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While traveling in Southeast Asia in March, my wife showed me the following story on her phone: “The Hunk Who Loved Lady Liberty: Fabio Becomes a U.S. Citizen”.
This is a Success Story for America.
“This is one of the happiest days of my life” said Fabio. “Over the course of my career I’ve had the opportunity to travel the globe and America is still the greatest country on earth. There is no such thing as an Italian dream or an English dream but the American dream is alive and well.”
I remember the day when I went to Immigration Service with Fabio for his green card interview. The INS staff was so excited that I had to return the next day to give out dozens of signed photographs signed by Fabio to all of his fans.
Numerous ethnic newsletters and even the Wall Street Journal published the news of Fabio getting his green card on the front page.
Now, he is a US citizen. Congratulations, Fabio!
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016. He may have been the most influential Justice on the Court during the past 30 years. His use of the doctrine of "originalism" lead to a multitude of decisions which were, for the most part, favorable to conservatives.
Justice Scalia's death creates a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is now divided between 4 liberal justices (Ginsberg, Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor) and 4 conservative justices (Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy). President Obama has the opportunity to appoint a justice to the Court which could give liberals a 5-4 majority for the first time in over a generation.
This prospect has, of course, resulted a deep division between the Republicans and the Democrats in the Senate.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” stated Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Republican majority leader. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
“It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat,” said Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Democratic minority leader. “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential constitutional responsibilities.”
In reality, few observers expect President Obama to leave a seat on the Supreme Court vacant. It expected that he will soon nominate a someone to fill Justice Scalia's seat on the Court.
However, since the GOP-controlled Senate must vote on President Obama's nominee, one can expect the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to be contentious and for the appointment to be a major issue during the Presidential election.
There are many superbly qualified candidates for Justice Scalia's seat on the court for President Obama to consider. Here are two:
Jacqueline Nguyen is a former prosecutor who was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2009 to serve as a District Court Judge. Later, she was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. She is the daughter of a South Vietnamese Army Major who worked closely with U.S. intelligence officials. At the age of 10, she and her family were transported out of Vietnam by a US military helicopter. She lived in a refugee camp in Camp Pendleton in Southern California for several months. She worked her way through college and law school at her family's donut shop. She is the first Asian-American female ever to serve as a federal appellate judge.
Sri Srinivasan is a judge on U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a unanimous vote in 2013. He immigrated to the U.S. from India. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and clerked for former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. He worked in private practice and served as the Deputy Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice. He has argued over 20 cases before the Supreme Court. He is considered a judicial moderate. If nominated and confirmed, he would be first Asian-American Supreme Court Justice.
Who is more of an American idol than Elvis Presley?
The Beatles? No, those lads were from Liverpool.
What made a teenager from Tupelo, Mississippi, into an icon of music, television and film?
Yes, Elvis was extremely talented. His rock and rock style was fabulous, but he did not write his own songs, wasn't much of a guitarist and his acting left a lot to be desired.
One thing that Elvis had that many of his contemporaries lacked was his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Colonel Tom, as he was called, was the reason both he and Elvis made millions of dollars (a 50-50 split, yes really!) and the reason that Elvis never toured abroad.
Elvis said of Colonel Tom, "I don't think I'd have ever been very big if it wasn't for him. He's a very smart man."
Colonel Tom was frequently seen wearing his trademark cowboy hat and puffing on his cigar. According to legend, he was born in Huntington, West Virginia and ran away from home to join the circus. He served in the US Army in the 1920s and married Marie Mott, a US citizen, in 1935.
But though the true facts did not come out until years after Elvis's death, in 1977, "Colonel Tom" was an invented persona. In responding to a lawsuit in 1982, Colonel Tom revealed that he was a Dutch citizen. His real name was Andreas Cornelis van Kujik and he was born in the Netherlands.
And why did Mr. van Kujik turn down multi-million dollar offers received for Elvis to perform abroad?
You guessed it! Colonel Tom was living illegally in the US from the 1920s until his death in 1997. And control freak that he was, he knew that if he ever accompanied Elvis abroad, there was no way for the Colonel to reenter the US.
Colonel Tom may have been able to legalize his immigration status through his US citizen wife or through other means, but he choose not to do so. We may never know why, although his Wikipedia bio provides some possible reasons.
