Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Article Published On The Plight of Highly Educated Immigrants

My article on the Trials and Tribulations of Highly Educated Immigrants was recently published by ILW.com. The global economy in which we live necessitates that the US be able to attract top foreign talent in order to remain competitive. And the intent of US immigration law is to permit the "the best and the brightest" to enter our labor force. In practice, however, the administration of our law often has just the opposite effect. The article highlights the real-life stories of five talented foreigners, employees of academic institutions, who have been caught up in our immigration system. To view the full article please see: http://www.ilw.com/articles/2010,0120-donoghue.shtm

International Adoption from Haiti

In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, as many as a million children may have been orphaned. The images of orphaned children in the news has led many Americans to inquire about adopting one (or more) of these children. While many Americans may intend to adopt a child unknown to them, there are also many US citizens and lawful permanent resident with ties to Haiti who wish to adopt the child or children of a relative who may have perished. International adoption can be a viable option for many children, but given the chaotic circumstances in Haiti it is important to be absolutely certain that children are not shipped overseas without proper checks to see if there may be parents or extended family members alive. For this reason, Secretary Napolitano recently announced humanitarian parole, but only for certain Haitian orphans. Humanitarian parole will permit orphaned children from Haiti to enter the US to be united with American adoptive parents. To be eligible for humanitarian parole, children must fall within one of two categories: 1) children who have been legally confirmed as orphans eligible for intercountry adoption by the Government of Haiti and were in the process of being adopted prior to 1/12/2010, or 2) children who have been identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for intercountry adoption and were matched with prospective parents prior to 1/12/2010. In either case, specific addition criteria must be met. Because those who enter under humanitarian parole status will need to have their immigration status resolved after arrival, it is important to consult with an immigration attorney knowledgeable in this area. While the eligibility is limited, it should be noted that Secretary Napolitano will continue to evaluate circumstances and provide additional information over the coming weeks.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti To Be Designated for TPS

USCIS will announce next week that Haiti will be designated for TPS (Temporary Protected Status). There will be a 6 month period to file TPS applications. As was mentioned in my earlier blog on this subject, there will be a date by which applicants must have continuously resided in the US. For Haitain TPS, that date will be January 12, 2010. TPS will be granted for an 18 month period. More details to follow next week.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Retaining Top Foreign Born Scientist

The US has long been a leader in scientific discovery. Many of the leading scientists of the last 50 years have worked or lived in the US, and a great number were foreign-born. Foreign scientists have played a significant role in pushing the US into its leadership role. Seeing this trend, other nations have started to work hard to lure their scientist back home, and have been having success. Unfortunately, US immigration law, as administered by USCIS, can actually discourage top scientists from remaining in the US. An example will serve to illustrate. Jin Yuelin (a fictitious name) and his employer applied for a green card based on the fact that he is an “Outstanding Researcher.” The application was denied because USCIS found that the evidence did not establish that he is outstanding. To the eyes of all but USCIS, Jin Yuelin is clearly among the best and the brightest. His academic field is Geography, specializing in Geographic Information Science (GIS). GIS is the academic theory behind the development if geographic information systems. The GPS that so many of us enjoy in our automobiles is a type of geographic information system. Over his career, Dr. Yuelin has published 30 scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals, has developed a widely used geographic software package, has had his work cited by other scientists in the field as authoritative over 300 times, has served as a reviewer of the scientific work of others, has been awarded numerous research grants, and has presented his original research findings at scientific symposia all over the world. In support of the petition filed before CIS, eight internationally known scientists wrote letters to CIS attesting to his outstanding abilities. Scientists with less going for them are approved by CIS as outstanding researchers on a regular basis. But, for some reason, Dr. Yuelin’s petition was not. To immigration practitioners, inconsistent adjudications such as this one are nothing new. The academic institution has appealed this decision and is awaiting a determination. In the meantime, Dr. Yuelin’s life is in limbo. In a recent trip to his native China, he was offered a position by a Chinese employer who was quick to see the value that this employee would add. Dr. Yuelin declined because he wants to remain with his US employer, but he did so with great anxiety.

DHS May Designate Haiti for TPS

In the wake of the untold devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti, AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) has asked DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) to designate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS, provided for by the Immigration and Naturalization Act, is a means by which the US may provide a safe haven to nationals of countries where it would be unsafe or disruptive for them to return. Given the current situation in Haiti, the country certainly fits the bill. In order to be eligible for TPS, the applicant must be a national of the designated country, continuously physically present in the US since the initial date TPS was designated, continually residing in the US since a date set by the attorney general (usually some time prior to the designation date), admissible under the INA, not convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors, and able to provide the evidence listed by the government. While rescue and relief efforts are of primary concern at this point, a TPS designation for Haiti would go a long way to help relieve some of the country's suffering.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

H-1Bs Gone As Of December 22, 2009

H-1Bs Gone As Of December 22, 2009 On December 22, 2009, only days before Christmas, USCIS announced that the it had run out of H-1B visas for FY 2010 http://http://www.ilw.com/immigdaily/digest/2009,1224.shtm. This ends a long strange year in immigration history. The statutory cap for H-1Bs is 65,000 per fiscal year. Historically, this has not been anywhere near enough. In FY 2009, for example, approximately 180,000 petitions were received for those 65,000 spots, and the 65,000 quota was exhausted within 24 hours of the April 1st filing date. This year, in stark contrast, H-1Bs remained available until only a few days ago- 9 months after the April 1 fiing date. The story of the demand for H-1Bs mirrors the story of the US economy in general; a very difficult start to the year followed by a sluggish recovery and a slight end-of-the-year uptick.