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By Andrew Desposito (an Irish-American immigration attorney)

While many will be celebrating the holiday wearing green clothing, eating or drinking green food and celebrating with some Irish music, today is also a day for many Irish-Americans to remember why this day is celebrated. Most Irish-Americans in the United States are descendants of immigrants who came to the U.S. seeking better lives. It is about our ancestors leaving that country, often in bitter circumstances, and risking everything on a hazardous journey and being met with fierce hostility and scorn. It is about immigrants struggling, and mostly succeeding, in their new life, or making success possible for their children and grandchildren.

It is a story that should describe all newcomers to America. Before the mass exodus from Ireland provoked by the great potato famine of the 1840s, new arrivals to North America were either settlers or slaves. The Catholic Gaelic Irish were the first cohort consistently labeled as “immigrants” in the modern, quasi-pejorative sense, and their experience established a stereotype, a template, applied ever since to whichever national or ethnic group happened to be the latest impoverished arrivals: French-Canadians, Chinese, Italians, Eastern Europeans, or Latinos. But thinking about the contributions of Irish-Americans to the U.S., their story is the same as many others who immigrate to the U.S. with hopes and dreams of a better life. In time, many Irish-Americans rose through the ranks of business and politics to reach the heights of our society (think President John F Kennedy, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, etc). The U.S. is a place where any who come has a chance of doing great things.

For those who will go through the marriage petition process, the very end of the process comes at the interview for your green card. During the interview the immigration officer asks the beneficiary if they have ever lied to them for an immigration benefit. This question tends to come early on in the interview because anything said during the interview will then be taken into consideration regarding that question, by which they swore under oath that they have not done. The seriousness and consequence that this question poses can be applied even years after the interview happened.

Recently a client of ours was issued a Request for Documents from the USCIS field office that held the client’s marriage interview more than years ago. The request stated that our client was made inadmissible because it stated she misrepresented herself at the marriage interview when she said she worked for a company that was a “non-existent, fictitious shell company”. While this allegation was not true of our client, since they were never given the opportunity to rebut this claim it was required of us to file a hardship waiver to handle the inadmissible status of the client.

There are two issues to this situation that needed to be addressed, the first issue was the allegations against the client. The determination by USCIS that our client was inadmissible was not founded on any facts that had been challenged or questioned by immigration throughout the entire process. What occurred was that USCIS found out through its background checks of our clients work history that one of its employers ended up being a bad company and ended up folding. It concluded that because our client worked for the company, that it must have known the company was not a legitimate company and therefore lied about working for a legitimate company. All of these assumptions were never questioned during the marriage interview nor was a second interview issued to address what came up while the case was pending (for more than two years). Although the hardship waiver was needed in filing the response, the record needed to reflect that this was an egregious error on USCIS’ part since it neither gave our client nor her husband the chance to address the implied allegations laid against them. Despite the fact that our client had an approved petition from USCIS that was for the “non-existent, fictitious shell company”, they still implied by making her inadmissible that she must have had knowledge of their fraudulent practices. Our response to USCIS made it clear that no such proof exists and that without concrete evidence confirming her knowledge of their activities that she cannot be held accountable for their actions.

Reflecting back on the State of the Union Address, it has been a month since President  Obama said he was not afraid of using his executive powers to make sure immigration reform will happen. There is pressure on President Obama from those whose favor he curried heading into the 2012 election. Young immigrants, members of United We Dream (UWD), are demanding that the president stop deportations of illegals.

Young immigrants may be in luck.  Recent polls are showing that for the first time that Americans are just as concerned about what to do with people already in the country illegally as they are about securing our borders. Historically, people have been more worried about shutting down border crossings.

Further confirmation of a sea-change in attitude comes from a recent CNN poll. Last month, in answer to “What should be the main focus of the U.S. government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration,” 54 percent selected “developing a plan that would allow illegal immigrants who have jobs to become legal U.S. residents.” Only 41 percent chose “developing a plan for stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. and for deporting those already here.” In 2010, the numbers were significantly higher calling for tighter border security.

