Will Trump’s Latest Immigration Plans Affect The Economy?

The day after President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress, the Dow Industrial Average hit 21,000 for the first time ever. Investors are anticipating substantial tax cuts, especially in corporate taxes, along with massive infrastructure projects and perhaps the largest public works project of all time – “the wall.” It’s certainly good news for investors, but how are the rest of us fairing under President Trump? Will the president’s immigration plans affect the economy positively or negatively – or at all? If you are an employer who hires foreign nationals, how will the administration’s immigration policies impact your business in particular?

A deportation plan that would send hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants out of the country could be a catastrophe for the economy. Undocumented immigrants constitute about five percent of the U.S. workforce, and particular sectors of the economy, like agriculture, are almost entirely dependent on undocumented immigrants. Up to 85 percent of California’s agricultural workers are undocumented, according to Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League. If the administration were to weed out illegal workers, California farmers say their ability to do business would be crippled.

For example, the Trump Administration’s immigration policies could dramatically impact California’s Central Valley, a region of agricultural land extending from Bakersfield to Redding. Agriculture is by far the Central Valley’s largest industry, and more than 6.5 million people live there. Agriculture in the Central Valley brings in about $35 billion a year and provides more of the nation’s food than any other region.

WHAT WOULD BE THE RESULT OF MASS DEPORTATIONS?

The consequences of a serious deportation plan would ripple through the dairies and orchards but other locally owned shops, diners, and also completely different businesses, like insurance and energy. Harold McClarty, a fourth-generation farmer in Kingsburg who grows, packs, and ships peaches, plums, and grapes across the United States, told the New York Times, “If you only have legal labor, certain parts of this industry and this region will not exist. If we sent all these people back, it would be a total disaster.”

California farmers have struggled for years with a labor shortage, partly because of better security along the border and partly due to increased costs of smugglers who assist civilians across. The formerly-endless inflow of workers from rural towns and villages in Mexico has nearly ceased. Growers in California and across the country hope that the Trump Administration will further develop and ease the H-2A visa program, which allows growers to bring in foreign workers for temporary agricultural jobs.

Farmers are also among those concerned about the administration’s trade policies. The president has already pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and President Trump has promised to pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as well if he is unable to negotiate favorable circumstances for the U.S. Farmers would benefit from more positive terms, but pulling out of NAFTA entirely could trigger economic punishment from Mexico that could potentially damage agriculture in California, which earned $21 billion from trade in 2016.

WHAT OTHER INDUSTRIES ARE CONCERNED ABOUT IMMIGRATION POLICY?

Silicon Valley is also concerned about the administration’s immigration policies. Dozens of tech companies – including Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and PayPal – are opposing Mr. Trump’s executive orders barring immigrants from Middle Eastern and North African nations – and opposing the other immigration crackdowns the administration has promised – because the policies could signal the end of the U.S. as a destination for the world’s best tech inventors.

If that sounds dramatic, consider that more than half of the 87 privately held U.S. start-ups valued at $1 billion or more were founded by one or more people from outside the United States, according to researchers at the National Foundation for American Policy. The Partnership for a New American Economy found in 2011 that more than 40 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 were founded by immigrants to the United States or by the children of immigrants. For the newest members in the Fortune 500, many of them technology companies, even more were founded by immigrants.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO H-1B VISAS?

And while the Trump Administration’s stance on illegal immigration has been quite clearly articulated, the president has nevertheless sent mixed signals about the H-1B visa program. Tech firms may have to begin settling for the talent they can find here in the U.S., as the president has suggested that he will restrict or abolish the H-1B visas that so many tech companies use to find and employ international workers.

Members of the Trump Administration, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have characterized the H1-B visa program as a system riddled with fraud and abuse that prioritizes cheaper, foreign labor ahead of U.S. workers. Limiting or eliminating H-1B visas would substantially impact the ability of U.S. companies to hire the most talented workers in the technology sector and related fields.

It’s still too soon to predict how this administration’s immigration policies will impact the domestic and global economic and business environments. Until Congress hashes out some of President Trump’s proposals – and until the Supreme Court issues definitive rulings on the president’s executive orders – employers and immigrants should have no cause for fear. The president has implied on a number of occasions that when he declares a “policy,” it may in fact only be a starting position for negotiations on the issue.

Litigation that may affect immigrants is already pending in several courts around the country. Several legal challenges to President Trump’s “travel ban” have been launched. As various courts render rulings and as those rulings are appealed, the legal situation could change rapidly throughout 2017, and employers, immigrants, nonimmigrant visa holders, and their families may need the legal advice and guidance that an experienced Columbus immigration attorney offers.

Do not hesitate to discuss any of your immigration concerns with an experienced immigration lawyer. If you are a foreign national and you are seeking a visa, a green card, a change in your immigration status, or protection from deportation – or if you are a U.S.-based employer who hires foreign nationals – it’s imperative to have sound immigration advice and experienced legal representation. The right immigration lawyer – a trustworthy Columbus immigration attorney who works right here in the United States – can help with applications, hearings, and all of the additional immigration requirements.

Over 100 Tech Companies Oppose Trump’s Immigration Ban

The famous tech companies of Silicon Valley – and some of the not-so-famous tech companies as well – have lined up in opposition to President Trump’s January 27 executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The executive order bans entry into the United States by travelers from seven predominantly-Muslim North African and Middle Eastern nations. As of February 8th, 127 companies in the tech industry have joined a friend-of-the-court brief that seeks to overturn that executive order.

The friend-of-the-court brief charges that the executive order is “a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the United States for more than fifty years.” The brief also claims, “The Order makes it more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world’s best employees. It disrupts ongoing business operations. And it threatens companies’ ability to attract talent, business, and investment to the United States.”

