issued visas for employment.”
In fact, the Maryland legislature recently passed legislation that would have made it a crime for anyone to “deny a person’s right to be a citizen, national or lawful permanent resident” by denying them a “labor or civil service appointment” or “employment.”
The legislation was passed after several undocumented immigrants and their supporters protested the policy.
Marys law also bars undocumented immigrants from getting driver’s licenses, making it difficult for them to find employment.
The “lifestyle” visa has been used to hire a few Maryland immigrants who have had to adjust to living in the US as a legal permanent resident.
They’re now able to work for companies in the Maryland state capital of Annapolis, as well as in Baltimore, Montgomery, and