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CIR’s Renewed Strength

Although it may seem like Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”) has lost some steam, the push for CIR has continued its momentum and, if anything, has picked up more. Silicon Valley’s tech companies have recently renewed is support for CIR in the wake of the government shutdown.

Well known tech figures like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Steve Balmer of Microsoft, Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, Drew Houson of Dropbox, Andrew Mason of Groupon, and Reid Hoffman of Linkedin have formed a political advocacy group called “FWD.us” to use the power of technology in order to persuade Congress to get behind CIR. Part of their campaign includes trips to Washington, social media campaigns and a hackathon headlined by industry leaders. FWD.us has also partnered with a diverse array of other groups to rally support for CIR, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Bibles Badges and Businesses, and the Partnership for a New American Economy.

The Hackathon in particular is of interest. Dubbed the DREAMer Hackathon and hosted at Linkedin’s Mountain View, California headquarters, it is specifically aimed at bringing together undocumented youth to work on tech projects under the advisements of Zuckerberg, Hoffman, and other tech executives.

On a separate front, the Consumer Electronics Association (“CEA”), one of America’s leading tech trade groups, is also planning a lobbying campaign for immigration reform.

There have been mixed signals coming from Congress about where the CIR bill is headed. In a speech on Thursday, October 17, President Obama said that CIR should be addressed by the end of his year. However, some tech figures believe that the fight for CIR may spill into 2014, and President Obama did admit that immigration reform may take a backseat to some of the ongoing fighting in Congress. The following Friday, President Obama announced his nomination for former Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson as the head for the Department of Homeland Security, which houses USCIS and other immigration-related agencies. We hope that Johnson, as a known Democrat, will be a positive addition to the push for CIR.

As of now, the House Judiciary Committee has already approved a set of four immigration bills that dealt with issues ranging from E-Verify improvements to the SKILLS Visa Act to the agricultural guest-worker program. These isolated bills do more harm than good to address the problems of our immigration system.

Our office hopes that CIR will pass and will be a substantial step towards reforming America’s broken immigration system. As a nation of immigrants, it is only fair to reward those who have come to this country and have worked hard to work for America’s benefit. If you have any questions about CIR or if you have any other immigration issues, contact our office so that we may assist you.

Tags: #CIR, #Comprehensive Immigration Reform, #immigration law, #immigration law attorney, #immigration law lawyer

The Startup Act of 3.0 – a Path to Citizenship for Entrepreneurial Immigrants

In the midst of all of the CIR, yet another piece of legislation has entered the fray. The Startup Act of 3.0 is finally getting some traction in Congress, with its recent introduction in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Introduced by a group of legislators led by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), the Act would allow for 75,000 individuals who are already in the United States on either H-1B visas or F-1 student visas to gain a path to citizenship. To do this, they would have to invest at least $100,000 and start a business that employs at least two full-time employees. The entrepreneurs would have then three more years to get to at least five employees and then receive permanent legal permanent residence (a “green card”).

“The Kauffman Foundation shows data that nearly all net new jobs created over the last 3 decades – nearly 40 million jobs – were created by these high-growth entrepreneurial businesses,” Senator Moran says. “In fact, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were started by first- or second-generation immigrants. The businesses high-skilled immigrants create are the source of jobs for Americans, the source of innovation and economic growth.”

The Act also benefits STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Masters and PhD students who are on visas to conditionally receive a green card if they remain in their fields for at least five years. Afterwards, they could get permanent green card status.

This bill has been introduced twice before, once in 2010 and once in 2011. With the recent buzz about CIR this year, hopefully this Act will do better than its two predecessors.

A path to citizenship for entrepreneurs already exists through the EB-5 category. However, the investment threshold can be prohibitive for most start-ups. Most H1-B and F-1 student visa holders do not have the $1,000,000 or $500,000 needed to immediately invest and gain green cards through the EB-5 program, especially when typically it only takes $20,000 to $30,000 to build a high tech business. Furthermore, there must be at least 10 jobs created for each EB-5 investment.

Our office is enthusiastic about the Startup Act 3.0. H1-B and F-1 visa holders contribute enormously to the American economy, through their minds, technical skills, and entrepreneurial spirit. It is only fair to offer them a chance to stay in the United States and further contribute to our economy while also creating jobs for local communities.

Contact us if you have any questions about this article or about your own immigration situation!

Tags: #CIR, #F-1, #h1-b, #immigration law attorney, #immigration law lawyer, #STEM

Potential Changes to the H1-B Visa

April 1, 2013 marks the day USCIS will start taking H1-B Visa applications for the next fiscal year. As this date approaches amidst the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”) debate, the question of how much CIR will change the H1-B visa process comes up.

The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, a bipartisan CIR bill introduced by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Klobuchar (D-MN), Rubio (R-FL), and Coons (D-DE) at the end of January this year, touched upon on some of these changes. Not only will it nearly double the current H1-B visa cap of 65,000 to 115,000, it will also allow spouses of H1-B beneficiaries to work. An unlimited number of H-1B visas will be available to those with a U.S. Master’s degrees, up from the current limit of 20,000.. It would also give H1-B visa beneficiaries much needed flexibility by removing procedural hurdles and costs when changing employers and restoring revalidation for E, H, L, O, and P nonimmigrant visa categories. Fees from the H1-B and other immigration programs would fund an initiative to attract more STEM talent to come and stay in the United States.

Please note that until the Immigration Innovation Act is passed into law, the H-1B visa numbers are limited to 65,000 with an additional 20,000 for those with US Master’s degrees. H-4 visa holders cannot work. This is the current status-quo as we approach the H-1B Quota for fiscal year 2014.

Major Silicon Valley companies like Microsoft, HP, Intel, Cisco, and Oracle support this Act.. We too support this Act as well, as it will not only address the shortage of skilled labor in the IT field, but will also help America gain its technical edge over other countries. Although some critics of the Immigration Innovation Act and the H1-B visa in general condemn the visa as a way of outsourcing labor and displacing American talent, those criticisms are unfounded. The reason why these criticisms are unfounded is because H1-B visa holders would rather stay and further contribute to the American economy, but have no choice but to go back when their visa expires. By offering a path to citizenship, or at least providing flexibility to other nonimmigrant visa categories, it encourages H1-B beneficiaries to remain in the US where they pay taxes, start companies that hire more American labor, and otherwise contribute to the American economy.

Stay tuned for more articles on CIR, H1-B, and other immigration issues. Contact us if you have any questions about this article or about your own immigration situation!

Tags: #CIR, #H1-B Visa, #immigration law attorney, #immigration law lawyer, #USCIS




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