The friend-of-the-court brief, authored by Washington attorney Andrew Pincus, also includes some remarkable immigration statistics: “Immigrants are leading entrepreneurs. Some of these businesses are large. Immigrants or their children founded more than 200 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list…. Collectively, these companies generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion, and employ millions of Americans.” The brief also mentions that 18 percent of the business owners in the United States – and 16 percent of the labor force – are immigrants.

WHICH COMPANIES HAVE JOINED THE BRIEF? WHICH HAVEN’T?

The brief was submitted to the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a lawsuit filed by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Companies joining the brief include Google, Facebook, Apple, Airbnb, Ancestry.com, LinkedIn, Intel, Lyft, Uber, Mozilla, Microsoft, and PayPal. However, Amazon, Oracle, Qualcomm, and IBM were not among the tech companies that joined the friend-of-the-court brief. IBM told Forbes magazine that its CEO, Ginni Rometty, has already “conveyed the company’s views directly” to the White House.

The friend-of-the-court brief expresses Silicon Valley’s abiding conviction that immigrants are essential and key actors on the U.S. economic scene. Immigration benefits “not just the new immigrants who chose to come to our shores, but American businesses, workers, and consumers, who gain immense advantages from immigrants’ infusion of talents, energy, and opportunity,” according to the brief.

Martin Flaherty, who is a professor of constitutional law at Fordham Law School in New York City, told USA Today that friend-of-the-court briefs allow parties with an interest in a case to offer judges their own conclusions without actual being a party in the case. Judges often appreciate the insights offered by those with special knowledge about a case or a special interest in a case. Particularly controversial and landmark cases often generate scores of friend-of-the-court briefs on each side, Flaherty said.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE EFFECT OF THE EXECUTIVE ORDER?

The January 27 executive order suspended the processing of visas for foreign nationals from seven North African and Middle Eastern nations: Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. Some foreign nationals from those nations were prevented from entering the U.S. after arriving at U.S. airports. Others have had their visa applications suspended or revoked prior to their departures for the U.S. The executive order has been met with numerous protests and extensive criticism in both the United States and abroad, and with a number of legal actions.

In Seattle, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a restraining order on February 3rd that temporarily prevents the federal government from enforcing several sections of the executive order. As of February 8th, that restraining order is still in effect. For the moment, the federal government may not enforce the 90-day travel ban on “immigrants and nonimmigrants” from the seven designated countries, the 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, or the indefinite suspension on the admission of Syrian refugees.

The U.S. District Court’s temporary restraining order probably will not be in effect for long, and the case will almost certainly be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the interim, cases pending in several other courts may also have an impact on immigrants and nonimmigrants from the seven designated nations. Until the Supreme Court provides a definitive ruling on the multiple legal issues raised by the January 27 executive order, the situation for immigrants, nonimmigrant visa holders, and families could change very quickly – and more than once.

Immigration attorneys across the nation and around the world are counseling individuals and families impacted by the executive order and are advocating aggressively for justice on their behalf. If you or anyone you love – or anyone you employ – needs legal direction or assistance regarding the January 27 executive order, an experienced Ohio immigration attorney can answer your questions, address your concerns, and if necessary, take the appropriate legal action.

For a number of tech firms and other companies in Silicon Valley and across the United States, the January 27 executive order has reportedly created pandemonium. Google has announced that almost 200 of its employees are being affected, while Microsoft said that more than 75 of its employees are impacted. As mentioned previously, until the United States Supreme Court rules on the matter, the legal situation for immigrants and nonimmigrant visa holders from the seven designated nations – and for their families – will be changing and confusing.

IS IMMIGRATION ALWAYS THIS CONTROVERSIAL AND CONFUSING?

Although the January 27 executive order has triggered controversy and aroused strong passions, what we’re seeing is really nothing new, historically speaking. Immigration law in the United States has always been torturously complex, and immigration practices and policies have always generated contention and acrimony. However, two facts never seem to change – employers need foreign-born employees, and many foreigners strongly desire to work in the United States.

Legal complexities and ever-changing regulations are always an element of the immigration process, but especially at this time, immigrants, non-immigrant visa holders, families, and employers affected by the January 27 executive order may need the legal advice and services of an experienced Ohio immigration attorney. It may be months before the United States Supreme Court finally and definitively resolves the legal questions raised by the January 27 executive order.

Where Are The Best Computer Programmers?

Our prosperity in the United States is built on the renegade, risk-taking spirit of innovation and invention. A new business is an expression of belief – the confidence that “we can make it” in the United States. Historically, wave after wave of immigrants have put their trust into the American dream that anything is possible in the United States for those who put in the effort. For example, more than half of the companies in Silicon Valley today began as immigrant-founded startups.

Paul Graham is a computer scientist, a venture capitalist, and an internationally-acclaimed writer. He is the author of several programming books, and his blog deals with a number of issues related to computer programming. Graham recently asked – and then answered – the question, “Where are the best computer programmers?” The answer may surprise you, because it’s an impeccably sound argument for comprehensive immigration reform.

U.S.-based high-tech firms say that they need comprehensive immigration reform because they can’t find enough good computer programmers in the United States. Opponents of immigration reform insist that we should simply train more of the people who were born here to be computer programmers instead of letting immigrants take those jobs. Who’s right? Paul Graham has no problem answering the question bluntly. He says the high-tech firms are right and the opponents of immigration are wrong.

WHY ARE THE OPPONENTS OF IMMIGRATION WRONG?

Graham says the high-tech firms are right because the United States comprises less than five percent of world’s people. If the traits and characteristics that make a person a superlative computer programmer are evenly distributed – and there’s every reason to believe that they are – then more than 95 percent of the world’s potentially great computer programmers are born outside of the United States.

“What the anti-immigration people don’t understand,” Paul Graham writes, “is that there is a huge variation in ability between competent programmers and exceptional ones, and while you can train people to be competent, you can’t train them to be exceptional. Exceptional programmers have an aptitude for and interest in programming that is not merely the product of training.”

