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significant white I-94 card stapled to the visa of passports for nonimmigrant
foreign nationals in land and seaports around the United States is a familiar
image to many travelers. This form is
used to prove admission to the United States and determines the length of time
one many stay. The United States Customs and Border Protection recently
announced its implementation of a new automated I-94 entry process, effective April
30, 2013 where the I-94 becomes
paperless. What does this change mean
for travelers and governmental processes?
Department of Homeland Security cites that this new measure will, "streamline
the entry process for travelers, facilitate security and reduce federal costs,
saving the agency an estimated $15.5 million a year". This will decrease the usual paperwork
substantially both for travelers and immigration officers. While some people are under the impression
that this signifies a complete change and may worry about the unavailability of
these forms for reference, that is not the case. Travelers requesting the document as evidence
of admission for an immigration matter, proof of status, applying for a
driver's license in some states, work authorization, personal record or any
other reason will be able to have the hard copy. The printed copy will be available on www.cbp.gov/I94 to retrieve
their electronically submitted data. Moreover,
officers will continue to issue the usual admission stamp on passports,
accompanied by a note detailing the nonimmigrant's status and time
authorization of the visit.
In recent years
with the green revolution and our efforts at becoming more environmentally
friendly, traveler information is gradually being accumulated through
electronic databases so the paperless I-94 is not a new idea. Post 9/11 initiatives have already aimed at
accumulating more data on the population; so much of the traveler's identities
have been in the government's data system for quite some time.
As with every
new measure the paperless I-94 initiative will necessitate some time to be
fully adjusted and applied throughout the United States. Travelers will have to:
Find access to
passport information in order to access the electronic I-94.
employers will have to learn to accept the hard copy printouts of the
electronic I-94 data.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will still require the hard
copy I-94 from applicants even if the visitor does not receive the copy upon
entry. Other government agencies such as
the Social Security Administration will also require a paper copy to ascertain
whether a foreign national may receive certain benefits.
though initially some slight complications may emerge on all fronts: travelers, companies, and government agencies
will have to adjust to the new change as a better alternative. So many facets of our everyday lives are
becoming automated and a development such as a paperless I-94 is
inevitable. The economic and practical
benefits substantially outweigh the initial costs of adjusting to the change.
To view the
implementation schedule at various ports, please see the following link:
Give Peace a Chance: End the U.S.-India Immigration and Trade War Now
The drums of war are pounding. Prominent American companies, through a variety of business associations, are urging the Obama Administration and Congress to punish the Government of India for mounting hostile actions in a brewing trade war.
For its part, the Indian government cannot be pleased with the dramatically increased filing fees and restrictions to be imposed on its technology and consulting companies (which garners about $100 billion annually for its domestic economy) if S. 744, the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform (CRI) proposal, or some comparable variant, is enacted into law.
No wonder that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in New Delhi for government-to-government discussions seeking to head off a trade and immigration war that spells trouble for countless innocent parties. Prime among the collateral-damage sufferers are American consumers who benefit from lower prices (especially in light of the falling rupee) and greater technological efficiencies spawned by the global trade-in-services and trade-in-goods business models.
Why is this war on the verge of a surge? India is the world's largest democracy, an English-speaking nation not known for cyber-stealing American government and business secrets, unlike China. To be sure, Indian courts and government agencies must stop its protectionist ways, as the U.S. business associations' letter insists:
Over the last year, the courts and policymakers in India have engaged in a persistent pattern of discrimination designed to benefit India's business community at the expense of American jobs. The [Government of India] recently demanded that as much as 100 percent of its market for certain information technology and clean energy equipment must be satisfied by firms based domestically. Administrative and court rulings have repeatedly ignored internationally recognized rights Ė imposing arbitrary marketing restrictions on medical devices and denying, breaking, or revoking patents for nearly a dozen lifesaving medications.
These actions and others constitute a disturbing trend that may continue and even expand to other products, sectors, and countries. Already there are indications that other countries are considering similar measures. Such actions are completely at odds with recognized global norms and raise troubling questions about India's compliance with its international obligations to protect ideas, brands, and inventions and to treat imported goods no less favorably than domestic products.
These actions are unacceptable for a responsible middle-income country and rising global power to treat its second-largest export trading partner. They are counterproductive to Indiaís stated goals to attract capital and to develop its own innovative economy. Forcing local production and seeking to profit and create jobs through the rejection of basic property rights undermines India's ability to achieve the type of long-term foreign investment that is so essential for sustainable economic growth and job creation.
American government officials aren't pacifist observers either, but rather aggressive combatants. They've dropped bombs on India by financing U.S. border fortification with markedly higher filing fees that have fallen disproportionately on Indian companies. They've lobbed grenades by applying discriminatory and extra-legal interpretations to refuse Indian work-visa applicants, as shown here, here and here. Immigration and trade protectionism hurts American and foreign citizens far more than it helps. And now S. 744 would attempt to legislate out of existence India's global business models notwithstanding that it takes two to tango, contractually, that is, an Indian sourcing firm and its American corporate customer.
My solution: The U.S. should enact legislation granting Indian citizens eligibility for E-2 treaty investor visa classification on a reciprocal basis, just as it did a year ago with Israel. And just like the Israeli E-2 (which remains stalled), treaty investor reciprocity should only occur when American citizens doing business in India or Israel are given equivalent work-visa privileges in each respective country. The Indian E-2 could well be the olive branch that the warring Indian and American sides need to declare a truce and sue for peace.
War is hell. Give peace a chance.
Updated 07-16-2013 at 02:18 PM by APaparelli
It was a good day for immigration reform. 15 Republicans joined a solid block of every Democrat to pass a cloture vote 67-27 for the Hoeven-Corker substitute immigration bill - a key test vote on immigration reform. Today's vote s a pretty good indicateor of what will happen on Thursday on the final vote in the Senate on the immigration bill. Six Senators couldn't make the vote because of flight delays. Two were definite Democrat votes meaning that 70 votes is a real possibility.
I mentioned earlier that I was able to watch the proceedings from the Senate gallery. Though I've made dozens of trips to DC over the years to work on immigration issues, this was actually my first time in the gallery for one of the two chambers in the Capitol. The atmosphere was somewhat party-like as the Senators gathered for a vote that turned out to be more lopsided than many would have initially imagined.
It's a pretty sure bet that the final vote on a Senate bill will come on Thursday. But there could still be more amendment votes. Senator Corker told reporters this afternoon that a deal for 10 amendments to be offerered by each side might be considered. No word yet on which amendments might make the cut.
Things are moving on the House side as well. The House Judiciary Committee is set to mark up the E-Verify and high-skilled worker bills. Those bills and the other enforcement bills that have already passed.
This week we could also see the much-awaited House bipartisan bill (written by the Gang of 7) finally be introduced. It's writers clam to be finished with negotiating the framework.Whether that bill will be considered is still not known.
Speaker Boehner says he would like a bill passed on the floor by the end of July. That would then lead to the House and Senate setting up a conference committee to try and hammer out a compromise.
So there are many steps remaining before the bill would make its way to the President's desk for his signature.
I was able to get a ticket and watch the Senate vote live from the Senate's gallery. Exciting to say the least. Just left and will comment later this evening. But time to celebrate the historic 2 to 1 vote in favor of reform. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
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