New Bill Would Make it Easier to Travel to US for Business or Pleasure

By | Immigration Policy | 192 Comments

The newest industry to push Congress for changes to the country’s visa processing policies might be a surprise. It is the tourism industry.

The International Tourism Facilitation Act was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, D. Minn., and Roy Blunt, R. Mo., in October to make it easier for people to visit the United States from around the world.

Klobuchar and Blunt pushed the proposal as a potential economic lift for the country. About 10 percent of all the jobs created so far this year in the United States were tourism jobs, according to a press release from Klobuchar’s Senate office. Each visitor from overseas spent about $4,000 in this country in 2010.

The bill’s goal is to cut long wait times at consulates and American embassies around the world that can prevent people from visiting the United States. The bill also would give the State Department incentives to make the changes.

“By streamlining our visa processing system without jeopardizing our nation’s security, we can help spur economic development and job creation,” Blunt said in a release.

The U.S. Travel Association was quick to support the proposed bill. “International business and leisure travelers stimulate our economy, and the ‘International Tourism Facilitation Act’ is the legislation our country needs to create U.S. jobs and to improve our visa process,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association in a release.

The USTA also said the State Department simply cannot meet its own goals for timely processing of applications in some markets. Provisions in the bill would allow the State Department to reinvest application fees on infrastructure to meet growing demand.

Travelers discouraged by visa wait times will take their dollars elsewhere around the world. The Boston Globe reported in November that the 10-year change in long-haul arrivals in the United States had remained an almost-flat two percent while the numbers in China and India jumped 126 percent and 124 percent respectfully.

These visas are not just necessary for people wanting to see the Grand Canyon or a Dodgers game, many of the people in line for these visas want to visit their children in grad school or network with professionals at a business conference. Even though these types of visitors will not choose another country to visit instead, they would likely come more often if it was made simpler for them.

The USTA even put together a website with clever graphics, videos and cartoons to help illustrate the need for visa reform: www.smartervisapolicy.org.
An attorney with visa application experience can help get clients through the process so their family can come visit for business or pleasure.

A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at https://www.visatous.com.

How Arapiao and others justify discrimination today

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments
A few weeks ago I was in a spin class taught by this ultra conservative Christian teacher who had openly professed that the tsunami in Asia happened because “God punished those heathens.”  The teacher was substituting the class, which was supposed to be a non religious spin class. (In her own class she only plays Christian music).  I asked her if she was playing Christian music, not because I dislike Christian music, but because at 5:45 am I want something loud with a fast rhythm. She immediately had it in for me. She did not play Christian music, but tried to correct the way I sat on a spin bike.  Not the adjustment and bike setting, but my posture. I do a ton of spin classes and have been doing them for quite some time to know what to do. She obviously wanted to mess me up, so that I would injure my knees. When I told her to stay away, she immediately derided me publicly and said I was anti Christian. (with her microphone). She also tried to justify it by saying that she is a certified instructor and was trying to “correct me.”

Yes, you can justify discrimination. The slave masters did it.  And so does Maricopa county Sheriff, Joe Arapiao. How can you justify making illegal criminals wear pink underwear in jail and countless other indiscretions.  How can you justify stopping people simply because of the color of their skin? How can you justify not looking into sexual misconducts against Hispanic victims? By blaming the Obama Administration as using this as political move. Exactly like the spin teacher derided me for being anti Christian when I told her to stay away. Arapiao said, “Don’t come here and use me as a whipping boy for a national and international problem,” he said. “We are proud of the work we have done to fight illegal immigration. ”  


The Justice Department released a scathing report after a long investigation, and the DHS revoked the counties ability to assist it in the Secure Communities Program. 


Yes, I understand that the Republicans hate illegal immigrants. And yes, we need to pass legislation. But how can America justify violating the civil rights of anyone? Interestingly the forefathers of these same people thought trading and selling slaves was OK.  And these forefathers at that time blamed the then Republican Lincoln of political moves. 


Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information



Supreme Court to hear Arizona's Immigration Law

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments
The Supreme Court has given certiorari to the Arizona case dealing with illegal immigrants. However the Supreme Court will only address the following questions:

  • Section 2(B), which requires local police officers to investigate the immigration status of any person they stop or detain whom they possess “reasonable suspicion” to believe is unlawfully present in the United States;
  • Section 3, which makes it a crime under Arizona law for foreign nationals to fail to carry or apply for registration papers provided by the federal government;
  • Section 5, which makes it a crime under Arizona law for immigrants to solicit, apply for, or perform work without federal employment authorization; and
  • Section 6, which authorizes local police officers to arrest foreign nationals whom they have “probable cause” to believe have committed an offense making them deportable from the United States.
Thus the court has thankfully left the bigger question of whether individual states have the right to rule on Federal Immigration issue alone.  Knowing that the justices are conservative, they would probably rule for State rights which would create a mess.
Justice Kagan is recusing herself. This means that the court will be heavily Conservative. And most probably they will rule for Arizona’s ability to keep the provisions alive. However in Alabama, a German Manager from a Mercedes Benz plant and a Japanese Manager from a Honda plant was detained by police.  These companies will eventually leave Alabama. So good luck to the businesses in Arizona. 
Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information

Lockbox Facilities Take Citizenship Applications into Digital Age

By | Immigration Policy | 88 Comments

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently changed the processing method for some naturalization and citizenship forms, often called N-Forms.

In an attempt to streamline the collection and processing and improve the consistency of intake, USCIS now requires all N-300, N-336, N-600 and N-600K forms to be secure lockbox facilities instead of local offices.

The N-300 form is an application for a permanent resident to file declaration of intention to become a U.S. citizen. The N-366 form is a request for a hearing on a naturalization proceedings decision. The N-600 form is an application for a citizenship certificate. The N-600K form is an application for citizenship for a child who lives abroad to get U.S. citizenship because of the child’s parents.

USCIS began using the lockbox facilities in 2001 to electronically process information from forms, forward that information to the appropriate location, collect fees and generate acceptance or rejection notices.

Beginning in 2007, USCIS has been moving all fee-based immigration forms to this new lockbox system. Because the USCIS is a congressionally mandated and self-funded agency, the timely and accurate collection of fees is imperative. In FY 2009, the agency’s lockbox facilities processed almost 4.5 million applications and more than $1 billion in fees. Last year, USCIS used the lockbox centers to process more than $1.6 billion in fees, according to the agency.

USCIS has lockbox facilities in Chicago, Phoenix and Dallas and a data verification office supporting the lockbox facilities in Burlington, Vt. The immigration forms include the correct address to the lockbox facilities.

In addition to streamlining the application and fee collection process, the lockbox facilities may also free up the local offices to handle daily issues regarding immigration.

The move to lockbox locations has not been without its challenges. About a year ago, the Office of Intake and Document Production Lockbox Processing published a report outlining issues that came up and fixes the agency applied to correct the problems. In response to stakeholder concerns, USCIS changed the working on rejection notices so they would be easier to understand and retrained some employees on which applications to accept and which to deny based on the timing of some forms.

An undertaking of this magnitude is going to create a number of issues to be resolved as the process changes, and the lockbox transition has had plenty.
An experienced immigration attorney can help navigate all the changes in USCIS’ forms and processing. In order to not waste money on fees that are sent in with the wrong forms to the wrong location, contact Houston immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee. To learn more, visit https://www.visatous.com.

A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at https://www.visatous.com.

Knowledge of English for Citizenship Tests

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments
One of the requirements of the US Citizenship test is that the applicant demonstrate knowledge of English.  Many applicant, especially with limited knowledge of English take this to mean that if they pass the civics test, that is enough. However knowledge of English is a separate requirement than the knowledge of Civics. The law defines it as, “an understanding of the English language, including the ability to read, write and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language. ”  However the law only requires a “reasonable test of literacy” and that “no extraordinary or unreasonable conditions shall be imposed on the applicant.”
The English written test uses sentences using simple words prescribed by USCIS. Thus those sentences are not unreasonable.  However the oral test is left up to the discretion of individual officers. In my experience, when some officers see applicants with limited knowledge of English, they get harder. I have had several officers ask applicants, after swearing-in to tell the truth, the definition of truth. Everyone knows what the word truth means, but it’s very hard to define a concept.  In fact, we should ask Rick Perry to define it on the spot and see how he does. I have also seen officers ask the definition of what it means to ‘swear allegiance.”  Yes, try define that Mr. Texas Governor.
On the other hand though I come across clients who parrot the answers to the 100 questions, and expect to vomit it out in the exam and pass. And yes, they pass the civics portion, but they don’t understand a word of English. An applicant must know enough English to be able to function in society, (ie do jury duty) and be able to make a reasonable decision during elections. And that means understanding people with somewhat more brain than Rick Perry. 
My best advice is to learn the 100 questions, but also to watch English TV.  TV is a fun and painless way to learn enough English to pass the Naturalization test.

