History, numbers show U.S. politicians “solutions” for Refugees not ideal

In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France on November 13, many American politicians have come out with their takes on whether or not Syrian refugees should be allowed to enter the country and applied for citizenship through refugee or asylum status. Many, especially those on the right, have shown their true colors by speaking out against allowing refugees from a war-torn country to enter the United States. It is clear that many of those in positions of power here in America are against the United States taking the “tired, poor and huddled masses,” to quote Emma Lazarus.

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill on Nov. 19 that would stall the program that allows Syrian refugees into the U.S. with a vote of 289-137. Of the 289 votes, 242 of them were Republicans who cited “national security” as the main reason for denying Syrians the right to refuge. The vote had enough of a majority to pass even after a potential veto from President Barack Obama. Although the Senate could still vote against the bill, it is clear that President Obama is one of few politicians on Capitol Hill that see Syrian Refugees for what they are: refugees looking to escape a terrible home for a better one. Before the vote took place, Republican Senator Elaine Morgan wrote an email to her colleagues suggesting that Syrian Refugees be moved to a “refugee camp” if admitted to the United States; as if to say we still lived in 1942. Morgan also wrote her own special commentary of the Muslim religion, saying their philosophy is to “murder, rape and decapitate anyone who is non-Muslim.”

One particularly puzzling case is that of Mayor John Cranley. Cranley, who recently discussed future plans for Cincinnati becoming one of the most “friendly cities” for immigrants in the next few years, had a less-than-humanitarian take on Syrian refugees in a statement following the Paris attacks:

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Mayor John Cranley cited several new initiatives he expects Cincinnati to take in making the South-west Ohio city the “most immigrant friendly city in the United States.” Cranley hopes to oversee an immigration Task Force, which Cranley started in 2014, to help create international attraction.

Among the initiatives the Task Force looks to bring forward are creating a center for new Cincinnatians that helps connect immigrants to services and other residents, launching a training program to help companies recruit international job candidates, providing immigrants with financial literacy training to help them navigate money management and home buying and marketing Cincinnati as an ideal location for manufacturing.

Another angle the Task Force looks to take is training police officers in cultural sensitivity, which could have something to do with the recent happenings in Cincinnati involving violence among the police force. Cincinnati is trying very hard to re-brand the local police force.

Given that the primary goals are creating jobs and spurring local growth, Cranley could be looking to primarily attract immigrants in the EB-5 program; where entrepreneurs and investors from overseas will come to the United States to invest in a commercial enterprise to help create jobs. The process is mutually beneficial to the Targeted Employment Area and immigrant alike, as the immigrant looks to attain Green Card Status through the program. There is also a Regional Center located in Cincinnati. Cranley may see that is the greatest opportunity fund several projects around the growing city.

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Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed several changes to its F-1 non-immigrant student visa regulations on optional practical training (OPT) for those working on degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The proposed extension would increase the OPT period to 24 months, which would allow STEM students to apply for a longer work authorization extension than before. The OPT program used to only last 17 months. The OPT period would start after the F-1 student completes his or her initial OPT period, which lasts 12 months. The proposal favors F-1 STEM students in several other ways.
Ideally, the longer amount of time for F-1 students would allow them to apply for several different H-1B job opportunities. H-1B visa could be a first step for F-1 students to begin a career and apply for their green card. In recent years, it has been difficult for F-1 graduates to apply for employment opportunities through an H-1B visa, given that the number of H-1B applicants has increased several years in a row. Last year saw almost two-thirds too many H-1B applications, as over 240,000 applied for a limit of 85,000 H-1B’s available.
Also, those STEM graduates who would leave the U.S. after completing the initial one-year OPT program can return and receive the same extension if they choose to return for a Master’s degree. Any F-1 student on a seventeen month extension can apply for the additional extension if the proposed ruling passes. If a graduated F-1 student with a STEM degree goes through an unemployment period, the proposal would increase that period to fill out a form I-765 from 30 to 60 days.
Several things must be completed before an F-1 student receives the extension, however. The Mentoring and Training Program (MTP) requires certain authorizations for those looking to extend their OPT program. The MTP requires the employers of F-1 students to prove that the students remains committed to work that has to do with their previous STEM education. The employer of an F-1 student using the STEM OPT program must be prepared to prove all facets of employment, including salary, hours, services, and benefits to show that the employee is being compensated properly. For the MTP, employers must show how the F-1 student will learn while on the job by stating their job description and goals to show it is a useful training opportunity. They will need to explain, in detail, the necessary skills that the student will learn while working for them. They will need to show how the training is directly related to STEM courses. They will also need to keep track of the student’s performance and evaluate them properly to show that the training is proving to be fruitful. Basically, employers have to be prepared to work for their STEM OPT workers to be employed and also show that they have helped train the student to help them in their future endeavors.
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On October 1, the Fifth Employment-Based preference (EB-5) Regional Center program was extended to Dec. 11 in order to give Congress more time to draft a long-term resolution. The program helps provide a crucial boost of foreign capital through investments from foreign nationals looking to attain Green Card/Permanent resident status through the program.

