Seguritan US Immigration Articles

Republican Bill to Give Temporary Visa to Families of LPRs

Filipinos and Latinos would benefit from a Republican-sponsored immigration bill that would give temporary visas to spouses and children of lawful permanent residents (LPR).

Known as the STEM Jobs Act, the proposed legislation would provide 55,000 additional green cards a year to foreign nationals receiving advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) The bill is seen as the Republican Party’s way of showing that they are serious about immigration reform.

Last September 20, the STEM bill was already taken up in the House of Representatives. It failed to pass even though it received the majority votes of the members because the procedure used required a two-thirds vote.

Democrats opposed the bill because it would eliminate the 55,000 green cards allotted each year under the Diversity Visa Lottery program. These green cards are given by lottery to qualified immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The proposed bill, in effect, does not increase the total number of visas issued each year.

This time, the Republicans made the bill more appealing by adding a provision which will allow the spouses and minor children of LPRs to enter the U.S. while they wait for their own green cards. They will enter the U.S. under a temporary visa. Although they will not be able to work until they obtain their green cards, this will allow them to be reunited with their families while they wait.

At present, spouses and minor children of LPRs will have to wait over two years before they can be issued their green cards. Those who are receiving their green cards today are those who were petitioned prior to August 22, 2010.

The backlog has approximately 322,000 spouses and children of LPRs waiting for their immigrant visas. The bill would allow LPRs to be reunited with their families in the U.S. one year after they file I-130 petitions on their behalf.

Whether the Senate will support the bills remains to be seen. The provision on temporary visas for immediate families of LPRs may draw some support; however, it is clear that Democrats remain opposed to the elimination of the diversity visa program and seek to increase the number of visas.

The Democrats have introduced a version of their own STEM bill which has not been taken up in the House. Like the Republican-version, the proposed bill provides for additional green cards for STEM graduates; however, it retains the Diversity Visa Lottery program. Their proposal also includes utilizing unused visa numbers for STEM graduates to make up for backlogs in the employment-based categories.

Although the STEM bill is not a major fix to a broken immigration system, it will expand visas for STEM graduates and allow families to reunite. More importantly, passing this GOP immigration bill is a tell-tale sign that immigration reform is already in the works.

10,000 DACA Applications Rejected

More than 53,000 young immigrants have been spared from possible deportation since President Obama’s deferred action program for childhood arrivals (DACA) began about three months ago. Between August 15 and November 15, 2012, over 308,000 requests for deferred have been received by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which translates to about 4,800 requests filed per day.

More than 120,000 requests are under review and many more are in the pipeline as 273,000 cases are scheduled for biometrics. Over 10,000 applications have been rejected.

Mexico is the country of origin of a great majority of the applicants (212,514 applications), followed by El Salvador (13,769), Honduras (8,577), Guatemala (7,630) and Peru (5,052). South Korea (4,880), Brazil (4,345), Colombia (3,856), Ecuador (3,737) and the Philippines (2,613) round up the top ten countries of origin of the childhood arrivals that filed for deferred action.

The top three states of residence of the applicants are California (81,858), Texas (47,727) and New York (19,320). The other states on the list are: Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Arizona, New Jersey, Georgia and Virginia.

With President Obama’s reelection many are confident that the program will continue. A surge in the applications is very likely with more DREAMers coming out and applying for deferred action.

It is important to make sure that a DACA request is filed correctly in order to avoid delay or rejection.

In the Filing Tips recently released by the USCIS, the agency reminds everyone that small mistakes could lead to rejection of the application.

Applicants must send all forms in the same package. Form I-821D, I-765 and I-765WS must be mailed together to the correct address found in the instructions. The package must be mailed since electronic filing is not available.

The package must be accompanied by the filing fee of $465, which can be in a single check or in two separate checks of $380 and $85.

Applicants must make sure that they use the most recent versions of the forms. The USCIS reminds that all forms are available on its website for free. Also, Form I-821D should not be confused with Form I-821 which is an entirely different form.

Applicants must review age guidelines before filing. Applicants must generally be at least 15 years old at the time of filing, and cannot be 31 years or older as of June 15, 2012.

The applicant must remember to put the same name on all the forms because changes in the way the information is written can result in delays. The I-821D and I-765 forms must be signed by the applicant. If the applicant was assisted by another person, that person must also sign both forms.

All questions must be answered completely and accurately. If an item is not applicable or if the answer is “none”, the space may be left blank. However, fields asking for dates must be answered, especially those on the I-821D asking for dates and places of entry. If one cannot remember the exact place or date, the closest approximation must be provided.

Supporting documents and evidence help the USCIS make a decision on the rquest so they must in all cases be submitted with the forms. It will be helpful to the reviewing officer if the evidence is organized and labeled according to the guideline that it meets.

To establish economic need for the employment authorization, the applicant must indicate his or her personal current annual income, annual expenses and value of assets. There is no need to submit supporting documentation to prove economic necessity. Financial information of other household members is not included.

