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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


Rating: 2 votes, 3.00 average.


In light of the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds Japanese nationals of certain U.S. immigration benefits available upon request.

USCIS understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual's ability to establish or maintain lawful immigration status. Temporary relief measures available to eligible nationals of Japan may include:

  • The grant of an application for change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;

  • Re-parole of individuals granted parole by USCIS;

  • Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;

  • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;

  • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);

  • Expedited employment authorization where appropriate; and

  • Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration documents such as Green Cards. USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.

Visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program may visit a USCIS local office for assistance. Japanese nationals who are at a U.S. airport may contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office there.


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  1. greg's Avatar
    What do you thing about Utah bills:
  2. Jack's Avatar
    Event at Georgetown this weekend:

    Are Immigrant Engineers and Programmers Really Outstanding?

    Are foreign tech professionals 'the best and brightest?' Professor Matloff's multifaceted research does not find that immigrants generally are more outstanding talents than the native born. Even so, some companies manage to hire foreign workers of the highest calibre and there are notable differences among migrant nationalities.

    I don't see a detailed summary of the program, but the the speaker has a H-1B Web Page:

    The H-1B work visa is fundamentally about cheap labor.

    Though the tech industry lobbyists portray H-1B as a remedy for labor shortages and as a means of hiring "the best and the brightest" from around the world (which I strongly support), the vast majority are ordinary people doing ordinary work. Instead of being about talent, H-1B is about cheap labor.

    The underpayment of H-1Bs is well-established fact, not rumor, anecdote or ideology. It has been confirmed by two congressionally-commissioned reports, and a number of academic studies, in both statistical and qualitative analyses.

    Even former software industry entrepreneur CEO Vivek Wadhwa, now a defender of foreign worker programs, has confessed,

    I know from my experience as a tech CEO that H-1Bs are cheaper than domestic hires. Technically, these workers are supposed to be paid a "prevailing wage," but this mechanism is riddled with loopholes.
    Wadhwa has also stated

    I was one of the first [CEOs] to use H-1B visas to bring workers to the U.S.A. Why did I do that? Because it was cheaper.
    Note Wadhwa's point about the loopholes. It is perfectly LEGAL to underpay H-1Bs, due to gaping loopholes. Most of the abuse is NOT fraud, but instead is skillful use of loopholes, just like using loopholes in the tax code. Stiffening enforcement would NOT address the cheap labor problem.

    Note too that the abuse of H-1B extends across the industry including the large mainstream firms., facilitated by the nation's top immigration law firms. It does NOT occur primarily in the Indian " body shops," and it DOES occur in the hiring of international students from U.S. university campuses.

    Five-minute summary.

    Click here to search this site.

    Click here to view my major writings on these topics. These range from short newspaper op-eds to lengthy articles in academic journals.

    Click here for my biography.

    Five-minute summary:
    Two congressional reports and a number of academic studies have shown that H-1Bs are often paid less than Americans. As mentioned above, even H-1B advocate and former tech CEO Vivek Wadhwa has admitted underpaying H-1Bs himself.

    Underpayment of H-1Bs is usually done in full compliance with the law. The problem is primarily NOT one of lack of enforcement or fraud. Instead, the problem is gaping loopholes in the law.

    For example: The law and regulations do not require that the prevailing wage account for "hot" technical skills. These command a premium of 15-25% in the open market. Thus one can see immediately that the legal prevailing wage is typically lower than the true market wage.

    The law also requires the employer to pay the "actual wage," a misnamed term that refers to the wage earned by other "similar" workers employed at the firm, in the same job. Clearly this is rife with loopholes too. The employer can claim the foreign worker is unique in terms of skills, experience and job (the DOL recognizes this), and of course if most or all of the "similar" workers are foreign too, the statute loses all meaning.

    Furthermore, since the DOL PERM data show that most employers pay only the prevailing wage or very near it, and the legal prevailing wage is below market rates, it is clear that most employers are underpaying their H-1Bs.

    The use of foreign workers for cheap labor pervades the entire tech industry, INCLUDING the large, mainstream firms, and INCLUDING the foreign workers hired from U.S. universities. and INCLUDING the major mainstream U.S. firms. It is NOT limited to the "bodyshops."

