Significant Federal Guidance Letter Reminds U.S. Schools to Not Discriminate

By | News & Press | 161 Comments

The U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice recently issued a guidance letter on the rights of all children to enroll in school. The guidance from their civil rights divisions is in response to student enrollment trends that, “chill, discourage, or exclude students because of their parents’ or guardians’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status.” Both federal departments want to send a clear message to educators and school administrators that equal educational opportunities to all children living within a district are the law.

Civil rights laws and Supreme Court mandates enforce that students cannot face discrimination because of race, national origin, color, and citizenship or immigration status. Information, such as social security numbers and race, must be voluntary, and not contingent for acceptance into a school. The U.S. Supreme Court case of Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982) noted that, “denying innocent children access to a public education, imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable for their disabling status. . . . By denying these children a basic education, we deny them the ability to live within the structure of our civic institutions, and foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of our Nation.”

A school district can only restrict attendance to residents that live in the district. They can require utility bills or mortgage or lease documents to verify residency. If the school wants a birth certificate to ensure age regulations, that is permissible, but a school must accept a foreign birth certificate without prejudice. All requirements for information collection and analysis must occur across the entire student body, not just for one specific group.

“It is refreshing that the federal government is stepping up to remind the school system of their obligations to kids and their communities,” said Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee. “No child should be barred from an education.”

The guidance encourages schools and districts to review their practices to ensure they are not discriminating. And if data is not necessary for enrollment purposes, districts can do away with these stifling practices and “create a more welcoming atmosphere for all prospective students,” says the “Dear Colleague” guidance letter.

The Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Russlynn Ali, General Counsel Charles P. Rose at the U.S. Department of Education, and Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, all signed the letter and will enforce equal rights for all children to get an education.

The Law Offices of Annie Banerjee supports this guidance, and as an immigrant herself, she knows and appreciates the quality of education she received in the United States. She has more than 10 years of accomplished immigration law experience in Texas and helps individuals and families achieve their visa, green card, and citizenship goals.
For more information:
Law Offices of A. Banerjee
131 Brooks Street Suite #300
Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Phone: (281) 242-9139
Fax: (281) 242-2058

2027 Sheridan Street
Houston, Texas 77030
Phone: (713) 793-6339
[email protected]

To learn more, visit https://www.visatous.com.

The truth in Asylum cases

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments
The accuser in Dominique Strauss Kahn’s case lied to the Immigration about her Asylum case. But this is not unique.  I suspect that the majority of Asylum cases are fraudulent. I am not saying that torture doesn’t happen. It does.  But as with most things in life, its the poor people who actually suffer. Whether its the Hutu vs. Tutu, or Shia vs Sunni, its the poor that gets tortured.  And since they are poor, they don’t have the ability to come to the US. Richer people from these countries steal these stories, land here illegally and claim asylum. And that’s why I don’t do asylum cases.
I did a pro bono case from Catholic Charities once. The beneficiary was from Africa and almost moved me to tears with his story. He even showed me his scars. I wrote up volumes of affidavits, doctor’s records, etc. The story was that he was picked up during a political rally, beaten and imprisoned for three days with no food or water. His girl friend was raped in front of him. Brutal beatings. Somehow after three days he was released. Then one day at night the oppressors came knocking at the front door.  He left quietly by the back door, and in the cover of the night to the boat dock.  There he took a boat to another African country, where he purchased a fake passport, and came to America. Somehow he was let into the US, threw the passport in a garbage can at the airport, and went to Catholic Charities to file an Asylum case. His girlfriend could not come with him.
While I believed his story 100%, the immigration officer denied his case. We filed an appeal with the Immigration Judge. During the waiting though the guy told me that he has a new girlfriend, and would like to substitute her name instead. I was shocked.  The guy then gave me a completely different name of the girl friend and told me that the Catholic Charities person made the mistake in the name. This was impossible, since he read the whole affidavit in front of me. I realized that he was lying about everything.
On the hearing day, I did not guide him, other than saying, “please tell the truth.” We had an expert witness, who went through the same situation as our guy. While their main stories matched, the details of what he told the judge and what that other witness said did not match at all. His case was denied.  I did not appeal.  He took his file. He definitely filed an appeal with another attorney, and probably by now has his Green card.
For more information contact Houston Immigration Lawyer or Houston Immigration Attorney, Annie Banerjee

Top US Science Competition Highlights Immigrant Contributions

By | Immigration Policy | 184 Comments

The 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition produced some interesting results – 70 percent of the finalists are children of immigrant parents. The National Foundation for American Policy researched the competition, which is the most prestigious science and math event for U.S. high school students. Only 12 of the 40 finalists have parents that were born in the United States. The bulk has parents who hail from China, India, South Korea, and Iran and came to the U.S. on H-1B visas.

