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Immigration Works USA, a national federation of employers working to advance better immigration law, hosted a forum on August 20th for Houston employers to voice their needs in the immigration reform debate. Several member companies of the IT Serve Alliance of Texas attended along with legal counsel Emily Neumann and Rahul Reddy from the Houston immigration law firm of Reddy & Neumann, P.C. The highlight of the event was the ability for employers to interact with Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX.), Vice Chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee (Immigration). Representatives of Houston companies in four different industries discussed the need for a temporary guest worker program to fill the gaps created by a lack of available U.S. workers, particularly for construction, hospitality, and landscaping jobs.

The discussion centered as much on U.S. workers as it did on visa programs for foreign workers. Opponents of a guest worker program have long argued that it would take jobs away from U.S. workers, however the employers in attendance emphasized that their attempts to hire U.S. workers for skilled labor positions are mostly unfruitful. The same can be found in the Information Technology industry. In a number of critical skills, there are an insufficient number of U.S. workers to meet demand. Consequently, access to foreign workers is essential for business growth. Each of the companies involved in the forum confirmed that they could not survive without foreign workers.

Congressman Poe confirmed that House lawmakers are unwilling to consider the Senate’s immigration reform bill and are instead working on a piecemeal approach. Targeted measures already approved by the House Judiciary Committee deal with mandatory E-Verify, Border Security, high-skilled immigration, interior enforcement, and an agricultural guest worker program. A version of the Dream Act and a temporary guest worker program for nonfarm workers are still to be discussed. Once all bills are passed out of committee, they are expected to be brought to the House floor for a vote one by one. Then the bills will be strung together in a package that can be reconciled with the Senate bill in conference committee.

IT Serve Alliance is a voluntary association of more than 80 IT consulting firms in Texas who provide services to fortune 500 companies by hiring workers in US and keeping jobs here in US.

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas representing corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is dedicated in its advocacy and community involvement efforts towards achieving effective comprehensive immigration policy reform.

 

By Emily Neumann - Attorney, Reddy & Neumann, P.C.

The path to permanent residency is often a long one and the immigration journey is not always smooth sailing. Once a person becomes a permanent resident, therefore it is important to be aware of the responsibilities of green card holders as well as some of the common mistakes that could lead to abandonment or cancelation.

1) While it should be obvious, Permanent Residents must obey all laws of the city, state and country. Criminal activity can result in a trip to immigration court and make a person removable from the United States.

2) Green Card holders must also file income tax returns and report all income to the Internal Revenue Service, even if the income was earned outside the U.S. A person who fails to file income tax returns while living outside of the United States may be found to have abandoned the green card. The same would be true if a person declares him or herself as a “nonimmigrant” on any income tax returns. A non-resident return, Form 1040 NR should not be filed.

3) Permanent Residents should never claim to be a U.S. citizen, either in writing or verbally, and should not vote in any election which requires U.S. citizenship

4) Men aged 18 through 25 must register with the Selective Service.

5) Residents must be careful regarding the length of trips outside the United States. A move to another country could lead the Immigration Service to believe that the green card holder intends to live elsewhere permanently and has abandoned the green card.

Generally, travel in and out of the United States is acceptable as long as the trips are for less than 6 months in a year. Many people wrongly believe that simply returning to the United States once a year for several weeks is enough. However, if the Immigration Service suspects that a person is not actually living in the United States, the green card could be canceled. For any trip of six months or more, it is recommended to consult with a qualified attorney. Not only can long trips have a negative impact on the green card, they can also impact a person’s eligibility for U.S. citizenship. In general, to be eligible to become a citizen, a green card holder must be physically present in the United States for at least two and a half years out of the previous five years. For an individual who became a permanent resident based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, the physical presence requirement reduces to one and a half years out of the previous three years.

