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  1. Revenue-Raising Immigration: The $$$ Visa

    by , 07-26-2011 at 07:01 AM (Angelo Paparelli on Dysfunctional Government)
    As the debt-ceiling crisis causes America to plunge headlong into the lemming-led abyss of a credit default, Congress and the country are reminded of a timeless truth. "Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons."
    In these parlous times, our nation is regularly compared to the nearly deadbeat country of Greece, which tried recently but unsuccessfully to sell off some of its sovereign assets. Fortunately for the U.S., however, the sale of our national patrimony is not imminent.  Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful and Lady Liberty are safe, at least for now. Still, America clearly needs more revenue.  With pledge-bound Republicans and Tea Partiers having taken tax increases off the table (except when labeled as immigration user fees), the prospect of near-term levies on the domestic population are virtually nil. 
    Not surprisingly, the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, will hold a hearing July 26, 2011 on "The Economic Imperative for Enacting Immigration Reform" -- something I've argued in a a slew of blog posts over many years.
    Maybe, just possibly, perhaps, cross the fingers, our financial desparation will at last cause a tripartisan immigration consensus to emerge.  Even though comprehensive immigration reform (including a path to lawful status for the undocumented) seems a non-starter at present, one revenue-generating reform to the legal immigration system may be the graspable piece of fruit hanging low to the ground.
    As a patriotic American, a 35+ year immigration lawyer and former tax attorney, who has learned a few things about exceptionally affluent foreigners, I offer a royalty-free, open-source concept for the Committee to consider. 
    Enter our deus ex machina: A worthy and viable revenue-raising immigration reform -- The $$$ Visa. My proposal for the $$$ Visa is based on fundamental truths about super-rich foreign nationals:

    They enjoy and will pay for special privileges;
    They don't like unpleasant surprises;
    They consider themselves VIPs who deserve red-carpet treatment;
    They usually don't want to immigrate because green card status entails U.S. taxation of their worldwide assets and an exit tax for long term residents who later leave America for good;
    They create a passel of jobs by hiring minions of lawyers, accountants, financial advisers, chauffuers, interior decorators, designers, stylists, household workers and security personnel who perform for them an array of quotidian tasks (look up family offices here);
    They seek safety, security and predictability;
    They are fearful of political risks and want to hedge their bets with safe lodging in America as a backup plan;
    They have gobs of disposable income; and
    They are lured to America by its many enticements.

    I therefore propose that the $$$ Visa be established as a revenue-raising, jobs-creating vehicle that would permit the ultra-wealthy to help us by helping themselves.  Here are the attributes of the $$$ Visa:

    For a nonrefundable filing fee of $1 million made payable to the U.S. Treasury, U.S. consular officers abroad and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers in the U.S. would grant a qualifying foreign citizen, together with his or her spouse and minor children, a $$$ Visa or corresponding $$$ nonimmigrant status, with the visa valid for up to five years on a multiple-entry basis, and each change or extension of status, and each admission period to the U.S. under the visa, granted in two-year increments.
    Neither U.S. consular officers nor USCIS adjudicators would be authorized to delay $$$ Visa issuance by the need to investigate whether the money so paid came from lawful funds. Instead, the Treasury Department under its current "government-wide multisource financial intelligence and analysis network," known as FinCEN, would establish by regulation the procedure to issue a "certificate of financial eligibility (CFE)."  As an inducement to lift the veil on bank secrecy and encourage federal tax compliance, the federal government would make expedited and streamlined CFE issuance available to citizens of countries that have enacted IRS-approved "Know Your Customer" laws (although nationals of other countries could still qualify for the CFE through more routine and likely slower procedures).
    A small portion of the revenues generated from the $$$ Visa would be used to establish a red-carpeted VIP lane at U.S. ports of entry.  It's the least we can do to thank them for their contributions to deficit reduction.
    All of the usual immigration screening procedures would apply to applicants for the $$$ Visa.  No drug cartel chief, terrorist with money, pedophile or other personae non grata could enter on this visa.
    IRS tax residency rules will stay the same and apply to $$$ Visa holders who remain in the U.S. for periods that satisfy the "physical-presence" test.  Thus, $$$ Visa holders who remain in the U.S. for comparatively short periods would still be classified as nonresidents for income tax purposes while those who stay here longer would be taxed as residents and thereby subject their worldwide income to U.S. taxation.
    Renewals of $$$ Visas for the same validity period as the original grant would be allowed in the U.S. or abroad at an American consular post for another nonrefundable payment to the U.S. Treasury of $1 million.
    The $$$ Visa would provide no path to U.S. citizenship, although such visa holders would still be eligible to attain green card status and to naturalize through other existing legal avenues. Thus, no one could claim that we are selling citizenship.       