Many of them immigrated to the U.S. to better their life and enable their children to achieve more. The NFAP found that immigrant parents encouraged their children to focus on their education and leadership roles in extracurricular activities. A good percentage of the finalists’ parents came to the U.S. as exchange students.

The role of immigrants and the influence they have on their children’s upbringing is vast. “Our immigration policies must not be allowed to deprive our country of the contributions that these kids are making here,” said the NFAP study. “The benefit America derives from the children of immigrants in science and math is an additional advantage the country reaps from being open to talent from around the world. Americans should take pride in our openness to individuals and their children who can succeed in the United States without regard to class or place of birth. The talents possessed by these children of immigrants are a wonderful gift to America, a gift we can all benefit from in the future so long as we can allow talented foreign nationals to come to the United States and pursue their American dreams.”

H-1B visa holders range from exchange students, skilled immigrants, and family-sponsored foreigners. These types of visas are good for three years, with an extension of up to six years. Of special note, H-1B visa holders only make up one percent of the entire U.S. population. Smart immigration policies to attract the right caliber of individuals and families can go a long way to improving America’s competitive stance. Harsh immigration policies will only “…shut off the flow of a key segment of America’s next generation of scientists and engineers” said the NFAP study.

In Texas, two out of the three finalists have foreign-born parents. The two students, Sunil Kochikar Pai from Houston and Rounok Joardar from Plano, have Indian-born parents. Pai created a new way to measure electron transfer properties of molecules for the Intel competition. His after-school activities include cross country, golf, and tennis as well as playing in the orchestra and being president of the math club and the youth division of the Houston Konkani Association. Joardar built a high-efficiency hybrid concentrator solar cell. His research pushes to replace fossil fuels. In 2010, Joardar won first place in engineering at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. He is fluent in Bengali and taken many years of Spanish.

Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee understands the benefits of an American education as she came to the U.S. for graduate school and the American dream. The Law Offices of Annie Banerjee are known for their skill at helping individuals, families, and businesses with the H-1B process. For more than 10 years she has helped clients achieve their immigration goals.

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.

DREAM Act Provides Chance for Reform and Youths to Become Legal Citizens

By | Immigration Policy | 5 Comments

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 is a huge immigration bill that not only increases security and immigration enforcement but allows children who have been in the U.S. to obtain legal status if they meet certain guidelines. Part of this reform is the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) that would let children who came to the U.S. before 16 years old, and have been here for at least five years, to become legal citizens. They would have to graduate high school, have good morals and a clean criminal record, and go to college or enlist in the military for two years to be eligible.

“The need for Congress to enact real immigration reform could not be any more urgent,” said Eleanor Pelta, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “Immigration reform would aid our economy and provide fairness to taxpayers, job creators, and families that now get hopelessly entangled in the dysfunctional system.”

Instead of living every day with the fear of getting deported, these kids could better contribute to the success of America, say the bill’s supporters. These teens, who are honor roll students, athletes, and hard working, just want a fair chance to stay in the country that gave them many opportunities. With legalization, the bill’s proponents say that these teens would contribute to the American workforce in many beneficial ways. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “…they’d be paying more taxes, starting businesses and creating jobs, all of which would infuse a much-needed kick-start to the economy and help drive down the national debt.”

The U.S. House of Representatives supported this legislation last year, but it has been an uphill battle in the Senate in 2011. Senate Republicans are more focused on U.S.-Mexico border security and enforcement provisions, and concerned that legalizing these students could bring unintended consequences. Arne Duncan noted that three million jobs have gone unfilled in the U.S. in science, mathematics, technology, and education that these students could be perfect for. Look at the Intel Science Talent Search competition, for example, and the roster is full of students who are high achievers and were born outside the U.S.

In Texas, Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee understands just what these students are going through. She came to the U.S. for graduate school, became a citizen, and is positively contributing to the economy. The Law Offices of Annie Banerjee are known for their skill at helping individuals, families, and businesses with the green card and visa process. For more than 10 years she has helped clients achieve their immigration goals.

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.