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information

New Immigration Bill Would Improve Visa Options for Skilled Workers

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | 126 Comments

Republican Congressmen Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Lamar Smith of Texas introduced a legal immigration bill in September that would make it easier for skilled workers from some countries to get visas to stay in the United States and work.

Reform proponents have said American policy does not leave enough room for scientists and engineers from places like India and China to remain in the United States after school and help bolster this country’s technology sector.

The new bill, H.R. 3012, would eliminate the country-by-country limits on the 140,000 visas given to skilled workers annually. As the law is written now, each country is limited to only seven percent of the total, but some countries like India have far more applicants as a percentage.

In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in September, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the current laws are hurting the country.

“Right now, Iceland gets the same quota as India,” he told the Immigration and American Competitive Conference in Washington, D.C. “It just makes no sense. I have nothing against Iceland, but just think about where the next engineers and the entrepreneurs are going to come from.”

Chaffetz said the bill will help to encourage skilled workers to stay in the United States after school and contribute to the economy.

“Per country limits make no sense in the context of employment-based visas,” Chaffetz said in a press release. “By removing per country limits, American companies will be able to access the best talent.”

The bill, called the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, would not adjust the total number of available visas. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

Smith and Chaffetz’s bill reflects a push by business leaders and politicians to separate the need to reform the nation’s legal immigration policy from the politically charged debate over illegal immigration policy.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July, NASDAQ CEO Robert Greifeld asked the committee to let the legal immigration reform discussion happen on its own.

“Americans are losing jobs and opportunity while we let one issue drag down the other,” he said.

As legislators inch closer to reforming American immigration laws with an eye toward economic recovery, graduate students are acutely aware of the bureaucratic hassles before them if they choose to stay in the United States after graduation.

Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee works with clients who want to stay in the United States and work. The Law Offices of Annie Banerjee has more than 10 years of experience helping graduate students and their families attain work visas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information-filled website at https://www.visatous.com.

New York Mayor Bloomberg Outlines Economic Recovery in Legal Immigration Reform

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | 138 Comments

In a keynote address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said our country must grow its way out of the economic recession and pushed for legal immigration reform to kick-start that growth.

In his speech at the Immigration and American Competitiveness Conference, Bloomberg said an economic growth initiative that expands businesses, encourages entrepreneurism, and grows our markets overseas can be done with no cost to the taxpayer, but “…we have an open and honest conversation about immigration reform based on economics rather than anything else.”

The national debate on immigration policy is bogged down in politics, he argued. And while each side of the political aisle plays to its base regarding the country’s challenges with illegal immigration, the issue of skilled workers is only slowly becoming part of the national conversation.

Bloomberg’s first suggestion was to take a hard look at visa distribution. Each year, the United States admits about one million new permanent visas. But of that million, 85 percent go to people looking for family re-unification or protection from harm, while only 15 percent are given out for work reasons, he said.

“Allocating only 15 percent of visas based on economics is just terrible public policy – and it really is holding our economy back,” he said. “I’ve called it national suicide – and I think it really is.”

He called for a dramatic increase in the number of visas given to skilled workers wanting to come to the United States or stay here after graduate school to work. “These high-skill workers will not only help create thousands of jobs, they’ll also give us knowledge of foreign markets that will help U.S. businesses increase their exports,” he said.

Bloomberg also made a case for keeping foreign students who graduate from American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.

“Let’s offer them green cards when they finish their degrees, and then we can get down to the real business of convincing them to stay because that’s not a foregone conclusion either,” he said. “We are in competition with the rest of the world for the best and the brightest.”

Our current system makes the path to citizenship for these graduates cumbersome and stressful, Bloomberg said. “Turning these students out of the country is, to put it bluntly, about the dumbest thing that we could possibly do.”

Alejandro N. Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also spoke at the conference. The USCIS is working to clarify some of the wording of the current laws to make it easier for skilled workers to stay in the country. But he acknowledged that the United States immigration policy needs adjusting.

“We well understand the obstacles our current laws present when we seek to attract and retain a greater share of talent in a world of ever-increasing competition from abroad,” he said.