Perhaps, his life can best be summed up by Priscilla Presley's eulogy at his funeral:
"Elvis and the Colonel made history together, and the world is richer, better and far more interesting because of their collaboration. And now I need to locate my wallet, because I noticed there was no ticket booth on the way in here, but I'm sure that the Colonel must have arranged for some toll on the way out."
On December 16, it was announced that members of Congress had finalized a 2,009-page budget bill. The bill is expected to be approved and signed by President Obama before the end of the year.
The bill contains a number of immigration law changes, each of which is listed below:
H-1B and L-1 Filing Fees - Additional filing fees will be imposed on companies which employ 50 or more workers in the US, and whose workforce consists more than 50% of H-1B and L-1 employees. The additional fees amount to $4,000 per H-1B petition and $4,500 for each L-1 petition. These fees will also apply to extensions as well as to first-time petitions. These fees will remain in effect until September 30, 2025.
EB-5, Conrad 30, E-Verify and Non-Ministerial Religious Workers – Each of these programs will be extended to September 30, 2016 without any material changes. Changes to the EB-5 program are essential. It is anticipated that Congress will amend the EB-5 investor program sometime in 2016. H-2B Workers – Returning workers who were counted against the 66,000 cap in fiscal years 2013-15 will not be subject to the fiscal year 2016 cap. Employers will be required to pay workers at the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) – The rules will be tightened on this program which allows tens of millions of people from 38 countries to enter the US as visitors without visas each year. For example, persons who visited Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan (or any country designated by DHS) since March 2011 will be barred from visiting the US without a visa. These immigration law changes are meant to promote security and increase "vetting" of foreign visitors to the United States.
On December 2, 2015, the USCIS introduced the feature “Ask Emma”, a virtual assistant, on www.uscis.gov. Emma is named after Emma Lazarus, the woman who wrote the sonnet “The New Colossus” which appears on a bronze plaque at the base of the Statute of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor…”)
The USCIS press release states as follows: “Although Emma can currently answer many questions our customers commonly ask, her knowledge base is still growing. As customers ask more questions, Emma gets smarter and can better assist future customers.
You can access Emma on a desktop or laptop. Soon, she’ll be expanding to mobile devices, and her Spanish language capabilities will be arriving early next year.”
However, unlike her older Sister Siri who was born in 2011 and who speaks over a dozen languages, Emma prefers to answer your questions in writing and in English, rather than by speaking to you.
You can ask Emma questions by clicking the “Ask a Question” link in the upper right corner of www.uscis.gov, right next to the “Search Our Site” link and typing in your question(s).
Carl and Emma’s First Conversation
I first talked with Emma on December 3. Below is a transcript of our brief conversation. While Emma directed me to the same pages that USCIS’s internal Bing search engine did, I found her answers to my question a bit more precise. Please share your experiences with Emma with me.
Emma: Hi, I’m Emma. I’m here to help you with your questions about this site. What would you like to ask me?
Carl: Can my child immigrate with me under CSPA?
Emma: The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) amended the Immigration Nationality Act (INA) by changing who qualifies as a child for purposes of immigrant. This permits certain beneficiaries to retain classification as a “child,” even if he or she has reached the age of 21.
Before CSPA took effect on August 6, 2002, a beneficiary who turned 21 at any time prior to receiving permanent residence could not be considered a child for immigration purposes. This situation is described as “aging out.” Congress recognized that many beneficiaries were aging out because of large backlogs and long processing times for visa petitions. CSPA is designed to protect a beneficiary’s immigration classification as a child when he or she ages out due to excessive processing times.
Please see the page I have opened for you for additional information on how to qualify under the act and for a list of the eligibility criteria or select the link below to review visa availability.View Page
Visa Availability and Priority Dates
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Carl: He was 15 when my sister filed a visa petition for me. Now, my priority date is current, but he is 22 years old.
Emma: The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets the number of immigrant visas that may be issued to individuals seeking permanent resident status (a green card) each year. Immigrant visas available to “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens are unlimited, so are always available. Immediate relatives include, parents of a U.S. citizen, spouses of a U.S. citizen and, unmarried children under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen.
Immigrant visa numbers for individuals in a “preference category” are limited, so are not always available. Because the demand is higher than the supply of visas for a given year for some categories, a visa queue (waiting list) forms. To distribute the visas among all preference categories, the Department of State gives out the visas by providing visa numbers according to the preference category and one’s priority date.
See the page I've opened for you for more information.View Page
Family Preference Categories Eligibility
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Updated 12-04-2015 at 02:24 PM by CShusterman