    Age is a core H-1B issue. Most H-1Bs are under 30, and since younger workers are cheaper than older ones in both wages and health care costs, employers use the H-1B program to avoid hiring older (i.e. 35+) Americans.

    There is no tech labor shortage. No study, other than those sponsored by the industry, has ever shown a shortage. HR departments routinely exclude CVs of applicants they deem "too expensive"--those that are over age 35. (So managers never see these CVs, and mistakenly believe there are no applicants.)

    Shortage arguments based on comparison of American K-12 math/science scores to those of other nations are red herrings, based on misleading averages. It is also rank hypocrisy, since the same employers who claim that "Johnnie can't do math" are laying off tens of thousands of Americans who had been top math/science students when they were kids.

    The world's "best and brightest" should be welcomed, but only a tiny percentage of H-1Bs are in that league. Meanwhile, the H-1B program results in many of our own best and brightest U.S. citizens and permanent residents being squeezed out of the market once they accumulate 10 years or so of experience, and worse, many top college students are discouraged by H-1B and offshoring from pursuing the field in the first place. In other words, H-1B is causing an internal brain drain of American talents.

    Though the industry lobbyists claim that the importation of H-1Bs avoids the offshoring of work, the visa is actually used to facilitate shipping the work abroad. Moreover, many types of work cannot be offshored well; employers still want to save money, though, so they fill these kinds of jobs with H-1Bs, who are cheaper to hire than the Americans.

    The National Science Foundation, a key government agency, actually advocated the use of the H-1B program as a means of holding down PhD salaries, by flooding the job market with foreign students. The NSF added that the stagnation of salaries would push domestic students away from PhD study, which is exactly what has happened. Former Fed chair Alan Greenspan has also explicitly advocated the use of H-1B to hold down tech salaries.

    The per-capita rates of entrepreneurship and patents among immigrant engineers have been similar to, or lower than, those of natives. Indeed, Prof. Jennifer Hunt, much cited by the industry, found that
    After I control for field of study, in the middle graph, and education, in the bottom graph, both main work visa groups [i.e. H-1Bs who came directly to the U.S.] and student/trainee visa holders [H-1Bs who first came to the U.S. as students and later entered the job market under the visa] have statistically significantly lower patenting probabilities than natives...
    Thus the displacement of the American workers has not produced a net positive effect.

    Proposals to establish fast-track green card programs to retain the foreign workers are misguided. First, in the EB-1 green card category, which is for outstanding talents, waits are short. Second, and more importantly, the foreign workers are mostly young, and would still crowd out American workers of age 35+ even with green cards.

    Other than a minuscule exceptional category, H-1B employers are NOT required to try to fill the jobs with Americans before hiring the foreign workers.

    The claims that each H-1B creates four new jobs are based on faulty statistical analysis and are obviously fallacious anyway. Filling the jobs with qualified Americans would have the same job-generating effects.

    WHAT SHOULD BE DONE: The bipartisan Durbin/Grassley bill in the Senate is an excellent bill. However, note that some parts are extremely useful while others are rather useless. The most useful provision would redefine the legal term prevailing wage so that it would reflect the true market wage, which is NOT the case currently. The provision extending the H-1B-dependency restrictions to all employers would also be of value. By contrast, the portions of the bill dealing with fraud and enforcement are NOT useful, since (as stated earlier), the problems with H-1B are loopholes, not enforcement. In addition, for reasons give above, green card programs should NOT be expanded or liberalized.
  3. Jack's Avatar
    "What do you think about Utah bills"

    Legislative theater, but so far out to be highly entertaining. For someone who's been around and presumably knows what a joke it is, Frank Sharry was efusive, calling Utah "the anti-Arizona". That endorsement didn't sit well with some in the anti-enforcement movement because besides the guest worker component, there was also actual enforcement.

  4. US Visa Extension's Avatar
    It is required that physical presence is established within the U.S. for a total of at least one half of the period of required continuous residence. That is, two and a half years for most applicants and one and a half years for spouses of U.S. citizens.
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