Individuals who are seeking skilled worker visas or want to continue work after graduate school in the U.S. should consult a skilled immigration attorney to expedite the H-1B process for them and their family.

A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston, Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at https://www.visatous.com.

Why Americans will just not do certain jobs

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments
This week  Business week explored the subject as to why some Americans wont do “Dirty Jobs.”  After Alabama passed its most restrictive Immigration Law, the poultry industry, the fruit picking industry, the construction industry are all virtually shut down because no Americans who will take these jobs. This even though Birmingham Alabama is declaring bankruptcy and unemployment is sky high. The article says that these jobs are hard, and pay little with no benefits. The comments on the article are ablaze with how these employers should pay higher amounts and have benefits. But the article does not elucidate as to what will happen if we mandate employers to do that.
The cost of food will go up. The Americans will initially take the jobs.  Then when they discover that its hard work, they will quit. Why? because Americans have this sense of entitlement that immigrants don’t have.
This sense of entitlement amongst “true Americans” is pervasive throughout the society. Go to any ivy league college, and there are the kids who got in through legacy, who will walk around in their designer clothes as if they own the world. Yet they contrast with their immigrant classmate, who got in based on merit and continue to outperform the legacy kids in academics.  That is why you have people like George Bush and Rick Perry, graduating with a “gentleman’s C”  They never had to work hard ever in their lives.
Same is true of the blue-collar workers. They are spoiled with clean, cool working conditions with accompanying money and benefits. Make them work in the field under the burning sun or in a smelly poultry factory, and their auto industry trained body will not take it.
Yet immigrants come in, work hard and don’t complain. That is true of all immigrants , in all ages, starting from the pilgrims. They were not born into privilege. They chose to live in America and expect to work hard and go up the ladder. And that is how America was built, and that is how it became a super power.
So if we become restrictionists like Arizona and Alabama, it is our quality that will suffer.  By becoming insular and white, we will turn the clock back to the time of the Willy Lomans (Death of a Salesman) of this country.

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information

Privacy Issues in the Internet Age

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments
This week the Supreme Court heard a case as to whether the police can track an individual through a GPS (available in most smart phones) without a warrant. USCIS has also been using the internet for some time now.  For family based cases based on marriage, the officers check facebook to see the status of the person. Never mind that some people forget to update their status from single to married especially if they are not addicted to Face Book.
But what is more irritating is that USCIS uses Dun and Bradstreet (a private company) to check the address of companies filing for employment based cases. D&B extremely frequently do not update their listing of the Companies.  USCIS  “suggests” that the Employer update their information in D&B. Employers are not lawyers and get scared whenever any Government authority tells them to do something. So they call D&B, who then sign on these employers for paid listings, etc. In the end, this Government agency is enabling a private company to solicit employers and enrich their pockets.
Is this Legal? Yes, employers may not have a right to privacy, but should USCIS suggest to employers to follow up with D&B reporting? Especially when there is NO law to do so?

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information

Perm Audits

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments
The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that the Perm audits will increase. Of these audits, 24% are certified, 55 % are denied and 21% are withdrawn.

The DOL says most of the denials are in the lower skilled categories and in the financial industry. DOL feels that by denying these petitions, they are protecting American jobs. However, there are some lower skilled jobs (like machine work, technical work in the oil and gas industry) where there is a real shortage of US workers. No US Employer goes through the hassle and expense of the Immigration process if they can find qualified local grads. And by “qualified” I don’t mean the least qualified, I mean the most competitive.

The DOL also expressed surprise that 21% of the cases were withdrawn. They think that those are fraudulent filings. Not so. It takes two years for an audit. The DOL has a target time of 45-60 days for approving PERMS. Many qualified employees don’t want to wait that long.

The whole problem with restrictionist policies is that they negate free market capitalism, and thus are inherently un American.

And that is the problem of the whole PERM process. DOL just restricts the job to the least qualified individual who can do the job. Lets say the Petitioner is Bank of America. The position is an investment analyst. The minimum education requirement is a Bachelor’s Degree. The Beneficiary is a graduate in finance and Math from MIT. Lets say someone with Rick Perry’s credentials (a C from Texas A & M ) applies. Would you rather have financial advice from the American born A & M grad or the foreign-born MIT grad? By insisting on having the lowest possible credentials available to do the job, the DOL is actually dumbing down the American workforce and decreasing quality of work here.

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information