The USCIS prefers that applicants complete the form on the computer and then printed, instead of being filled out by hand. Black ink must be used if the form is filled out by hand and correction tape or “white-out” fluid must be avoided because scanners can see through it and cause the form to be processed as incorrect.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Likely to Pass Next Year

President Obama’s historic reelection accomplished what years of advocacy, opposition and political gridlock couldn’t. The GOP’s crushing defeat at the elections has left the Republican Party with little choice but to face the reality that this nation’s broken immigration system must be fixed and it must be fixed now.

Minority voters turned out in record numbers and helped propel Pres. Obama to victory. Almost three-fourths of the Asian American vote went to Obama, as did 93% of the African American vote. More than 70% of Hispanics picked Obama over Gov. Mitt Romney, whose 27% share of the Latino vote was even less than that received by Sen. John McCain in 2008.

Exit polls showed that 77% of Hispanic voters believe that undocumented immigrants should be given a chance to apply for legal status. Among all voters polled, 65% agreed that undocumented immigrants should have legal status and only 28% favored deportation.

These numbers have caused an about-face in immigration among the Republican Party’s members and some of its supporters.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, for one, said in an interview that immigration reform is an issue that has been around far too long and that a “comprehensive approach is long overdue”. He expressed optimism that he, the president and others “can find a common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

A former governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, views the need for immigration reform as an issue of good policy. In a television interview, he said that he believes that in today’s global market for labor and capital, the U.S. needs not only Ph.D.s in science and technology but also skilled and unskilled workers.

Even conservative talk show host Sean Hannity has weighed in on immigration reform. Saying that he has “evolved” on the issue, he now supports giving a pathway to citizenship to law-abiding immigrants who have been in the U.S. for a long time.

This position is in line with that of his boss, Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, who had expressed bewilderment over Gov. Romney’s refusal to reach out to Latino voters, whom Murdoch said were “naturally Republicans”. After the elections, Murdoch sent out a tweet calling for “sweeping, generous immigration reform”.

Many believe that Gov. Romney’s chances were hurt by the divisive and anti-immigrant rhetoric he adopted early on in his campaign. It will be remembered that during the primaries, he suggested that illegal immigrants should “self-deport” to their home countries. He also promised his supporters that he would veto the DREAM Act.

Later on he tried to soften his tone on immigration. He said that he supports the military service portion of the proposed DREAM Act. He also promised not to deport individuals who received approvals under Pres. Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but said that he would replace it with a long-term solution. The DREAM Act and DACA were initiatives that enjoyed popular support among minorities.

Minorities now make up 36% of this country’s population. Given the major role that this demographic played in the last elections, politicians should rightly assess their positions on matters that are important to this growing electorate.

Last September, President Obama said that his greatest failure was not passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation in his first term. He vowed to push for immigration reform in 2013 if he is reelected.

Once again, immigration reform is at the forefront of U.S. politics. The message sent from the polls was loud and clear and politicians can only ignore it at their own peril.

Non-Immigrants Who Join Army May Become Citizens

A military program that allows the recruitment of immigrants with skills that are considered critical to the national interest was reopened recently. It allows legal immigrants who are in the United States, even those on temporary visas, to enlist in the military and serve the country.

The lure of the program, despite the obvious risks of being in the Army, is the expedited route to naturalization that it offers. Service members under this program can become U.S. citizens in as short as 10 weeks. Ordinarily, immigrants on temporary visas wait many years to become permanent residents and usually an extra five years to become naturalized citizens.

Under the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program, up to 1,500 individuals with certain skills will be recruited per year up to 2014. Health care professionals and experts in certain languages with associated cultural backgrounds are eligible. The program was implemented in 2009 but suspended in 2010.

The military is currently looking to fill medical specialties in which it has a shortfall, which right now includes dentists, surgeons and psychology professionals. Health care professionals must meet all qualification criteria for the medical specialty, demonstrate proficiency in English, and commit to at least 3 years of active duty or 6 years in the Selected Reserve.

The military also seeks native speakers of any of 44 languages with cultural backgrounds. Tagalog and Cebuano are included. Applicants under this category must demonstrate language proficiency, meet all existing enlistment eligibility criteria and enlist for at least 4 years of active duty.

To be eligible for recruitment, the individual must be in valid asylee, refugee, Temporary Protected Status, or nonimmigrant category (including but not limited to F, H, J, K, R, U and V) for at least two years immediately preceding the enlistment date. Applicants who are on a nonimmigrant category must not have had any single absence of more than 90 days during this two-year period.

A pending application for adjustment of status does not render an applicant ineligible. Those who have lost H nonimmigrant status while an adjustment application was pending may still be allowed to enlist on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants must be high school graduates and they must pass an entrance test. Although they have been subject to background and occupational checks for their temporary visas, the reopened MAVNI program will require a new layer of security screenings.

The previous batch of recruits under this program proved to be exceptionally talented. A third of the first class of recruits had at least a master’s degree. Many of the recruits went into the highly select Special Forces unit.

The program became so popular that the military had to turn down thousands of applicants, prompting many of them to sign a petition on Facebook for the reopening of the program.

The U.S. military has a history of recruiting non-citizens for service during a time of national need. In the 1940s, Filipinos were recruited into the Navy after the signing of the Military Bases Agreement, which allowed the U.S. to have military bases in the Philippines. Over 35,000 Filipinos joined the Navy between 1952 and 1991.

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