Canada has recently terminated two investor immigrant programs, an act that has Chinese agencies saying the policy change is unfair. The Canadian policy is a signal to wealthy applicants that they must improve their social integration in and increase financial contributions to destination countries. “All of Canada’s immigration programs are open to anyone who meets the criteria, and do not target specific countries,” the Canadian embassy in China told China Daily.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada said in a written interview that China “has been among the top sources for more than a decade”, and immigration is a key part of Canada’s plan to “grow our economy, spur job creation, and ensure long-term prosperity for all Canadians”.

The Immigrant Investor Program requires investors to have a minimum net worth of 1.6 million Canadian dollars ($1.5 million) and to invest 800,000 Canadian dollars in the form of a multi-year, interest-free loan to the government. Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Services have stated that: “Research shows that immigrant investors pay less in taxes than other economic immigrants, are less likely to stay in Canada over the medium- to long-term and often lack the skills, including official language proficiency, to integrate as well as other immigrants from the same countries.”

By Ekaterina Powell, Esq.

As H-1B season is about to begin and companies across the U.S. are preparing for the H-1B recruitment period, we would like to remind our readers about the employment terms specific to H-1B candidates.

H-1B nonimmigrants are a great way for many employers to supplement their workforce when there is a shortage of qualified American workers. H-1B program can be an alternative to outsourcing when the shortage of labor exists. The H-1B visa allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. temporarily for an initial term of three years to engage in professional occupations. Hiring an H-1B nonimmigrant is not an easy task. Apart from the tedious visa process, employers spend considerable time and resources in screening candidates, lengthy international telephone interviews, arranging for relocation of the candidates, training, etc. Sometimes however, after all these efforts in trying to bring the workforce into the U.S., today’s competitive marketplace serves as a tough reality for these employers as some of the H-1B nonimmigrants choose to leave the employers shortly after entering the U.S. in search for better opportunities.

As per the recent updates from White House last week Mexico, China and Brazil, along with other countries, are contributing more to the US tourism industry thanks to a streamlined visa process and reduced wait time. The White House released a progress report saying the Departments of State and Homeland Security were surpassing the goals set by President Barack Obama in January in terms of visa interview time and visa processing capacity to boost the tourism industry in the country.

The report said 88 percent of non-immigrant visa applicants worldwide are interviewed within three weeks of submitting their applications, as against the goal of 80 percent envisioned by President Obama. In key markets such as China, consular officers are keeping interview wait times to an average of five days in 2012 while managing a year-on-year 37 percent increase in visa demand. It also says that Mexico and Brazil, China has passed the 1-million-visa milestone.

As of June, the US mission in Brazil has boosted processing capacity by 40 percent as directed by Obama, while the goal will be met in China by December, the US State Department said. The agency said it will open a new consulate building in China’s Guangzhou in the 2013 fiscal year and a consular section in Wuhan in the 2014 fiscal year, as part of the ongoing efforts to upgrade and expand its existing consular facilities and build new consulates.

Undocumented immigrants are taking their time filling out the paperwork for President Barack Obama’s deferred-action program that allows them to legally stay in the country because they have only one chance to get the application right.

The six-page application requires undocumented immigrants who want to stay and work in the U.S. for two years without fear of deportation to submit multiple documents proving they meet the program’s long list of requirements, among them that they are younger than 31 and came to this country before turning 16.

There is no chance to reapply. “It’s a one-shot thing, and you want to make sure you have everything needed,” said Phoenix resident Yadira Garcia, 23, an undocumented immigrant from Nogales, Sonora, and a member of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition.

Concern over the process was evident as hundreds of young undocumented immigrants interested in applying for the so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program turned up for each of the five sessions of No Dream Deferred, an informational forum held Saturday here.

Johnny Sinodis, an immigration lawyer with the Arizona chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told attendees that his organization was willing to help them complete the application at no cost.