The Diversity Visa

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments
Generally people can immigrate to the US through employment, family or asylum. But there is another category—the diversity visa. People from nations that are underrepresented in the US, can enter a visa lottery. The Government computer picks applicants, and they get to immigrate to the US.
Obviously whenever there is such a lottery, scamers abound. Scamers ask people to pay money to them, and they “guarantee” that those people will get in.  Applicants should apply ONLY through the government website: http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/
But when thousands of immigrants have to wait for so many years, is it fair to select a lucky few through a lottery, and hand them the golden ticket to immigration? To participate in the Diversity visa, one has to be just a high school graduate, and be born in a country whose citizens are under represented in the US.  How does a US Master’s Degree holder from India and China, who came here, studied, work hard, and has to wait forever to get their immigration, watch someone who is just a high school graduate come into this country. And is it fair to our, native born high school graduates, to see someone from Romania take that McJob?
And what exactly does “diversity” establish? Back in the days when there was no computers, we might actually learn a lot from someone from say Sierra Leone about their country. But now that information is just a google click away.
There is a bill in the house to do away with the ‘diversity” visa. Its time we get the brightest and the best from other countries, to advance the United States, rather than just some high school graduates who just happen to be born in these fortunate countries. The quota for diversity visas should be allocated to US Master degree’s holders who will benefit our economy.
For more information contact Houston Immigration Lawyer or Houston Immigration Attorney, Annie Banerjee

Immigrants Can Access New Initiative for Education and Citizenship Resources

By | News & Press | 56 Comments

A new U.S. initiative helps immigrants learn about free citizenship education resources. The Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Initiative is for lawful permanent residents and immigrant-based organizations. An estimated 7.9 million LPRs can apply for naturalization, reports the Department of Homeland Security.

Individuals looking to become a U.S. citizen must pass a civics and English test. The civics exam encompasses questions regarding the American government and history as well as geography, holidays and symbols. The English exam covers reading, writing and oral questions. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services initiative plans to connect individuals with local groups and educational resources to prepare them for successful citizenship.

In addition to the exams, individuals must meet the following requirements:
• Have good moral character
• Live in the U.S. continuously for five years as a lawful permanent resident before filing Form N-400 and be physically present for a minimum of 30 months out of the five years
• Live in the state or USCIS district that has jurisdiction over your residence for at least three months before filing Form N-400
• Have a green card for five years
• Be 18 years old

In Houston, Texas the Harris County Department of Education has free classes that instruct students on citizenship rights and responsibilities, the naturalization process, and training for the exams. They also offer English as a second language courses for varying levels of proficiency. Harris County has three main learning centers and many satellite locations via 15 public schools.

“It’s a feeling of empowerment,” said teacher Rosie Siller, who has taught English and civics through the HCDE for 17 years. “No one can take that education away from you.”

Many people do not know that part of the education teaches about an American citizen’s rights and responsibilities. Rights include the freedom to express oneself and worship, the right to vote, apply for federal employment, run for elected office, and the right to a fair jury trial. Responsibilities include defending the Constitution and country, participating in the democratic process and local community, obeying laws, respecting others, paying taxes, serving on a jury, and the freedom to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Once a person is naturalized, their children under age 18 who are not married can get citizenship. Via Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, the children can automatically become U.S. citizens.

Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee helps individuals and families get access to citizenship resources and successfully accomplish their naturalization goals. As an immigrant herself, she is a great ally for those looking to get citizenship and is dedicated to giving each client individualized attention and the utmost quality. The Law Offices of Annie Banerjee has more than 10 years of immigration law experience throughout Texas and the United States. She is active with the State Bar of Texas, American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, and the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Greater Houston.

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.

Immigration and Gay Marriage

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments

Recently 6 states have legalized gay marriage. The States are mainly in New England, New York, DC, and Iowa. Yet, just before Massachussets legalized gay marriage, the federal Government passed a Statute called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. DOMA does not prevent a State from legalizing gay marriage, but States can refuse to grant any rights to same sex partners.

Many Red ( read Republican) States like Texas prohibits same sex marriage by statute or Constitution. Yet under the full faith and credit law, States are supposed to recognize marriages held in other states.

When it comes to Immigration, same sex partners have so far been denied the right to adjust status via marriage. If one partner of a heterosexual couple is a United States Citizen, the other partner can obtain the Permanent Residency (Green Card) very easily. Yet that same right is denied to a same sex couple. Recently Jose Antonio Vargas, the pulitzer prize winning journalist from the Phillipines, who is undocumented, said he was asked to marry a girl to get the immigration, but he is gay and could not. Stories of long time gay couples, who cannot be united are heart wrenching. And whats more outrageous is that a Government entity from what is known as a “civilized” nation like ours is the one doing the discrimination.

Legally the federal law is supposed to recognize the law in a state, when it has to deal with state law issues like family law. Yet the DOMA prevents the federal government to grant rights to same sex couples. So the Citizenship and Immigration Service in these 6 states are shelving the cases hoping that the courts will rule on DOMA.

What is really maddening though is that when President Obama ran for President, he supported gay marriage. But now, trying to concede to the conservative opposition, he says he is rethinking his position on DOMA. We, the people of the United States voted for Obama, because we wanted America to regain the freedom we lost during the Bush era. Let us show the world that we will not fall behind when personal liberty is at issue.