WHY DO COMPANIES LOOK AROUND THE WORLD FOR PROGRAMMERS?

One persistent theme of immigration opponents is that high-tech firms want to hire immigrants so that they can drive salaries downward. However, current immigration law already ensures that the salaries paid to immigrants in fields like computer programming are comparable to the salaries of U.S.-born workers doing the same job. Why are high-tech companies looking around the world for programmers if it’s not to keep salaries down?

The truth has little to do with salaries. There simply aren’t enough good programmers right here in the United States. “It would be great,” Graham writes, “if more Americans were trained as programmers, but no amount of training can flip a ratio as overwhelming as 95 to 5.” He adds, “A country with only a few percent of the world’s population will be exceptional in some field only if there are a lot of immigrants working in it.”

Paul Graham admits that recognizing the need for comprehensive immigration reform is only half the battle. Once lawmakers are agreed that comprehensive immigration reform is imperative, how does the U.S. then make itself attractive to the world’s best computer programmers? Graham suggests that we make the U.S. attractive to programmers simply by letting them work here. If more programmers are here, he reasons, even more will want to be here. Graham writes, “good people like good colleagues.”

Although he focuses on programmers, Paul Graham admits that the United States also needs to attract the very best designers, electrical engineers, and others falling into the category he calls “digital talent.” As they have in the past, immigrants bring ambition, a work ethic, and diverse cultural perspectives that generate U.S. economic growth and innovation. By welcoming immigrants, the United States gains a huge economic and trade advantage over other nations – like China and Japan – with more restrictive immigration laws.

Unfortunately, however, without comprehensive immigration reform, the annual cap on H-1B visas for highly-skilled foreign professionals will remain at 65,000, with another 20,000 set aside for foreign professionals with post-graduate degrees from U.S. universities. If you are a U.S.-based employer who hires international employees, obtain the immigration help you’ll need from an experienced Ohio immigration attorney.

ARE THERE GOOD ALTERNATIVES TO THE H-1B VISA?

A good immigration lawyer can help businesses of any size with H-1B visa petitions and other work visas, I-9 compliance, and the big complicated mess that we call “immigration law.” The next filing period for H-1Bs begins next April 1, so the time for employers to get started is now. H-1B visas are hard – but not impossible – to obtain, and even if an employer obtains an H-1B visa in April, the visa recipient can’t begin working until October 2017. Fortunately, there may be some alternatives:

• An employee of a multinational corporation who wishes to work for a U.S.-based parent, branch, or subsidiary corporation in a managerial or executive capacity, or who has specialized knowledge about the company, may qualify for an L-1 intracompany transferee visa.

• E-1 visas are for traders and E-2 visas are for investors. Only nationals of countries that have commercial treaties with the United States qualify for E visas.

• The E-3 Australian specialty worker visa is comparable to the H-1B, but only Australian nationals qualify.

• Professionals from Canada and Mexico may qualify for TN professional visas.

• The H-1B1 visa for citizens of Singapore or Chile is similar to the H-1B. 5,400 are set aside annually for citizens of Singapore, while 1,400 are reserved for Chileans.

• Individuals with extraordinary abilities and significant accomplishments in certain fields may qualify for the O-1 visa.

• The J-1 visa is for individuals working or training in the U.S. in particular career fields.

Many H-1B-eligible international workers will qualify for at least one of these visas. Scores of U.S.-based employers choose one or more of these alternatives to the H-1B visa and are pleased with the results. Every visa takes time, and there’s inevitably some wrinkle or complication in the process, so employers should discuss their visa needs and related concerns with an experienced Ohio immigration attorney as soon as those needs and concerns emerge.

Immigrant Population In U.S. Reaches All-Time High

New data from the Census Bureau is telling us that the number of immigrants entering the United States – both with and without documentation – is not only growing but accelerating. According to a report released in November by the Center for Immigration Studies – an organization that lobbies for lower levels of immigration and opposes comprehensive immigration reform – about three million new immigrants entered the United States in the years 2014 and 2015.

In the United States in 2015, the total foreign-born population, 43.3 million, was a record high. Despite the Center for Immigration Studies’ reputation as “opponents” of immigration, there’s no reason to doubt the accuracy of their November report, which is based on the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey. Steven Camarota, the director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies said, “We are now certain that immigration surged in 2015.”

About 1.5 million new immigrants entered the United States in 2014, a 17 percent increase over 2013. In the first six months of 2015, another 914,000 new immigrants arrived in the U.S. At 13.5 percent, the percentage of immigrants in the U.S. population is larger than at any time since 1910, and according to Census Bureau projections, the percentage of immigrants in the U.S. will reach a record level by 2022.

WHY IS THE PACE OF IMMIGRATION PICKING UP?

Why is the pace of immigration picking up right now? Camarota speculated that an improving economy is one reason, but he also pointed to procedural changes in federal immigration policies such as allowing the spouses of guest workers to obtain work permits in the United States. Congress also amended the rules for non-agricultural seasonal workers, so that those who worked in the U.S. last year and return this year do not count against the visa cap for workers in that category. Progressive legislation in states like California has also had a role in drawing immigrants to those states.

What are the states with the fastest-growing immigrant populations? If you’re thinking New York, Florida, Texas, and California, you’d be entirely wrong. Surprisingly, from 2010 through 2015, the states with the fastest-growing immigrant populations are North Dakota (up by 72.2 percent), Wyoming (38.9 percent), West Virginia (31.1 percent), South Dakota (25.2 percent), and Delaware (21.8 percent). However, in terms of overall population as of 2015, California still has the highest percentage of immigrants (27.3 percent). The other top states are New York (22.9 percent), New Jersey (22.1 percent), Florida (20.2 percent), and Nevada (19.3 percent).

