Bloggings: October 25, 2007
by Greg Siskind
Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Greg Siskind's blog.
October 23, 2007
The Senate passed by a voice vote (that means it was unanimous) a measure to double the $1500 H-1B tariff to $3000. Was an increase in the H-1B cap included as part of the deal? What do you think? Here's the language of SA 3396, introduced by not-pro-business Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Bernie Sanders, the socialist (he really is - that's not an insult) Vermont Senator.
Expect a fight on this when the bill gets to the House. Any massive tax increase associated with H-1Bs should only be accompanied by abolishing the anti-competitive H-1B cap all together.
A nurse immigration relief amendment was included by unanimous consent in a voice vote this evening. Nursing immigration ground to a halt earlier this year because of retrogression in the EB-3 green card category, the depletion of a 2005 allotment of 50,000 green cards for nurses and the lack of a non-immigrant visa category for nurses. The Senate added the measure as an amendment to H.R. 3043, the HHS-Labor budget bill. Amendment 3404, Senator Charles Schumer's Amendment, was passed as amended by Amendment 3449, introduced by Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin. I am awaiting the final text of 3449, but I have what I believe is the final language. The key provisions are as follows:
In case people miss it, the brain drain provisions cover doctors as well as other health care workers.
Note that the bill still has some key hurdles including making it out of a House-Senate conference committee and past a presidential veto. But passage on the Senate floor was considered the biggest obstacle.
It's tough to predict how long 61,000 will last, but if the 50,000's use is an indicator, we'll be at this again in about 18 months or so.
Scary stuff. This guy has really become the Joe McCarthy of the 21st century.
Senator Reid announced this from the Senate
floor. I'll summarize the measure this evening, but it basically allocates
61,000 green cards for nurses, requires a fee of $1500 be paid to a fund for
additional educational opportunities for those pursuing nursing degrees in the
I have learned that SA 3404 will get a vote
this afternoon, possibly in the next hour. Nurses do not have access to a
non-immigrant visa and the EB backlog means they must wait five years or more
to enter the country. We have a severe nursing shortage in the
Two years ago, I was counseling a number of immigrants on how to maintain their legal status in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Jobs were lost, documents destroyed, government offices closed and people were relocated to metro areas far from home. USCIS, the State Department and the Department of Labor did a good job helping people affected, but the lesson many took away from the storms was that it is important to do advance planning for disasters and emergencies and be prepared to also act quickly.
I was reminded of this by a quote I saw in
this morning's New
York Times in reference to the
“I saw a live video of our apartment
complex burning,” said Raj Panandian, a
26-year-old software engineer. He and several of his neighbors left the complex
at 4 a.m. after receiving a telephone call from
“I had just settled down there six months ago,” said Mr. Panandian, an Indian citizen. “I had bought furniture, and everything. The only thing I managed to save was my passport and my H-1 work visa. I think everything else is gone.”
One simple action you can take now is to make sure you have a copy of all of your key immigration documents accessible at a remote location in case of a disaster. Consider scanning your documents and storing them electronically off site as well. Not only will you need documents like your I-94 and passport to prove your legal status, but you'll want copies of filings with government agencies in case the government office with your file is closed temporarily or destroyed.
Also, following Mr. Panandian's lead is helpful. Have your original documents in a place you can quickly find them and be sure you take them with you when you evacuate.
If you are displaced and forced to move, remember to alert USCIS to your address change. You can download Form AR-11 at www.uscis.gov.
If there is a major disaster in your area, you should check in, if possible, with your immigration lawyer or if you are a student, your foreign student adviser. The American Immigration Lawyers Association and NAFSA, the organization for foreign student advisers, will often have the latest and most detailed information on special procedures and announcements relating to the disaster.
In a large disaster, USCIS may relax visa rules so people who lose their jobs, are no longer enrolled in school, etc. are not facing severe immigration violations. But you should not count on this, particularly if an emergency only affects you or a disaster is small, and you may want to plan on quickly filing for a change to visitor status while you sort things out. I-539 visitor status petitions can be submitted online. You are technically required to file for a change to visitor status while you remain in valid status in another category, but there is a provision in the regulations allowing for late filings when there are extraordinary circumstances. Be sure to present a copy of a police or fire report or a FEMA or insurance adjuster document proving you were affected by the disaster or emergency.
Be sure to file for replacement documents quickly if an original document was lost. The I-90 form to replace a green card can be filed online. You can also download Form I-102 to replace an I-94 at the USCIS web site.
I'm sure readers have other tips to share and I encourage you to mention them in the comments.
October 22, 2007
Senator Reid, as promised, is bringing the
DREAM Act up for a vote. He'll do it on Wednesday and the antis are
already going crazy lighting up the switchboard in
AILA provided this action alert this afternoon:
If the DREAM Act Passes the Senate...
The DREAM Act positively conveys the benefits
and contributions of immigrants to
If the DREAM Act Fails to Pass the Senate...Conversely, if the DREAM Act does not garner the sixty votes it needs to pass the Senate, a different message will resonate throughout the country. This message tells immigrant kids that their hard work in school - the studying and staying out of trouble
- mean nothing to American law makers. This
message tells teenagers who have lived in the
Welcome flexibility from USCIS.