    Critics would likely charge that we are showing preference to the wealthy and privileged.  Not so.  The U.S. already grants immigration benefits to many individuals of typically modest means, such as battered spouses, victims of human trafficking, asylees, refugees, students on scholarships, lottery winners and a host of temporary workers paid down-to-earth salaries. The $$$ Visa would merely level the polo field. 
    After all, America, we can easily entice the ultra-wealthy to come to our country by citing our very own famous quotesmith, Mike Hammer, who said: "There are no pockets in a shroud."  Or, Congress, as the author of the quote at the start of this post reminds us: "Take the money and run!"

    by , 07-26-2011 at 06:46 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)

    by Chris Musillo
    The US Embassy at Manila just has announced the establishment of a Non-Immigrant Visa Re-issuance program. The purpose of the program is to allow some applicants an expedited visa issuance process if they have previously held the visa that they are seeking to extend.
    If one qualifies for the program, an applicant needs only to schedule an appointment, appear at the Embassy at the appointed time, and then have the application screened and give 10-print finger scans. The applicant will not have to participate in an interview.
    At this time it does not appear that the VRP will be available to H-1B holders because of a condition that one did not stay in the US for more than 6 months. Here is the full list of conditions: 
    1. I am a Philippines passport holder.
    2. I have previously been issued, in Manila, a full-validity visa (a visa good for five or ten years).
    3. My visa is still valid... or it has expired within the last twelve months.
    4. I have in my possession all of my passports covering the entire period of time since I received that full-validity visa.
    5. I have not been refused a U.S. visa in the last twelve months.
    6. My visa is not annotated "clearance received".
    7. I have not ever stayed in the U.S. longer than 6 months (even if the Department of Homeland Security approved the extension of stay).
    8. I have not ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, even if subject of a pardon.
    9. I can provide the visa control number from my visa (located in the upper right hand corner of the visa).

    Read the full Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at or
  3. Security Concerns Should Not Derail the Iraqi Refugee Program ‚Äď Here‚Äôs Why

    In the wake of revelations that two Iraqi refugees turned out to be former insurgents, the U.S. government is re-checking more than 58,000 Iraqi refugees against newly available data bases.* The Los Angeles Times reports:
    The investigation was given added urgency after U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Al Qaeda leaders in Iraq and Yemen had tried to target the U.S. refugee stream, or exploit other immigration loopholes, in an attempt to infiltrate the country with operatives.

    Would you believe we have to re-check all 58,000 Iraqi refugees?

    The Times article continues:
    So far, immigration authorities have given the FBI about 300 names of Iraqi refugees for further investigation.* The FBI won't say whether any have been arrested or pose a potential threat.* The individuals may have only tenuous links to known or suspected terrorists.* The names were identified when authorities rechecked phone numbers, email addresses, fingerprints, iris scans and other data in immigration files of Iraqis given asylum since the war began in 2003.* They checked the data against military, law enforcement and intelligence databases that were not available or were not utilized during the initial screening process, or were not searched using sufficient Arabic spelling and name variations.
    It addition to the Iraqis, authorities have re-screened a smaller number of refugees from Yemen, Somalia and other countries where terrorist groups are active.
    Of course, this begs the question: Why are we admitting refugees from these countries in the first place?* Some commentators, including Mark Krikorian from the Center for Immigration Studies, argue that we should reduce or completely stop resettling refugees from Iraq.* It's a fair point, but let me give my reasons why I believe we should continue to bring such refugees to our country.
    First, I think there is an important foreign policy benefit that accrues to us by demonstrating our loyalty to people who risked their lives to help our cause.* It certainly would not serve our interest to be known as a country that uses people and then abandons them.* A few months ago, Esquire magazine did an article about one of my clients who captured or killed dozens of terrorists in Iraq.* Now, despite our best efforts (and an approved immigration petition), he and his family are stuck in Iraq, where they face a very real possibility of being killed.* Such stories do not inspire others to stick their necks out for us.
    Second, I think we have a moral obligation to assist people who face danger on account of our actions.* The right thing to do is to take responsibility for our actions, and to correct problems we helped to create.* As the leader of the free world, we need to set an example and do the right thing.
    Third, millions of foreigners come to the U.S. every year (for example, in 2009, according to DHS, over 160 million foreigners came to the U.S. for one reason or another).* If a terrorist or a criminal wants to come to the United States, entering as a refugee is probably one of the least effective ways to get here.* The security screenings and other hurdles to entry are more difficult for a refugee than for almost any other category of entrant.* If we close the door to refugees because we fear they might harm us, we should close the door to all other non-citizens (and the billions of dollars they contribute to our economy).** Such an isolationist path seems impractical and undesirable.
    Finally, to give up on our humanitarian ideals because we fear terrorism seems to me a response unworthy of our nation.* Sometimes, compromise is necessary.* And sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor.* However, to give up on our refugee program because we fear terrorism would be a victory for the terrorists. *
    We certainly need to be vigilant, and we need to do a better job of screening refugees.* We also need to re-check anyone who might be a security risk.* But we should not end our assistance to refugees because we fear terrorism.* We should not let the terrorists win.
    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
  4. Report: Republicans Considering Their Own High Skilled Workers Bill

    by , 07-25-2011 at 06:12 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    Computerworld is reporting that House Republicans are circulating a draft of a bill that eliminates per country caps on green cards. The move would provide relief to Indians and Chinese workers who are limited to no more than 7% of the annual employment-based green card quotas.The bill is seen as a Republican counterpart to the Democratic skilled worker bill introduced by Zoe Lofgren. Lofgren's plan would go further, however, and eliminate green card caps all together for certain highly skilled workers.
  5. Alabama to enforce tough immigration bill

    by , 07-25-2011 at 12:45 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)

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