One key aspect of the new report is the changing demographics of the immigrants themselves. The percentage of those entering the United States from Mexico is declining, while the numbers  of new immigrants arriving from east Asia and South Asia are rising. In 2004, 35 percent of the new immigrants in the U.S. were from Mexico; by 2014, that number had declined to 11.6 percent. East Asian and South Asian immigrants constituted only 24.1 percent of the new immigrant population in 2004; that number grew to 38 percent in 2014.

Immigration from Central America is also rising. Non-Mexican immigrants from Latin America comprised 18.7 percent of the new immigrant population in 2011 and 23 percent in 2014. In 2015, the number of people from all Latin American nations living in the U.S. was 22.1 million, a 10 percent increase over 2010. Immigrants from predominantly Muslim nations constitute a far smaller number of people entering the U.S. – only 2.7 million in 2015 – but that still represents a 24 percent increase since 2010. Although they are frequently discussed in the news media, only 13,210 Syrian refugees have entered the U.S. since the beginning of 2016.

WHERE ELSE ARE THE NEW IMMIGRANTS ARRIVING FROM?

From everywhere, people are trying to get into the land of the free and the home of the brave any way they can. The arrests of more than 8,000 people from India, China, Romania, Bangladesh, and Nepal between October 2015 and August 2016 presents new challenges to immigration agents whose job is to apprehend those caught crossing the border without documentation. Surprisingly, India and China are now also among the leading nations of origin for people caught trying to enter the United States without documentation.  Of course, the best way to enter the U.S. is by the rules, with the help of someone like an experienced Ohio immigration attorney.

Victor Manjarrez, the director of the Center for Law & Human Behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso – and a one-time Border Patrol sector chief – says the increase in migrants from countries far beyond the western hemisphere should be considered a growing concern. “In the grand scheme, as a percentage, it’s relatively small but the raw numbers are such a big jump historically,” Manjarrez said. Why should immigrants from faraway nations be a growing concern?

Most Mexican immigrants caught at the border without documentation are sent home after just several days – they can basically be “just turned around.” But for those from nations on the other side of the world, the deportation process is lengthier and costlier. These immigrants may be held in immigration facilities for months, waiting for legal documents from their home nations or waiting for an immigration judge to determine their fate.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE IMMIGRANTS?

Of course, the best way to enter the United States is with full documentation and the counsel of an experienced Ohio immigration attorney. An immigration attorney helps international students, professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors obtain visas to enter the U.S., helps families reunite in the U.S., and helps employers hire immigrants and stay compliant with the plethora of immigration-related employment laws and regulations.

The rising number of immigrant arrivals from other continents, along with a rise in border crossings, has filled U.S. immigration facilities with more than 40,000 people in September and October. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s budget allows them to house only 34,000 at any given moment, and immigration authorities may face a budget crisis in the first months of 2017 if the trend persists.

Gillian Christensen, speaking for the Department of Homeland Security, says that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has enough resources to operate “at current levels” through December 9, when a temporary budget resolution expires. After that, Christensen said, Homeland Security will have to shift resources from other agencies in the department or find an “alternative” budget strategy.

Immigration and The Flight From El Salvador

Two years ago – in 2014 – thousands of unaccompanied minors poured into the United States from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The U.S. government was unprepared. The young people from Central America and the immigration authorities were caught in what President Obama called at the time an “urgent humanitarian situation.” In 2016, another crisis at the border may be imminent.

Entire families from El Salvador are flowing into the U.S. in what could be record numbers. The number of Salvadoran families apprehended along the Mexican-U.S. border has jumped by 96 percent in only a year, and more undocumented families are coming to the U.S. from El Salvador than from any other nation. This year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data, for every Mexican family detained at the border, ten Salvadoran families are apprehended. Salvadorans also face removal proceedings more often than immigrants from any other nation.

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Why are entire Salvadoran families fleeing their homes and doing whatever it takes – sometimes at great personal risk – to make it to the United States? Observers believe that El Salvador is on the edge of civil war. El Salvador’s attorney general’s office said in August that government forces recently thwarted a terrorist scheme designed to turn El Salvador’s gang-and-drug violence against the government itself. Prosecutors charged 78 leaders of “MS-13” with conspiring to buy high-caliber weapons in Guatemala and Mexico to attack government targets in the capital city, Managua, and across the nation.

The Salvadoran government charges that MS-13 was raising $1 million to buy assault rifles and ammo, surface-to-air missiles, bulletproof vests, and commando uniforms. The scheme, prosecutors say, was ultimately a nationwide assault to gain control of territory while disrupting El Salvador’s fragile economy and challenging the nation’s entrenched political leadership. By targeting police officers and politicians for daily assassinations, MS-13 hoped to both incite fear in the general populace and to bankrupt the government. Basically, the rebels intended to raise the fear level dramatically in what is already one of the world’s deadliest places.

WHAT DO OPPONENTS OF THE SALVADORAN GOVERNMENT SAY?

Opponents of the Salvadoran government are insisting that the case against the MS-13 leaders is fabricated entirely for propaganda purposes and that none of the charges are true. “This is an operation of psychological warfare,” according to Paolo Luers, a former gang truce mediator and opposition political activist. Luers says the government is trying to justify the harsh measures it adopted earlier this year to crack down on gang violence and to create distrust among MS-13’s leadership.

Luers told the Fusion Media Group that the gangs would never fight a war against the government. He says even trying to launch such a war would mean “the beginning of the end” of gang influence in Salvadoran villages, communities, and neighborhoods. The MS-13’s members themselves, in a “communique” released in June, insisted that “we don’t have any interest in involving the country in war.”

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Whether or not the insurgents in El Salvador are planning war, the number of Salvadoran families arriving in the United States suggests that most Salvadorans have no faith in their government to keep the peace. For these families, the risks of traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border are small compared to the danger of continuing to live in violence that could quickly turn into civil war.

IS REFUGEE OR ASYLUM STATUS RIGHT FOR YOU?