The EB-5 program impacts local economy as well as the national economy. A base investment of $500,000 would create at least ten jobs, since that is the requirement for a foreign investor looking to acquire permanent resident status. These investments often occur in industries in Targeted Employment Areas (TEA’s), creating jobs and generating capital in areas that sorely need them. The direct effects of an EB-5 investment also include contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and State, Local, and Federal taxes. Along with the inevitable job increases, the EB-5 program also helps stimulate the economy through household expenditures, as the investors themselves will contribute to the economy through every-day household needs (automobiles, moving, travel etc.). Given the state of the U.S. economy, the influx of money from foreign investors would improve the job market and overall cash-flow in foreign and domestic areas.
If, by Dec. 11, Congress decides to increase the visa limit to the desired 20,000/year, the program would be able to support over 100,000 jobs for Americans and generate billions of dollars to the U.S. GDP. Those numbers are almost 1/3 of that as the visa limit currently stands. In order to prove that their investment has generated and supported 10 full-time jobs, the investor must fill out a form I-829. Once approved, immigration restrictions are lifted. Given the desire for the EB-5 investor to become a full-time U.S. citizen, it is clear that jobs are almost always guaranteed to be created through the EB-5 regional center program.

During the 2013 fiscal year alone, spending associated with EB-5 Regional Center investors contributed $3.58 billion to U.S. GDP and supported over 41,000 U.S. jobs. Their spending contributed over $750,000 to federal and local government tax revenues. The EB-5 provides jobs for all sorts of industries, including hospitals, construction, legal services, wholesale trade, real-estate, restaurants and transportation. Although most of the investors gravitate to the larger states and cities, as do most people, investors target all TEA’s where investments are needed to help stimulate the economy.

