Archive for October 2012

CBP Plans to Discontinue I-94s, No Longer Stamping I-20/DS-2019 Documents

October 19th, 2012 — 5:45pm

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is in the process of automating traveler arrival/departure records and will be eliminating at international airports and seaports the paper version of Form I-94, the white card placed in most foreign nationals’ passports that denotes the date of their admission as well as their status and authorized period of stay.  Instead, the traveler will receive a stamp in their passport with a handwritten code of admission (such as H-1B or O-1) and period of admission. Under the plan, nonimmigrants arriving at land borders, and certain classes of arriving foreign travelers, such as refugees, will continue to be issued a paper Form I-94.

The reasons for eliminating the I-94 paper form are two-fold: (1) CBP already has access to the information gathered on the I-94 through the foreign national’s application for a nonimmigrant visa and the Web-based Advance Passenger Information System (APIS); and (2) eliminating Form I-94 will save the agency money and resources.

Since first announcing its plans to implement a paperless I-94, CBP has received concerns from federal and state agencies about the impact on their programs that use the document for an identifier. For example, what will state DMVs require? And, what will the Social Security Administration require for SSNs? CBP also has not yet fine-tuned an online systems query capability that must be in place before the paper record is eliminated.  While implementation of the paperless I-94 is still some months away, it is clearly on the horizon.

Meanwhile, CBP has already implemented another change for certain arriving nonimmigrant visa holders. CBP officials are no longer stamping prospective or returning foreign students’ Form I-20s and exchange visitors’ DS-2019s at ports of entry. Instead, CBP is using an electronic system to adjudicate the individual’s status notation. The stamping of the Form I-20 / DS-2019 had been a longstanding USCIS procedure, and thus USCIS is apparently reaching out to other agencies to inform them of the change, since many agencies require these stamps prior to granting benefits.


Comment » | Customs and Border Protection

Applicants Under Age 14 or Over Age 79 Do Not Need to Appear for Biometrics for Reentry Permit (or Refugee Travel Document)

October 19th, 2012 — 5:43pm

When a lawful permanent resident plans to depart the U.S. temporarily and does not expect to return to the United States for a year, often he or she is advised to obtain (before departing the U.S.) a Reentry Permit. A Reentry Permit is a travel document that helps to protect an individual from inadvertently abandoning permanent resident status. To obtain the Reentry Permit travel document, the individual must apply while in the U.S. and obtain biometrics (fingerprints and a digital photograph) prior to departing the U.S. Once the biometrics have been taken, the individual can leave the U.S. and the travel document can be mailed to him or her abroad.  The rules regarding fingerprints and photographs have been confusing for those under age 14 or over 79 because these individuals are not required to pay a biometrics fee or have their fingerprints taken. They are, however, being notified by USCIS that they are to appear at application support centers for biometrics. Just recently, however, USCIS has advised that such individuals are not required to attend a biometrics appointment. Instead, applicants under the age of 14 or over 79 can submit two passport-style photographs when applying for the Reentry Permit (in addition to all other required documentation), and USCIS will issue the travel document without requiring the applicant to attend an appointment.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, Lawful permanent resident

IRS Now Requiring Original Documentation for ITINs; Certain Nonresident Foreign Nationals Exempted

October 19th, 2012 — 5:42pm

From now until the end of the year, the IRS will no longer accept notarized or other copies of documentation (such as passports and birth certificates) for issuing individual tax identification numbers (ITINs) in an effort to “to strengthen and protect the integrity of the ITIN process while minimizing the impact on taxpayers.” During this interim period, people who need ITINs can do so by submitting original documentation (or certified copies by the issuing agency) by mail or at IRS walk-in sites. The IRS specifically states that apostille documents will not be accepted. The new rules specifically exempt military personnel and their families, as well as “nonresident aliens” who are applying for ITINs for the purpose of claiming tax treaty benefits or who are subject to third-party withholding for various income (such as certain gaming winnings or pension income, or otherwise need an ITIN for information reporting purposes). The IRS advises that while existing documentation standards will be maintained for these applicants, scrutiny of the documents will be heightened. ITIN applications by nonresident aliens that are accompanied by a U.S. tax return will, however, be subject to these new interim document standards. The IRS advises that it will return original documents within 60 days.