If you have fled from El Salvador, you may qualify for either refugee status or asylum status in the U.S. If you are currently not in the United States, you must apply for refugee status, but those who make it to the U.S.-Mexican border may apply for asylum status. Both statuses give legal protection to immigrants who are afraid to return home. Those approved for refugee or asylum status are authorized to seek work in the U.S. and may apply for lawful permanent residence – a green card – after only a year.

Not every Salvadoran will qualify for refugee or asylum status. Immigrants applying for asylum or refugee status should first discuss their particular case with an experienced Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney. The right immigration lawyer can also see to it that all of your legal paperwork and documents are in order, since any errors could delay approval for refugee or asylum status.

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Honestly, very few immigrants are eventually approved for asylum status in the United States. Only one in twenty of the immigrants who received green cards in 2011 entered the U.S. as asylum seekers. Yet the imperative for legal protection is greater now than ever. Drug wars and gang violence dominate much of Central America, while ethnic violence and religious warfare continue to pose threats in north Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the globe.

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRANT BE APPROVED FOR ASYLUM STATUS?

To petition for asylum status, you must submit a USCIS Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal) within a year of entering the U.S. Spouses and unmarried children under age 21 already in the United States may be included in your petition. After a year, those granted asylum may apply for a green card by submitting USCIS Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status). You must submit a separate Form I-485 for a family member who was granted derivative asylum on the basis of your own case.

You’ll have to wait 150 days – or until your asylum status is approved, whichever comes first – to apply for employment authorization. After 150 days, if no determination regarding asylum status has been made, you may petition for work authorization by submitting USCIS Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). Make sure that an experienced Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney helps you with the application forms and other legal documents.

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Historically, the United States has been a beacon of hope to immigrants everywhere who seek a better life for themselves and their families. Immigration law in the United States is exceedingly complex – in fact, it’s a broken and antiquated immigration system badly in need of reform. But with a bit of patience, a bit of effort, and sound legal advice from the right immigration attorney, most immigrants can move ahead successfully with their plans for a better life in the United States.

U.S. Lawmakers Propose Revisions To Prevent H-1B Visa Misuse

Abuse of the H-1B visa program is now a national controversy. In June, the New York Times reported that H-1B visas are “being used by American employers to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor.” That abuse, which potentially threatens the future of the H-1B visa program, needs to stop, because attracting talented workers in science, math, engineering, and technology is essential for U.S. economic success and growth in the years ahead. U.S. employers who genuinely need H-1B employees are also victims of the abuse because it makes fewer H-1B visas available for their legitimate, intended purpose.

H-1B visas are designed for college-educated international employees in occupations requiring highly specialized knowledge, but only when such hiring will not depress prevailing wages. Nevertheless, in many cases, laid-off American workers have reportedly been forced to train their lower-paid foreign replacements. Companies accused of abusing the H-1B visa program include Abbott Laboratories, the health care conglomerate based in Illinois, Southern California Edison, Disney, Toys “R” Us, and New York Life.

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Loopholes in the immigrations laws are at least partially responsible for the abuse. In many cases, U.S.-based businesses that employ H-1B international workers are not even required to consider U.S. workers before hiring from abroad. Many businesses outsource the actual hiring of H-1B workers to companies like Infosys and Tata, temporary staffing firms mostly located in India.

IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR QUICK IMMIGRATION REFORM?

Comprehensive immigration reform has been stalled in Congress for several years, and there’s little hope now for any significant reform until a new Congress convenes in 2017. U.S. employers who genuinely need to hire H-1B workers should consider seeking legal advice and services from an experienced Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney who can explain the H-1B program and its requirements.

Until recently, abuse of the H-1B visa program has been overlooked by lawmakers because attention has been so focused on other immigration issues – problems with border security and the controversy over President Obama’s executive orders regarding deferred action. While lawmakers are only now focusing on H-1B visa abuse, the U.S. workers impacted by it have been silent for only one reason.

Most displaced U.S. workers had to agree not to criticize their former employers as a condition of severance pay. As explained by the New York Times in June, these “nondisparagement agreements” – gag orders, for all practical purposes – have kept laid-off employees away from the public’s attention while allowing the employers to defend their hiring procedures as legal. Technically, the employers are in fact operating within the law – they’re simply exploiting its loopholes.

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However, that’s changing. More than a dozen ex-employees at Abbott have filed claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging they were discriminated against because of their U.S. citizenship. Ex-Disney employees have also filed federal lawsuits charging Disney and two outsourcing firms of colluding to replace U.S. workers with foreign nationals holding H-1B visas.

Leaders of both political parties have questioned the use of nondisparagement agreements. Senator Richard Durbin, the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, have both offered proposed revisions to current immigration laws that would allow laid-off U.S. employees replaced by international workers to challenge their layoffs legally.

WHAT ARE LAWMAKERS SAYING ABOUT H-1B ABUSE?

“I have heard from workers who are fearful of retaliation,” Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told the New York Times. “They are told they can say whatever they want, except they can’t say anything negative about being fired.” Senator Durbin, who is from Illinois, vigorously criticized the layoffs and said that Abbott’s nondisparagement clause was “overly broad.”

Do foreign nationals participating in the H-1B visa program fill a legitimate gap in the U.S. labor force, or is the H-1B program exploited by some U.S. employers merely to save dollars at the expense of U.S. workers? That’s the concern that many are now expressing. Professor Hal Salzman, a labor expert at Rutgers University, told the Times that because of the loopholes, in the last five years, thousands of U.S. workers have been replaced by foreign nationals holding H-1B temporary visas.

Although many suspect that some U.S. businesses take advantage of the H-1B visa program simply to reduce labor costs, the Brookings Institution has published statistics demonstrating that foreign nationals holding H-1B visas, in fact, earn more than equally qualified U.S. workers in comparable jobs. Exploiting the H-1B visa program to boost the corporate bottom line is wrong, but it’s something we can all understand. Although the Department of Labor announced in 2015 that it is cracking down on U.S.-based businesses that exploit the H-1B visa program, what Congress really must do is close the loopholes that allow the abuses to continue legally.