If long trips are on the horizon, before making travel plans, consider whether a reentry permit is needed to avoid abandoning the green card. The reentry permit must be filed before leaving the country and should be obtained for trips longer than one year. If the stay outside the U.S. is for more than two years after issuance of a reentry permit, a returning resident visa must be obtained. Even if a reentry permit or returning resident visa is obtained, the Immigration Service can still question whether the person actually intends to stay permanently in the U.S. The Immigration Service may inquire into family ties to the U.S., ownership of real estate, activity in bank accounts, ties to the community, the purpose of the stay outside the U.S., etc. Therefore, documentation which may help establish that the permanent residence was not abandoned should be kept on hand.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is highly experienced in working with employment-based visas, adjustment of status, green cards, and PERM labor certification. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

In a press conference on August 9th, President Obama said he was certain the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill could pass on the floor in the House. The comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June would greatly increase the number of employment-based visas, benefiting citizens of one nation in particular – India.

Currently, the number of employment-based green cards is uniformly capped for each individual country to seven percent of the total 140,000 cards available. For India, with a booming population of professionals with advanced degrees and experience in high tech fields such as computer science and engineering, the seven percent cap has created a backlog that can keep Indians waiting 14 years for a green card.

Though Indians are now allowed to exceed the seven percent cap when visas in EB-1 and EB-2 go unused by other countries, the additional visas are too few and do little to ease waiting times. Indians are getting approximately 30,000 employment-based green cards each year out of the 140,000 available worldwide according to the Office of Immigration Statistics. Under the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June, those applying for a green card under EB-1 would no longer count towards the total number of green cards given each year. This would allow 20,000 more green cards to be allotted for EB-2 and 20,000 more for EB-3. The seven percent cap to any single nation would also be removed, greatly alleviating the backlog of Indians waiting in a decade-long line. Further, family members of an applicant will no longer count against the quota in each category. Only a single green card, one for the primary applicant, would count against the quota. This means that the number of visas granted could increase to around 150,000 in each category.

The bill also exempts anyone who has earned a Master’s degree or higher from a United States university in the field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics from the employment-based immigration visa caps. There could be a total of approximately 25,000 new visas available under the STEM degree exception. Finally, the new bill would recapture all unused employment-based visas from 1992 to the present. During the 90’s and early 2000’s, an estimated 400,000 green cards went unused each year because of processing delays and the seven percent cap. The recapture could effectively lead to an additional 1,000,000 visas becoming available with no per-country caps. India stands to greatly benefit from the proposed changes to employment-based immigration.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is dedicated in its advocacy and community involvement efforts towards achieving effective comprehensive immigration policy reform. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection today published a Federal Register notice officially expanding eligibility for participation in Global Entry to citizens from the Republic of Korea, Germany, Qatar, and the United Kingdom. Citizens participating in Korea’s Smart Entry System (SES), Germany’s Automated and Biometrics-Supported Border Controls (ABG) Plus, and select Qatar and United Kingdom citizens may be able to receive Global Entry benefits. While these arrangements have been previously announced, this notice serves to officially being implementation of the process.

Citizens of these countries must satisfy current program requirements, and will still need to fulfill application requirements, in order to qualify. Additionally, the Federal Register notice announces the ability for current U.S. Global Entry members to apply for membership in the Republic of Korea’s SES program, as well as the ability for a limited number to apply for Germany’s ABG Plus program.

Global Entry kiosks are available at 34 U.S. airports and 10 CBP preclearance locations in Ireland and Canada, serving 98 percent of all incoming air travelers. In order to become a member of Global Entry, interested individuals must fill out an online application, pay the $100 application fee, undergo a background investigation and complete an interview with a CBP officer at a Trusted Traveler enrollment center which includes submission of fingerprints. Upon approval, membership is valid for five years.

CBP recognizes the importance of international travel to our national economy. Facilitating legitimate international travelers as quickly as possible, while maintaining the highest standards of security, is critical to the CBP border security mission and vital to the economic strength of our nation. Global Entry allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers the ability to bypass traditional CBP screening and use and automated kiosk to complete their entry into the U.S. upon arrival.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is dedicated in its advocacy and community involvement efforts towards achieving effective comprehensive immigration policy reform. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.