Archive for the ‘Immigration, General’ Category.
In last week’s Republican debate, a significant challenge to American businesses was raised – the annual limit or “cap” on the number of H-1B visas issued – a limit imposed twenty-five years ago, before the Internet and mobile phones and “Big Data” were parts of everyday vocabulary. This issue isn’t a newly discovered problem, it is something that has stymied business growth and innovation for years. The next generation of technologists needed to run our technology infrastructure and continue our world-leading development environment often are international students on F-1 visas – a source of vitality in the U.S. tech sector, and a key part of maintaining America’s leadership in the technology fields. Conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, have long thought that our country needs to provide a path for these graduates, beyond the H-1B visa. In fact, a bipartisan rallying cry in recent years has been to “staple a green card to their diplomas.” And yet, Congress has not acted.
Because of the challenges in keeping these international students employed in the United States under the antiquated H-1B cap, President Bush caused a regulation to be promulgated to extend the time of these student’s F-1 visas, which President Obama recently caused to be extended further. Not only governmental efforts have been made, however, to keep these students employed in the United States instead of taking their new businesses to Canada, India, or elsewhere. The New York Times recently profiled efforts by the City of New York, the universities in New York, and entrepreneurial international students to develop architectures in which those students could create their businesses in partnership with universities, and thus in the United States. Another article recently profiled how enterprising students and their business partners have had to leverage the visa process to create businesses that qualify for H-1B visas, again making efforts to build those businesses in the United States, rather than abroad.
Continue reading ‘Chasing Away the Innovators: Not in America’s Interest’ »
I spend most of my days steeped in PERM filings, H-1Bs and other thorny employment-based conundrums. I don’t speak Spanish. The number of asylum cases I have handled can be counted on one hand. I have rarely represented clients in Immigration Court. And yet, last year, I offered to help the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project remotely, if an opportunity arose. I didn’t expect the immediate reply of, “Here you go! The brief is due in a week!”
A week later, I was informed that a four-year-old girl was dancing around the CARA attorneys’ evening meeting singing the theme song from Frozen, grateful for the opportunity to remain safe in this country as a result of my one week of concerted effort. How was I able to do this? The incredible mentorship and support of two local immigration attorneys, Kim Hunter and Malee Ketelsen-Renner, made it possible for my efforts to change the lives of a mother and daughter in detention. I could urge everyone to volunteer because it is the humane and ethical obligation of any expert in immigration law. However, this volunteer experience was valuable for reasons well beyond the warm fuzzies that I continue to feel, nearly a year later
Continue reading ‘Benefits of Volunteering Go Beyond the Client’ »
AILA members and their clients are well aware of the lengthening processing times for several product lines at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service centers. However, most pronounced is the extraordinary expansion of processing times for H-1B extensions at both the California and Vermont Service Centers. AILA has brought concerns regarding the delays in processing to the attention of USCIS in several different forums over the past several months.
We pointed out that according to the posted processing times, on September 30, 2015, the California Service Center was processing routine H-1B extensions that were filed on or before June 2, 2015. Several months later, the November 30, 2015, report indicated that the processing date moved only 11 days – to June 13, 2015. Those who have tried to inquire with the National Customer Service Center regarding cases pending beyond the normal processing times have learned that the date has not moved significantly beyond June 13, 2015, in the 2 months since November 30, 2015.
Continue reading ‘Frustrations with H-1B Processing Delays Exacerbated by USCIS Stonewalling’ »
Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in October 2000. As the USCIS website explains, this legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking of undocumented immigrants, among other crimes. These special nonimmigrant visas are for individuals who have suffered substantial mental and/or physical abuse as a result of a crime committed against them and who are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation and prosecution of the crime.
As an immigration attorney, I have worked with immigrants, like Jose, for whom the U visa offers a way forward, free from fear. In 2006, Jose, a 30-year-old Hispanic laborer, made his way to work at 5:00 in the morning. Within minutes of parking, an unknown man in a vehicle stopped next to his car and approached Jose. This man then took out a 12-gauge shotgun and without motive, shot Jose twice, striking him in the face and shoulder.
Bleeding profusely and literally holding half of his face in the palm of his hand, Jose stumbled toward his work site and made an urgent call for help. He was rushed to the hospital, where he would remain for the next two and half months. Jose suffered a shattered jaw, lost a large portion of his tongue, and suffered extreme emotional trauma, among other injuries.
Continue reading ‘U Visa: A Sliver of a Silver Lining for Victims of Violent Crimes’ »
In a January 7, 2016, article in Fusion, Tim Rogers tells readers that the Obama Administration, “is on pace to deport more people than the sum of all 19 presidents who governed the United States from 1892-2000.” Think about that for a second. This is the reality as we get ready for President’ Obama’s final State of the Union Address which takes place tonight, in the recent wake of the newly launched enforcement actions against families, women, and children who have fled some of the most dangerous conditions on earth in gang-plagued Central America.