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CAN U.S. EMPLOYERS STILL OBTAIN AND BENEFIT FROM H-1B VISAS?

Does the ongoing controversy mean that a U.S.-based business can no longer benefit from the H-1B visa program? Absolutely not. Despite the abuses, no employer in the United States has an edge over any other company in the pursuit of H-1B visas. And it’s never too early for employers to start preparing for next year’s H-1B filing period. The qualifications for H-1B visas are quite strict, and as you probably are aware, the demand for H-1B exceeds the supply.

U.S.-based employers are supposed to use the H-1B visas exclusively to hire international workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge. Raising the current cap on the number of H-1B visas that Congress authorizes each year would help close the gap between the low number of H-1B visas and the continually-expanding needs of growing U.S.-based businesses.

Stopping the abuse of the H-1B visa program is also an absolute imperative. Visas now being used by some employers simply to save money would become available to the employers who genuinely need highly-skilled international workers. International employees who receive H-1B visas must hold at least a bachelor’s degree. They are allowed to work in the U.S. for up to six years.

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Since 2005, Congress has capped the number of H-1B visas made available annually at 85,000, with 20,000 of those visas set aside for workers holding advanced degrees from U.S. institutions. H-1B visas will continue to be difficult – but not impossible – for employers to acquire until comprehensive immigration reform passes and the current abuses are ended. If you’re an employer in the United States attempting to acquire one or more H-1B visas, a Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney can handle the visa petitions on your behalf and help you to understand your legal obligations as an employer of H-1B visa holders.

What’s Next For The Supreme Court’s Dapa/Daca Immigration Case?

Back in 2014, when President Obama issued executive orders regarding immigration, no one foresaw the legal battle that would ensue. Now that two lower courts have ruled on the challenge to the president’s executive actions, the Supreme Court has made the case a priority. The justices will hear oral arguments in U.S. v. Texas on Monday, April 18th. The court could render a decision as early as June, ruling on several questions concerning the proposed “DAPA” program and the expanded “DACA” program. The decision – certain to be controversial – could be issued just days before this summer’s Republican and Democratic national conventions.

Texas and other states are disputing the authority of the president to allow the issuance of temporary work permits and to offer relief from the possibility of deportation to as many as five million immigrants in the U.S. who are here without documentation. Neither DACA nor DAPA offers a path to citizenship or even legal permanent residence. What the programs do offer to qualifying individuals is temporary authorization to work in the United States and temporary protection from deportation.

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WHAT ARE DACA AND DAPA, AND WHO QUALIFIES?

DACA offers deferred action on immigration to qualified immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as minors by their parents. DAPA offers deferred action on immigration to qualifying immigrant parents of children with citizenship or lawful permanent residence. The case the Supreme Court will hear does not impact the existing DACA program but only the president’s efforts to expand it. Qualifying immigrants may still request an initial grant or a renewal of DACA according to the original regulations implemented in 2012.

The White House argues that the executive actions are merely prosecutorial discretion – the government cannot possibly pursue five or eleven million people, so the White House believes that DACA and DAPA will free up enforcement resources so that immigration authorities can focus on dangerous criminals. Opponents of the president’s approach say it amounts to amnesty for lawbreakers and sidesteps the normal legislative process.

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Texas represents a coalition of states that oppose the Obama Administration. The president announced the DACA expansion and DAPA programs in executive actions in November 2014, and the dispute has been working its way through the lower courts since that time. The Supreme Court is currently short one justice after the unexpected death of Antonin Scalia in February, so in the case of a 4-4 tie, the lower court ruling – favoring the states and freezing the DACA and DAPA programs – would stand.

HOW WOULD DAPA BENEFIT EVERYONE?

The Center for American Progress says the DAPA program could create more than 20,000 new jobs a year for the next ten years. The Center additionally says DAPA could boost GDP by $164 billion over the next decade and add $88 billion to the personal incomes of working Americans. According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), 72 percent of the undocumented immigrants in the U.S., despite their lack of legal status, will participate in the work force this year, and 3.7 million of them would qualify for DAPA. Those workers could pay up to $16.7 billion in taxes in the next five years if the Supreme Court gives DAPA a green light to proceed.

Some observers were surprised to see the court ask both sides in the case to address whether the president’s actions violate the “Take Care” clause of the Constitution, which says a president must “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Neither of the lower courts, which heard the case, addressed this legal claim. The Supreme Court’s request suggests that the justices want to resolve all of the issues in the case now, rather than to leave open a constitutional loophole that could be the basis for future litigation.

Alternately, the justices could dismiss the case for the lack of legal standing to bring a challenge. In other words, the Supreme Court may decide that the states may have no legal grounds to stand on. Texas and the other plaintiff states have argued that their legal standing is based on the added costs that states might incur to issue drivers’ licenses to beneficiaries of the deferred action programs.

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It’s likely that the DAPA program will proceed – possibly as early as this summer. Speaking for the Obama Administration last year, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said, “We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do.” Immigrants who qualify for the DACA or DAPA programs should be prepared to act if the Supreme Court rules in their favor.

WHERE CAN YOU TURN TO LEARN MORE?

Some immigrants in the U.S. may be hesitant to speak with an attorney. Don’t be afraid or intimidated. When you obtain the advice of a licensed and practicing Ohio immigration attorney, anything you say or disclose to that attorney will remain confidential. When immigrants seek legal counsel, they’re sometimes surprised to find that they qualify for immigration benefits and that their legal situation was not as dire as they thought.