I caught the story over Bianca Jagger's eviction
from her rent-controlled
story cracks me up. How better to waste taxpayer money - by
buying US steel or Chinese steel? I guess since the fence is really only a
symbol anyway and won't solve our immigration problems and given that the lack
of a functioning guest worker program in the
Aren't you glad I interrupted the Ellen dog story/Britney custody fight for this important news?
I love Facebook and am psyched that it is being used to promote important causes like the DREAM Act. If you're a college student and want to help out in getting Congress to support DREAM, follow the link below:
October 21, 2007
NY Times reporter Julia Preston, one of the
best immigration reporters in the country, covers the
increasing delays in reentry of US citizens at
land ports of entry in
Americans used to enjoy warm receptions
wherever they went in the world. Those days are long gone and without getting
in to a discussion of foreign policy, some recent studies have shown that
people's views are also shaped by how well they know the country. Those who
So the fortress mentality at US consulates and
ports of entry can be viewed as serving our enemy's interests. While we need to
have a secure immigration system, we need to be smart about it and not have
policies that are so restrictive that people don't even bother trying to come
to visit the
I received the following email this week from
an organization trying to promote tourism to the
October 16, 2007
When It Comes
to Travel, the Deck Is Stacked Against
Almost every developed
nation, other than the
The Solution? The Travel Promotion Act of 2007 (S.1661 / H.R. 3232) would establish a nationally coordinated travel promotion campaign paid for by a $10 fee on overseas travelers from visa waiver countries and matching funds provided by the U.S. travel industry. A study by Oxford Economics shows that travel promotion would yield at least:
For more information
on the importance of overseas travel to the
Reader "legal-forever-waiting-forever" posted this piece from the conservative newspaper the New York Sun on how protectionist immigration policies keeping out foreign scientists and technology professional are hurting America.
Bobby Jindal, the
American-born child of Indian immigrants, has easily won the Louisiana Governor
race. Jindal is a conservative Republican known for
his enthusiastic support of the war in
October 20, 2007
Back in the 50s, Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) kept banging the anti-communist drum accusing anyone and everyone of being a red. Today, the same tactics are used by the anti-immigration crowd. McCarthy and company overreached in the 50s and their reputation is permanently stained. The same fate awaits the anti-immigrants making news today.
Tancredo has made news twice this week for ridiculous proposals that only show him to be the extremist he is. A first proposal would require all family immigration applicants to submit to DNA testing to qualify for a green card. A second proposal would legislatively overturn Judge Breyer's decision to temporarily enjoin DHS from implementing the no match rule. The judge is holding up the rule pending a demonstration that US citizens are sufficiently protected from being falsely identified in the system and unable to correct the problems in a timely manner.
That's the message from the State Department of Safety which has come up with a completely silly interpretation of a new state law requiring people demonstrate legal immigration status to get a driver's license. I've dealt with the folks at the state's DMV and trust me when I tell you that they have no business trying to evaluate immigration documents. Of course, our state also has the intelligent requirement that you need a social security number to get married.
has been playing out since post-9/11 rules went in to effect requiring every
visa applicant to be interviewed in person at a
The article also discusses a legislative proposal to speed up processing. That legislation has has some success in the House with recent passage in the Immigration Subcommittee and Judiciary Committee.
October 19, 2007
I'm at the airport waiting to leave
ILW.com recently posted USCIS' 2006
Outstanding Americans By Choice list and one of the
folks named is someone I've known for a few years in my volunteer capacity as a
board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Marina Belotserkovsky
is well-known in the Russian community in
Marina Belotserkovsky is currently director of Russian
Communications and Community Outreach at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
(HIAS), where she is responsible for assisting over one million members of the
Russian-speaking community in America. She produces and hosts "HIAS
Answers" for both radio and television. The program was developed to
provide information for new immigrants when they arrive in the
Roll Call is reporting
Another victim of this trend is Senator Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican who had one of the most pro-immigrant records in Congress. Brownback heavily emphasized immigration enforcement in his bid to get the Republican nomination for President. But his pro-immigration past plagued him throughout the campaign and yesterday he called it quits. Hopefully, when he returns to the Senate, he will also re-embrace his views on immigration. But I'm hardly optimistic. Only after Republicans take a few beatings in the next few election cycles are they likely to tone down the rhetoric and resume their traditional positions on the issue.
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL PANEL RECOMMENDS CREATION OF GOVERNMENT COMMISSION TO PROMOTE RECRUITING OF FOREIGN SCIENTISTS TO US
Reuters is reporting on the release of the report.
According to the NRC, "The global
scientific enterprise thrives on the movement of students and scholars across
borders and among institutions…For more than 50 years
According to Reuters:
With fewer American students choosing careers in science and engineering, the American research and development effort cannot be sustained without a significant and steady infusion of foreign participants, the committee said.
Four flights over a day and a half of flying
and I'll be back in
While here, I had the opportunity to meet with
some of the folks at the Ministry of Manpower, the government agency charged
with managing work visas to the country. They see their role as promoting
economic development in the country by aiding in recruiting bright people who
have something to offer the country. The unemployment rate is just 2.7% and,
The government's motto on immigration is
"3S" - speed, service, security. The process for applying for a work
visa is straightforward and user-friendly. And my favorite feature - those
qualifying for H-1Bs and similar visas in
I met lawyers from a number of other countries
and most are amazed that the
October 18, 2007
Hats off to
Pro-immigration Reform Candidate Wins Nasty
Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.