For more information contact Houston Immigration Lawyer or Houston Immigration Attorney, Annie Banerjee

Dependent child of Fiance Visa

By | Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments

The Board of Immigration Appeals, in a recent case — Matter of Hieu Trung LE, 25 I&N Dec 541 (BIA-June 23, 2011)—- decided that if a derivative child of a F-1 fiance visa visa enters the country before the child is 21 (Note not 18), then even if he turns 21 before adjusting status, the child will still get the Permanent Residency.

The Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) had held that under INA 101(b)(1) (B), that if a child turns 18 at the time of a parent’s marriage, then the child cannot be a derivative beneficiary of the step parent and adjust for status. But the Board of Immigration Appeals, held in the case above that as long as the child is less than 21 at the time of the marriage, he can adjust even after he turns 21.

The child here was from Vietnam and was granted a K-2 visa and accompanied his mother, the K-1 visa holder when the child was 19. They entered the US. The mother married the US Petitioner after a week, and both she and the child filed for Adjustment of Status. The CIS granted the mother’s adjustment, but denied the child’s becasue he was older than 18.

The child was put in removal (deportation) proceedings. By the time the case got to a judge, the child had turned 21. The Immigration Judge held that the child was eligible to adjust status when he was 19, but cant anymore since he turned 21.

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) held that when the statue does not define what a minor child’s age is, it will be 21 under INA 101(b)(1) , which included unmarried children under the age of 21. The BIA also held that since in this case, the child entered when he was 19, and his mother did get married when he was 19; the child can adjust status to become a legal permanent resident.

For more information contact Houston Immigration Lawyer or Houston Immigration Attorney, Annie Banerjee

International Medical Graduates Play Important Role in US Medicine

By | News & Press | 174 Comments

International medical graduates (IMG) play a big part in the U.S. healthcare system in areas where employee shortages exist. A recent study even showed that without their expertise, 20 percent of rural areas would not have the medical care their communities need. The American College of Physicians is currently pushing for new measures to streamline the ability of these professionals to train in the United States and remain here if the job market needs them.

“The United States has depended on IMGs to fill gaps in care in underserved areas since the 1970s, and will probably continue to do so for some time,” said doctor Jeffery Harris, the president of the American College of Physicians (ACP). “IMGs are crucial to our continuing to be able to provide adequate care to the populations they serve.”

The ACP notes that with the increase of diverse patients, physician profiles must also diversify to provide “culturally competent care”. IMGs are not the only way to accomplish this, and the ACP also promotes increasing the diversity of American physicians to meet the needs of patients.

The ACP recently published a position paper on international medical graduates in American medicine and outlined its goals to increase programs to attract this type of physician. Their efforts push:

to streamline the process for J-1 and H-1B visas for IMGs
for a long-term expansion of J-1 visa waiver programs
to get an exemption from the annual H-1B visa cap in specialties facing a shortage
to place doctors of internal medicine and other specialties where shortages exist as Schedule A workers by the Department of Labor
to improve medical education and foster collaborations between the U.S. and less developed countries
for more opportunities for U.S. physicians with the Global Health Corps to serve in less-developed countries

“The entry of approximately 6,000 IMGs into the United States every year contributes a few billion dollars to the U.S. economy, which is equal to the output of 50 additional medical schools without any cost to the taxpayer,” said doctor Nyapati R. Rao, the chairman of the AMA-IMG section governing council.

IMGs hail from 127 countries and diverse backgrounds and currently total 25 percent of the U.S. physician workforce. In Texas, approximately 13,700 IMGs are practicing in the medical field and work in internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, anesthesiology, family medicine, general surgery, radiology, and obstetrics/gynecology. As foreign individuals and U.S. employers look to capitalize on the opportunity of the IMG experience, qualified legal counsel for immigration and visa matters is critical. H-1B and J-1 programs involve lots of paperwork, documentation, and follow up. Even minor errors can cause delays and denials, so seeking legal counsel early on is highly recommended.

Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee helps individuals and businesses throughout the state with all their immigration and foreign worker hiring concerns. The Law Offices of Annie Banerjee has more than a decade of experience in immigration law throughout Texas and the United States. As an immigrant herself, she knows the benefit of American traineeships and how an immigrant can greatly contribute to the modern U.S. workforce. She is an active member in her profession, with membership in the State Bar of Texas, American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, and the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Greater Houston.

For more information:

Law Offices of A. Banerjee

131 Brooks Street Suite #300

Sugar Land, Texas 77478

Phone: (281) 242-9139

Fax: (281) 242-2058

2027 Sheridan Street

Houston, Texas 77030

Phone: (713) 793-6339

[email protected]