In a time in our country where it has become increasingly difficult to secure and use traditional sources of financing for development projects, such as traditional construction loans, developer equity and tax credits, EB-5 investments have become an increasingly useable and important source of finances. Those on an EB-5 visa have a great incentive for their investment to be successful, as they came to the U.S. searching for the best way for them to obtain a permanent residency visa. In order to do that, they must create jobs. EB-5 investors handle all kinds of investor-driven projects on every scale.
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The current EB-5 Regional Center program was extended to Dec. 11 as Congress attempts to draft a long-term resolution in the coming two months. In the mean-time, those looking to invest in American industry should take advantage of this extension before changes are made to the EB-5 program as the minimum investment will more than likely increase to $800,000 or more.
Clearly, Congress recognized the importance of foreign investments that create jobs for hard-working Americans. Foreign capital is a key part to the American economy, and Congress will look to spend the next two months finding a proper solution that all parties involved can be happy with the would-be revised legislation. The extension of the program was greatly in doubt as the Oct. 1 deadline initially approached.
Transparency appears to be an important goal for Congress. In the American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform of 2015 Act, which was introduced in June by Senators Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy, the Regional Center Program would continue for five more years while adding transparency and security to the program.
Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul is attempting to make the program permanent, as he introduced the ‘Invest In Our Communities Act’ on Oct. 1. Paul looks to raise cap of 10,000 total visas and make it so that regulators would no longer count dependents (spouses and children) as a part of the cap, making it all investors. This would effectively increase capital and jobs for skilled American workers around the country, if passed. Paul is clearly one of the programs greatest advocates.
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The American Dream is under fire after a government decision to backtrack on its promise to thousands of skilled immigrants, but justice may be coming in the form of a class-action lawsuit.
Following an initial publishing of the October Visa Bulletin (OVB) from the U.S. State Department (DOS) on September 9, 2015, it seemed that those who had previously been relegated to back-logged visa waitlists would have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency and green-card status. This policy optimization was rendered moot just days later after the DOS issued a revision that severely limited the number of immigrants eligible to apply for work visas under the new policies As a result, and as anticipated by most involved, a class-action lawsuit has been lodged against the DOS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Secretary of State John F. Kerry, and several other government defendants by those afflicted by the policy change.
The Lead Class Representative on the complaint is Chintan Mehta, an IT professional in Bothell, WA, spent thousands of dollars on attorney fees and medical examinations in preparation for his application only to be spurned by the revision. He and his co-plaintiffs represent thousands, of primarily of Indian and Chinese engineers, scientists, and many other skilled professionals that have had their lives and futures of their families put on hold due to a callous and unexplained renege by the US government. To-date, the DOS, USCIS, and the others involved have yet to come forward take responsibility for their actions.
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Without seemingly considering the ramifications for potential green-card applicants and immigration lawyers alike, the United States government reneged on their qualifying dates for applicants looking to start the process for acquiring permanent residence for the October Visa Bulletin. The changes to the bulletin happened but 12 business days after a previous agreement was reached.
In doing so, thousands of families, those on H-1B visas working in the United States, were affected negatively. Several thousand workers were pleased to hear of the new agreement on Sept. 9, which allowed those who had their priority dates in 2011 to apply for permanent residence, only to have the rug ripped out from under them just over two weeks favoring those whose priority dates were entered in 2009.
The 12 business-day waiting period was more than enough time for many families to start the application process, spending hard-earned money and taking time out of their daily lives, in order to prepare for filing their I-485 applications. Had the government reformed the October Visa Bulletin just a couple days, or even hours, following the initial and supported changes, it would have been better for families and businessmen alike. Immigration law firms are also greatly affected after this sudden change, as thousands of dollars in potential business for firms around the country are lost. As a result, American businesses are losing capital.
Along with simply losing the peace-of-mind and long term security, prospective applicants lost out on the ability to acquire travel documents. Also, if these noncitizens were able to apply for their adjustment of status applications, they would be able to gain eligibility to pursue other employment opportunities within the United States.
The revised filing dates for the EB-2 applicants will affect those from India and China, the countries with the largest back-logs and populations, the most. An overwhelming amount of those particular applicants would have been able to begin an application process with the priority date set at July 1, 2011. With it changed to July 1, 2009, those same applicants will now be forced to change their mind-set and future after a failed attempt at getting the process for permanent residence started. Some numbers say eligible applicants for an adjustment of status application fell by as much as 90%.
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As the Sept. 30 deadline for Congress to renew the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) investment program approaches, questions arise as to whether or not the act will expire or if a short-term extension will be established. Though nothing is set in stone to-date, it seems likely that if the immigrant visa program continues to exist beyond Sept. 30, changes will be made to the legislation.
One change that appears to be as likely as any is an increase in cost of investment for those who look to gain permanent residency through the program. Since 1990, an immigrant investor had to pay $500,000 to invest in a company in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). Patrick Hogan, President at California Military Bases (CMB) Regional Centers, said the “most common amount” being discussed among congressmen is an increase to $800,000.
Along with a potential cost increase, Hogan believes the cap of 10,000 authorized investor visas will not be increased. Regulators not only count investors as a part of the cap, but also dependents of the investors, making the actual number of investors lower than the cap may suggest.
“There are a host of other proposed changes being bantered about,” Hogan said. “It is clear Congress will not amend language such that only EB-5 investors are counted towards the 10,000 visa cap.”
Although the EB-5 program only needs to the investor to create 10 jobs per investment, it has generated much more than that since the Immigration Act of 1990. In a 2013 article Washington Post Senior Correspondent Kevin Sullivan wrote that $6.8 billion were invested and over 50,000 jobs were created from 1992-2013 through the program. Sullivan also wrote that the EB-5 program is “booming in popularity,” but also that the program has its opponent:
“…others argue that the EB-5 program amounts to buying citizenship, and that it unfairly allows wealthy foreigners to cut the visa line ahead of others who have waited for years.”
Even with that opposing viewpoint, the loss of the EB-5 program will cost the United States thousands of potential jobs and billions of foreign investment dollars. Along with that, the jobs that are created through the EB-5 program come at no cost to American taxpayers, which is not the case for jobs created by projects through national and local government. Given the state of the U.S. economy, an influx of money from foreign investors could improve the job market and overall cash-flow in foreign and domestic areas.
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The Historic visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. comes as a sign of hope for many immigrants. According to the United States Ambassador in the Vatican the Pope will urge the U.S. to embrace its immigrants.

Ambassador Kenneth Hackett states that the Pope’s immigration message will counter the GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump in his calls to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. as well as deport millions of illegal immigrants.

The ambassador further adds that the Pope will stress the importance of engaging with the world in a time of turmoil when many people lost everything in their Homelands and in desperate need for a generous helping hand. The Pope will further shed the light on the U.S. history as a nation of immigrants and how crucial it is to maintain that.

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In a recent development the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson decided to classify Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months due to the progressing warfare within the country. The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to temporary conditions as civil war, an environmental disaster, or epidemic.

Yemen has been facing increasing violence resulting in an acute humanitarian situation. The Yemeni Civil War that began in 2015 is a continuous battle between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government. Each Faction has its own supporters and allies. Violence has been escalating on daily basis in an extremely volatile part of the world, resulting in the death and injury of thousands of innocent victims. On the 2nd of September as the civil war rages in Yemen, Sanaa mosque blasts kill at least 20 civilians.
Therefore, asking Yemeni nationals in the United States to return to Yemen would endanger their personal safety. By virtue of Yemen’s designation for TPS, eligible nationals of Yemen residing in the United States can apply for TPS with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Starting September 3rd 2015 through March 3rd 2017 the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is in effect by which Yemeni nationals residing in the US will not be excised from the United States, may get an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and may apply for travel authorization. The 180-day TPS registration period begins today and runs through March 1, 2016.

Eligibility requirements include the following:

• Applicants must be nationals to the country designated for TPS
• Applicants for TPS must demonstrate that they are both physically present and residing in the United States since September 3, 2015.
• Applicants also undergo thorough security checks. Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS • Applicants must apply during the registration period Continue reading

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