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If you are an immigrant who qualifies for the DACA or DAPA program, or if you are a U.S.-based employer who hires immigrant workers, right now is the best time to discuss with an immigration attorney how immigration law impacts you. While the final determination regarding the DACA and DAPA programs is being made by the U.S. Supreme Court, this is the best time for immigrants – and the employers who hire them –  to seek legal advice.

WHAT ELSE NEEDS TO BE DONE?

An estimated eleven million immigrants still live “in the shadows,” and honestly, even if the president’s executive actions are approved by the Supreme Court – and the DACA and DAPA programs proceed – much more needs to be done in the way of comprehensive immigration reform. Only Congress has the legal ability to do what ultimately needs to be done to fix immigration.

Until comprehensive immigration reform takes place, immigrants and the employers who hire them will continue to need legal help. A good Ohio immigration attorney, for example, can help employers, investors, and business professionals obtain the visas they need and can also provide legal advice and services to anyone seeking a visa or dealing with immigration issues. The Supreme Court’s ruling this summer in U.S. v. Texas will be vitally important to millions, but whatever the justices decide, plenty of concerns with the immigration system will remain.

Where Do H-1B Visas Go?

In January 2010, the senior executives at Molina Healthcare, located in Long Beach, California, conducted a staff meeting. Dozens of people in Molina’s IT department would have to be laid off, the executives announced, because the company had done so poorly in the preceding quarter. What the laid-off employees did not suspect at the time was that on the day before the staff meeting, the U.S. Department of Labor had approved applications for forty temporary workers from India to replace them at Molina Healthcare. The laid-off workers, all U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, earned an average of $75,000 a year plus benefits. Their replacements would earn $50,000 a year with no benefits.

Big companies have been just as guilty of abusing temporary worker visas as smaller companies. In October 2014, 250 IT employees at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in Florida were told that they would be laid off. Layoffs, of course, are not uncommon, but what made this layoff newsworthy was the sense that the workers had been insulted. They were told that in order to receive their severance pay, they would be obligated to train their own replacements – IT workers from India entering the United States with H-1B visas.

In response, two former Disney tech employees filed federal lawsuits against the company in January 2016, accusing Disney of conspiring to replace the workers with less costly foreign employees using H-1B visas. The lawsuits were filed in federal court in the Middle District of Florida by Leo Perrero and Dena Moore, who were among 250 Disney tech workers laid off in October 2014. The lawsuits seek class-action status.

Separately, more than twenty of the laid-off Disney workers have also filed complaints with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). Those complaints remain under EEOC review. The complaints allege employment discrimination by Disney based on nationality, race and age. The incident at Disney also launched another round of contentious debates about the use – and some would charge, the abuse – of H-1B visas. For international workers with a college degree and specialized skills in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), the H-1B is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa that is good for three years and renewable for a second three years.

Ohio immigration attorney

WHY THE CONTROVERSY?

Two competing, conflicting narratives confuse the H-1B visa debate and to some extent the entire question of immigration in the United States. One narrative tells us that immigrants are taking jobs from U.S. workers, and it emphasizes stories like the incidents at Molina and Disney. The other narrative says that attracting talented workers in science, math, engineering, and technology is essential for U.S. economic success and growth in the years ahead. Currently, Congress caps the number of available H-1B visas at 65,000 a year (and another 20,000 for post-graduate degree-holders in STEM fields). Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates are all strong advocates of increasing the number of available H-1B visas as a means of increasing U.S. technical and commercial ingenuity and strength.

The question many are asking about H-1B visas is simply this: Do international workers in the H-1B visa program fill a genuine gap in the labor force, or is the H-1B program being abused by some U.S. corporations simply as a way to save a few dollars at the expense of U.S. workers? Even the most expert economic researchers disagree. A report by the Economic Policy Institute alleges that some U.S. companies exploit the H-1B program merely to cut their labor costs. The Brookings Institution, however, has figures showing that the international workers who hold H-1B visas are actually making more than their comparably-talented American counterparts in similar positions. The H-1B visa program was designed so that U.S. companies could fill gaps in the work force with specialized employees they cannot find in the United States, but some companies apparently try to take advantage of the H-1B program’s technicalities and loopholes.

In fact, one corporation has already been fined for engaging in visa fraud. Infosys paid the government a $34 million penalty in 2013. Exploiting the H-1B visa program to boost the corporate bottom line is something we can all understand, but that is not what H-1B visas are for, and the government is now taking measures to ensure that the program remains fair to U.S.-based workers like those laid off by Disney and Molina. A large number of workers flooding into the United States and displacing U.S.-based workers is not what Congress intended when the H-1B visa program was established, so in 2015, the Department of Labor announced that it is beefing up its enforcement efforts and will be investigating companies that may be taking unfair advantage of the H-1B visa program.

Ohio immigration attorney

WHO GETS THE VISAS?

Where do H-1B visas actually go? One-fifth of all H-1B petitions approved in 2012 went to just four companies: Cognizant Technology Solutions, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, and Wipro. The latter three are among India’s biggest outsourcing giants. Cognizant, based in New Jersey, emerged out of a partnership between Dun & Bradstreet and an Indian firm. Many U.S. companies – Walmart and 7-Eleven, for example – hire these outsourcing firms for their IT needs. When Molina Healthcare fired its IT staff, for example, it did not apply to the government for H-1B workers to replace them. Instead, Molina got its new employees through Cognizant. And Infosys isn’t the only outsourcing company that has been investigated and targeted for legal action. In 2013, Tata Consultancy Services paid $29 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by Indian workers who were being forced by the company to hand over their U.S. income tax refunds.

Of course, when the H-1B visa program was invented by Congress back in 1990, no one thought that Indian outsourcing firms would be the biggest participants and beneficiaries. Does any of this mean that a typical small or midsize U.S.-based business cannot benefit from the H-1B visa program? Not at all. Even with the annual visa cap still set at 65,000, the government is working harder now than ever to ensure that the awarding of visas is conducted fairly and that no U.S.-based employer has an advantage over any other employer in the H-1B competition. Employers across the nation are already preparing for this year’s April 1 filing date, but if you haven’t started preparing, it’s probably too late to begin for this year, although it’s never too early to start preparing for next year’s H-1B filing period. The qualifications for H-1B visas are quite strict, and as you already know, the demand far exceeds the supply for these visas.