The State of the Union used to be an opportunity to hear a message of optimism and hope, when the president would outline the administration’s goals and objectives for the coming year. But recently, it seems we have lost our way; that we have morphed into something that we are not. Americans have always embraced the role of our nation as protector, wise guardian, and leader. We have sacrificed thousands of brave men and women who have gone to foreign shores to protect a populace they did not know from dictators, tyrants, and terrorists because it was the right thing to do. It was the American thing to do.
Continue reading ‘What I Need to Hear’ »
On Christmas Eve, news leaked that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was going to begin raids to round up and deport Central American families. Over the holiday week, stakeholders, legislators, community leaders, and advocates pushed back hard on these planned raids and begged the Obama Administration not to move forward.
In spite of that, and without any communication from DHS in response to our efforts, on the first Saturday of the New Year the raids began. Reports surfaced quickly of mothers and children being torn from their homes, terrified of what was happening. Of ICE agents gaining access to homes under questionable circumstances. Of the latest inhumane and deplorable practices to which the federal government has subjected asylum seekers.
Continue reading ‘Defend, Don’t Target, the Vulnerable’ »
Yesterday morning began with a panicked message from a software engineer employed by one of my corporate clients. The engineer had “ported” his green card application, joining my client after having been sponsored by a prior employer for permanent residence. The company was happy he had joined, since he brought needed skills to help upgrade the company’s infrastructure. The engineer’s message related to his green card application: nine years after his immigrant visa petition had been approved, while he was waiting in the interminable backlog for high-skilled workers from India, USCIS decided to question its approval of the immigrant visa petition filed by the prior employer. The engineer was now second-guessing his decision to have taken the position with my client, wondering if his immigration future might be more secure if he went back to the work he had been doing previously.
Continue reading ‘DHS Rule For Highly Skilled Immigrants: Helpful, But Timid’ »
Back in October, I predicted that technology companies, universities, and foreign students would have to wait past a court-imposed February 12, 2016 deadline for a new rule that would continue the “STEM OPT Extension” part of the Optional Practical Training Program. In order to meet the court’s deadline, I pointed out that DHS would need to publish its final rule 60 days before the anticipated effective date, December 14, 2015. That deadline has come and gone.
The plaintiffs in the case that resulted in the February 12 deadline have appealed because they did not like Judge Huvelle’s earlier rulings that the OPT program is well within the Department of Homeland Security’s statutory authority. Judge Huvelle held that OPT is a well-established part of immigration law that Congress authorized through several major revisions of the statute over the past 25+ years. At present, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing that issue, as well as the plaintiffs’ standing to bring the lawsuit challenging a duly-promulgated regulation based on a bare assertion that they have been harmed by the OPT program.
Continue reading ‘STEM OPT Rule: Coming, But Likely Delayed (Still Not Time To Panic, Though)’ »
At the time of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, I was a teenager, completely unfazed by the events unfolding. My brother and I were both going to school in the U.K. and my older sister had already immigrated to the U.S. When the revolution peaked in late 1978, my parents were visiting my sister in Los Angeles. Tragically, within two months, our 2500-year monarchy was replaced with a repressive and regressive Islamic system of governance in February 1979. I was the last one of my family who was able to arrive in the U.S., later in 1979 to complete high school.
As with many Iranians, our extended family was scattered by the new regime. My mom’s cousin was executed for being a senator in the Shah’s government. To retrieve his body, we had to pay for the bullets used by the firing squad. My uncle was accused of crimes against humanity for being the Chief of Police in Tehran at the time of the revolution. He went into hiding and stayed there until his death many years later. My younger sister, her husband, and their baby were jailed for attempting to escape from the country on foot.
Stateside, we were dealing with the fallout from the horrendous hostage crisis where American diplomats were detained for 444 days in Iran. Agents from the FBI visited our home and interviewed all of us. Life was volatile, but at least we felt relatively safe in America.
Continue reading ‘Ineffective and Discriminatory is not a Winning Combination’ »
A couple of weeks ago, I read a piece in the Huffington Post quoting Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson saying that it’s okay to deport kids to Honduras because it’s “a beautiful country.” Reading this ridiculous comment, I felt I had to share my knowledge of what is driving children to flee their homes.
The reality is Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Plagued by poverty, infested with deported violent criminals and gang members, its corrupt government fails to protect its citizens. I saw firsthand the plight of many in Honduras when I traveled to the Bay Islands on two separate occasions as an avid scuba diver a few years ago.
Continue reading ‘For Many, “Beautiful Honduras” Isn’t.’ »