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:
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

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

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

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