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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

TIME TO BRING BACK VISA REVALIDATION

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The New York Times reports this week on worsening problems with visa processing for work status applicants at US consulates around the world. The story focuses on bureaucratic snafus, inadequate resource allocations and security clearance delays. I've also learned through my own sources that new security clearance procedures being secretly introduced could cause massive new delays in visa processing in the months. The warning I received is that cases could be delayed as long as 250 days in some cases.

And that is why I am urging the Obama Administration to bring back the option of pursuing visa revalidation in the United States. This option was available up until shortly after 9/11 and allowed people already working in the US to get their visas renewed by mail without having to first go abroad. I never understood why eliminating the program was linked to security. Applicants are already in the US and the main impact of long waits at consulates is that an applicant either simply doesn't leave the country or they pursue permanent residency in order to get a travel document. In either case, I don't understand why we're considered safer.

Visa revalidation would provide tremendous savings to the country because we would could cut staffing at overseas consulates, something that is far more expensive than having State Department officials in St. Louis adjudicate the cases. And the unbelievably serious consequences of people being stuck for months on end away from their jobs in the US (after going abroad for what they thought was a quick trip) will often be avoided. All of the security clearances would still take place, of course, before an application would be approved.

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Comments

  1. Sir real's Avatar
    Is there any Bill pending to remedy this? Greg, have any idea on this? and if there is any progress etc on it?
  2. Nurse's Avatar
    Well if people will have to wait more than 8 months to come back then not many will come back. Please read more loan defaults when this happens.
  3. George Chell's Avatar
    I am not surprised by the incompetence of consular officers abroad. The ones I ran into did not seem to have much ability to think. But, then again those are the people who are likely to get hired because the State does not want anyone anlalyzing anything.
  4. George Chell's Avatar
    United States will face very severe consequences if they dont get their act together...

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/590819
  5. Nitin's Avatar
    Hi Greg,

    I am vacationing in India. Last night, I met a buddy who is stranded here for 10 weeks now with no end in sight.He has requested his company to let him work from Bangalore permanently. Apparantly there is something called "Technology Alert List" and people working in those fields are being harassed. These are jobs of the future and America is not well served driving nanotech, MEMS and Biotech talent to Bangalore.
  6. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Nitin - Some employers need to get something called an "export license" when they employ a person in a critical technology area. It's a pain and hopefully your friend's employer is going through those steps.
  7. Grace's Avatar
    Greg, I don't believe the export license applies to most of the individuals who are stuck at the consulates with TAL holds. Our office has had visa applicants in non-scientific roles (i.e., sales manager, statistician) be told at the consulate that because their US employer is in "biotech", the consulate cannot issue the visa without a clearance. We've also worked with co-counsel on export licenses, and none of our clients who are stuck at consulates work with any materials or technology that require such a license - the consulates are simply referring cases for security clearances for no rational reason.

    Making matters worse, the export license issuance doesn't wave the TAL clearance at State - getting the export license from Commerce doesn't get the person out of visa limbo.
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