Comment » | Taxation

Immigrant Entrepreneurship Stalled for First Time in Decades

October 19th, 2012 — 5:41pm

For almost two decades, immigrant-founded start-up companies — especially high-tech firms in Silicon Valley — have represented slightly more than a quarter of all such entrepreneurships in the United States and have been an important source of economic growth in our country.  However,  a new study from the Kauffman Foundation reports that immigrant-founded companies nationwide have slipped for the first time in decades, and its authors believe that the United States’ unwelcoming immigration system has created a “reverse brain drain.”

The report, The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent, evaluated the rate of immigrant entrepreneurship from 2006 to 2012 and updated findings from the period between 1995 and 2005. Immigrant founders, who are most likely to start companies in the innovation/manufacturing-related services (45 percent) and software (22 percent) industries, employed about 560,000 workers and generated an estimated $63 billion in sales from 2006 to 2012, underscoring the continuing importance of high-skilled immigrants to U.S. The report provides detailed statistical data on immigrant start-ups by region, nationality, and sector.

While the downward trend is still slight nationwide, the report confirms that the U.S. must embrace immigrant entrepreneurs to maintain a dynamic economy:

“The U.S. risks losing a key growth engine just when the economy needs job creators more than ever.” Yet, “[t]he U.S. can reverse these trends with changes in policies and opportunities, if it acts swiftly. It is imperative that we create a startup visa for these entrepreneurs and expand the number of green cards for skilled foreigners to work in these startups. Many immigrants would gladly remain in the United States to start and grow companies that will lead to jobs.”

We couldn’t agree more.


Comment » | Immigration Policy Center, Immigration reform

Highly Skilled Immigrants Can Help Boost the American Economy

October 4th, 2012 — 2:53pm

The United States of America is a nation built on the skill and ingenuity of people from all over the globe, but its current immigration policy no longer reflects that history. Under current policies, 20,000 American-educated immigrants are forced out of the country every year, which is a massive loss of potential talent. By creating a complex business immigration law system, and thus making it difficult for skilled immigrants to obtain the proper paperwork to work in the United States, our already struggling economy is taking an extra, unnecessary hit.

Loss of Talent, Loss of Jobs

According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, 40 percent of current Fortune 500 companies in the United States were founded by either immigrants or their children. In addition, the same report discovered that those immigrant-founded companies generated more revenue than the GDPs of every country outside of the United States, save China and Japan. These immigrants and their children seem to be more willing to take risks, and those risks have clearly paid off.

Between 1995 and 2005, half of the startups in Silicon Valley were founded by immigrants. And in 2005, American companies that had been founded by immigrants provided over 400,000 jobs in the engineering and technology industries and did $52 billion in sales. But unfortunately, 20,000 American-educated immigrants are forced to leave the country every year by the country’s current caps on immigration—that’s a lot of lost opportunity.

A Potential Solution

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS), which President Obama signed into law in April of this year, is aimed at making it easier for startups to succeed by legalizing crowdfunding and encouraging small companies to consider an initial public offering. This is a step in the right direction, but the JOBS Act ignores the immigrant demographic.

The Startup Act 2.0, which has bipartisan support, was introduced earlier this year to address that issue. The act is aimed at reforming America’s visa system—it would eliminate the per-country cap for employment-based immigrant visas; put immigrants with a master’s or Ph.D in science, technology, engineering, or math in line for green cards; and allow immigrant entrepreneurs who employ American citizens to be granted visas. While these are all good ideas, the bill could still use some work before Congress considers passing it. For example, giving green cards to those with high-level STEM degrees is a valid proposition, but it ignores entrepreneurial immigrants who earned degrees in non-STEM areas. Under this act, the founders of PayPal, YouTube, and Skype would all have been denied.

In any case, the Startup Act 2.0 is definitely a huge step in the right direction toward taking advantage of the nation’s valuable highly skilled immigrants. However, the current system remains incredibly complicated, making it difficult for businesses to hire immigrant workers. For more information or guidance concerning business immigration law, contact Zulkie Partners LLC, one of America’s top business immigration law firms.

Comment » | Immigration reform

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