Ohio immigration attorney

WHERE CAN EMPLOYERS FIND HELP?

If you are an employer in the United States, a good immigration lawyer can help your company meet all of the requirements for obtaining H-1B visas, provide you with precise, comprehensive information, and help you avoid the mistakes and misunderstandings that keep many employers from obtaining the H-1B visas they need. In other words, an experienced immigration attorney can put employers in the best possible position to obtain H-1B visas and can probably also help employers identify appropriate visa alternatives to the H-1B. Employers who need H-1B visas should arrange to speak at once with an experienced Ohio immigration attorney.

Work authorization through the H-1B program is strictly limited to employment offered by a sponsoring U.S.-based employer. H-1B regulations do not compel a visa holder to remain with the sponsoring employer for a specific length of time, provided that a new qualifying employer agrees to sponsor the employee for another H-1B visa. And while a handful of companies still receive quite a large number of H-1B visas, there’s nothing preventing your company from obtaining H-1B visas if the other immigration and employment requirements are met.

U.S.-based companies applying for H-1B visas must prove they are “real” companies by showing the government documents like tax returns, a tax ID number, or financial statements. An H-1B visa petition will be rejected without adequate accompanying documentation. The application may also be denied if the job that’s being offered is not a “specialty” occupation. A good immigration lawyer can tell employers exactly what will be required.

Ohio immigration attorney

U.S.-based companies that hire foreign national employees with H-1B visas should understand from the start that they will have to comply with scores of sometimes confusing immigration laws and related employment regulations. Several federal government agencies may inspect and scrutinize your records and operations to verify your compliance. Investigations of employers are routine, and those investigations may be initiated by USCIS or by the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or the U.S. State Department.

Admittedly, U.S. immigration laws are antiquated, exceedingly complicated, and sometimes just plain impossible to understand. If you are a U.S. employer who is interested in hiring temporary international workers, obtain the legal help you need right away from an experienced Ohio immigration attorney. You may not make this year’s April 1 H-1B deadline, but you can prepare for next year and learn about your other options and the alternatives to the H-1B visa. Employers, hiring managers, and international workers may speak to an experienced Ohio immigration attorney by phone or by e-mail to have your questions answered or to begin the complicated visa petition process.

Temporary Visas For Journalists And Performers

If you want to enter the United States temporarily for employment, the precise work you perform and the precise nature of your employer’s business will determine which visa is right for you. If you are a working international journalist or performer – or if you work with a journalist or a performer in a support capacity – have your immigration concerns addressed and obtain the sound legal advice you need by consulting a seasoned, trustworthy Ohio immigration lawyer. If you are planning to enter and work in the United States, make the call now. If you qualify, you should have no trouble obtaining a visa, but visas do take time, so you’ll want to avoid any mistakes or misunderstandings that could delay the process. Let an immigration attorney help.

If you are a print, television, internet, or radio journalist entering the United States exclusively to gather news, and you have no intention to remain in the country, you’ll need to apply for an “I” visa. It’s issued to reporters, editors, directors, producers, technicians, and photojournalists. The I visa allows you to work in the U.S. for only a specified employer; free-lance work is not allowed. An I visa has an expiration date and does not provide a path to a green card or to U.S. citizenship.

If you are entering the United States to work in film or television as an actor, director, or producer, you’ll need to apply for an O-1 visa. Applicants must have a U.S. employer or sponsor and demonstrate a record of “extraordinary” achievement such as awards, award nominations, and a history of successful film or television endeavors. Television and film crew members who assist O-1 visa recipients may be provided with the O-2 visa.

If you perform as an individual or as part of a group, you’ll need to apply for the P-1 temporary visa. The P-2 visa is for those who accompany the P-1 visa holder and assist with that performer’s work. You’ll need a legal employment contract to acquire any one of these visas, along with some preparation, patience, and the advice and services of an experienced immigration attorney. If you are a foreign-national journalist or performer, or if you are the employer, obtain the advice and legal services you need and speak right away with an experienced Ohio immigration lawyer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honesty Is Still The Best Policy

If an immigrant marries a U.S. citizen only to get a green card, or if a foreign national in the United States claims falsely to be a U.S. citizen, either of those deceptions can result in the permanent denial of immigration benefits. If you want to obtain a visa, a green card, or naturalized U.S. citizenship, the best way is to have the guidance of a trustworthy immigration attorney here in the U.S. There’s never a need for deception. An experienced Columbus immigration lawyer can usually help you reach your goals in the United States.

When a U.S. citizen takes money to marry a foreign national – or does it “as a favor” – it’s marriage fraud. “Mail-order” marriages are fraudulent if obtaining a green card is one party’s only reason for marrying. Tricking a U.S. citizen into marriage – and making that person think the marriage will be “for real” – is also marriage fraud. A marriage performed solely for the purpose of dodging immigration laws constitutes the crime of marriage fraud. You can serve up to five years in a federal prison and be fined up to $250,000 if you are convicted of marriage fraud. Both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens may be prosecuted for fraudulent marriages.

If you are not a United States citizen, it’s never a wise idea to claim that you are. It won’t help you obtain a car loan, rent an apartment, or land a job. You’ll be caught, possibly deported, and probably charged with criminal fraud. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you cannot claim citizenship to get a loan, a home, a passport, or anything else. When you complete an I-9 employment form, you must tell the truth. Deception can’t help you, but an experienced Columbus immigration lawyer usually can. Obtain the sound legal advice and guidance you need to reach your goals in the U.S. by contacting an experienced Columbus immigration lawyer as quickly as possible.