“We have the resources to provide them with free legal services. We don’t want them to go to ‘notarias,’ ” he said. “This is a very vulnerable group of people, and we don’t want them subjected to fraudulent giants.” Notarias are questionable businesses that sometimes take advantage of undocumented immigrants by providing bad legal advice and charging high prices for it.

For those working to fill out applications, the steps have been time-consuming. Gabriela Perez, 24, an undocumented immigrant from Zacatecas, Mexico, who graduated from Arizona State University in 2010, said it took her more than 70 hours to gather all of the documents she needed to meet the program’s requirements.

Among many documents being submitted in the petition include her birth certificate from Mexico, transcripts from all of the schools she attended beginning with elementary school and copies of all her school IDs.

Carmen Cornejo of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition said confusion over the application process has been compounded by the executive order that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer issued Wednesday, the same day the federal government began accepting applications for the deferred-action program.

Brewer’s order instructed state agencies to initiate policies to make sure that undocumented immigrants granted deferred action and work permits through the program don’t receive any additional public benefits, including state-issued driver’s licenses.

Potential applicants for deferred action are worried that Brewer’s order would trump the application.

“Many students were ready on the 15th to just apply, but when she passed that, there was fear,” said Alfonso Vazquez, a Phoenix College student interning at the Christian nonprofit Neighborhood Ministries. “They’ve been asking if the whole thing (the program) is going to be abolished now.”

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In the efforts to reduce its costs associated with issuing paper Form I-94, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced plans to eliminate Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.

As another reason for eliminating Form I-94, CBP has noted that it already has access to the data gathered on Form I-94. Aliens provide the information when submitting an application for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. consulate. In addition, information is provided to CBP through the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS). APIS is a web-based system used by commercial carriers and the private aviation community to electronically provide required information to CBP such as notices of arrival and/or departure and traveler manifests (crew and passenger).

Form I-94 plays a central role in documenting proper admission and maintenance of status and is used by a variety of entities ranging from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to state motor vehicle bureaus to verify aliens’ immigration status. It remains to be seen how these entities will be handling verification of lawful status without Form I-94.

The Justice Department announced today that it filed a lawsuit against Tuscany Hotel and Casino LLC in Las Vegas, alleging that the company engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in the employment eligibility verification and re-verification process. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires employers to treat all authorized workers equally during the hiring, firing and employment eligibility verification process, regardless of their national origin or citizenship status. This conforms with the 14th Amendment’s protection against discrimination based on national origin, a protected class under the U.S. Constitution.

The complaint alleges that Tuscany treated non-citizens differently from U.S. citizens during the employment eligibility verification and reverification process by requesting non-citizen employees to provide more or different documents or information than required during the initial employment eligibility verification process, and demanded specific documents during the reverification process. The complaint further alleges that Tuscany subjected lawful permanent residents to unnecessary reverification based on their citizenship status after requesting and entering into the payroll system the expiration date of their Permanent Resident Cards (green cards) for purposes of reverification.

“Employers must not treat authorized workers differently during the employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status or national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The department vigorously enforces the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA so that authorized workers are treated fairly in the work place.”

California’s agency that licenses lawyers wants to admit an illegal immigrant to practice law, an unprecedented request that the state’s highest court decided Wednesday to review.

The State Bar of California certified Sergio C. Garcia after he passed a written test and a moral examination, sending it to the California Supreme Court for routine approval. The bar informed the court at the time that Garcia was undocumented. In a unanimous decision, the state high court ordered the bar to explain why an illegal immigrant should be given a legal license and invited briefs from other parties, opening the door to a potentially heated debate over national immigration policy.

Would the issuance of a license imply that Garcia could be legally employed as an attorney? the court asked. What are the legal and public policy limitations, if any, on an illegal immigrant’s ability to be a lawyer? May other state agencies that license professionals also admit undocumented immigrants? After reviewing the written arguments, the court may hold oral arguments on the case.