Immigration and business

  • Border & immigrationDHS selects U Houston as Center of Excellence for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) yesterday announced the selection of the University of Houston as the lead institution for a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research. S&T will provide the Center for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research with an initial $3.4 million grant for its first operating year.

  • Immigration & businessCompanies gaming the system to get their H-1B visa applicants approved

    Many foreign applicants for the 65,000 yearly available H-1B U.S. work visas, which allow U.S. companies temporarily to employ foreign workers in specialty positions, are finding that their paperwork is not even being considered due to the fact that many companies are using various behind-the-scenes schemes better to control their own employment interests, disrupting the system while also highlighting the inefficiency of the current registration process.

  • ImmigrationImproving the legal status of undocumented immigrants beneficial to U.S.: Expert

    In 2012 the administration announced two executive orders — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) — aiming to facilitate the legalization of status of certain groups of undocumented immigrants. An immigration scholar believes that if Obama’s proposed expansion of DACA and the creation of DAPA survive current legal challenges, they could form the foundation for permanent immigration reform. She also says that decades of research show that easing consequences for people in the United States illegally will not encourage more people to come here illegally. Contrary to public opinion, welfare levels and benefits in the United States do not affect migration flows, which are more influenced by economic conditions in the United States and the migrants’ home countries.

  • ImmigrationU.K. high-tech industry wants more skilled immigrants to be allowed into Britain

    The British tech industry is pushing for immigration reform that will help startups reach up to 500 million European Union customers and allow U.K. firms to attract a global talent pool. The tech industry is worth £100 billion to the U.K. economy, but companies are increasingly unable to find sufficient talent to fill vacancies.To help tackle the skills gap, British officials are investing in STEM education with the introduction of a new computing curriculum to schools and a pledge to train 17,500 math and physics teachers in the next five years, but industry insidersstress that immigration must be addressed if the U.K. tech and start-up scene is ever going to develop a firm the size of Google or Facebook.

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  • ImmigrationSpanish “kebab laws” worry, upset Muslim immigrants

    Withy persistent unemployment and worries about radicalization, more Spanish cities are placing limits on businesses typically owned and operated by immigrants from North Africa. In the city of Terragona, for examples, these regulations – informally called “kebab laws” — disallow commercial licenses to any kebab shops, dollar stores, or Internet cafes within 500 yards of existing ones. Additionally, these businesses would have to comply with stricter hygiene standards and business hours. Muslim leaders in Spain and civil rights advocates say these laws are a thinly veiled effort to discourage Muslim immigration.

  • H-1B visasTech companies push for more visas for highly skilled foreign workers

    Tech companies seeking more visas for highly skilled foreign workers are pushing their agenda as the United States grant visas to a number of immigrants in a lottery which began this week. Supporters of the campaign say 233,000 people are vying for 85,000 H-1B temporary visas. Some critics want to cut back on the H-1B visas, blaming the program for displacing American workers, butcalls to scale back on H-1B visas will have to overcome a campaign backed by powerful groups. In 1999, Congress raised the cap to 115,000 to help the booming technology sector. That limit soon rose to 195,000 before falling back to its current level in 2004.

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  • MigrationCountries brace for forced migration due to climate change

    Scientists say that one of the more disturbing aspects of climate change-related disruptions is looming climate-induced migration crisis. Extreme weather disasters, sea level rise, and environmental degradation are factors which could trigger a mass migration, disrupting populations and destabilizing governments. A recent study sponsored by the governments of Switzerland and Norway found that an estimated 144 million people were at least temporarily displaced between 2008 and 2012.

  • Immigration & agricultureAgriculture groups say bill would disrupt farming operations, decrease food production

    The Legal Workforce Act(LWAH.R. 1147), introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and approved this week by the House Judiciary Committee, could disrupt farming operations if it passes Congress. LWA requires employers in the United States, within three years, to use E-Verifyto verify whether employees are legally allowed to work in the country. Ag industry groups say that passing LWA without some sort of immigration reform for agricultural workers could lead to a $30 billion to $60 billion decrease in food production. The ag industry also notes that each of the two million hired farm employees supports two to three fulltime American jobs in the food processing, transportation, farm equipment, marketing, retail, and other sectors.

  • ImmigrationSpouses of H-1B visa holders may apply for their own work permits

    As the White House works to lift an injunction placed by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to prevent the issuing of temporary work permits and deferred deportation to some undocumented parents of American citizens and permanent residents, the Obama administration said on Tuesday that it will move forward with another immigration reform measure it announced last November. Beginning 26 May, spouses of foreign tech workers who hold H-1B visas will be able to apply for work permits of their own.Silicon Valley leaders applauded the measure.

  • Border securityHouse delays vote on “the toughest border security bill ever”

    The House was supposed to vote on Wednsday on what Republicans have called “the toughest border security bill ever,” but the bill encountered harsh criticism from different sides of the GOP caucus. Some complained the measure does not address the pressing issue of immigration reform, while others complained it was the first step on slippery slope toward such reform. The border security bill, Secure Our Borders First Act (H.R. 399), sponsored by House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), would impose harsh penalties for federal agencies that fail to meet certain requirements. One mandate aims for DHS to achieve “operational control,” or prevent illegal entry across the southern border, within five years. If DHS fails to achieve that objective, political appointees at the agency would be prohibited from traveling in government vehicles, receive reimbursement for nonessential travel, or receive pay increases or bonuses.

  • ImmigrationStudy: Disparities seen in immigrant application results

    By Peter Dizikes

    Immigrants to the United States with job offers often apply for work authorization. But immigrants from Latin America are less likely to have those requests granted than are immigrants from other regions. A new study shows that over a recent period of more than three years, the U.S. federal government approved about 91 percent of labor certification applications from Asian immigrants and 90 percent from Canadian immigrants, but just 67 percent of applications from Latin American immigrants. The study controls for variations in the offered salaries and job titles; characteristics of the firms making the offers; and the visa histories of the immigrants in question.

  • Skilled immigrationU.S. seen losing its share of world’s highly skilled migrants

    By Emilio Zagheni

    The United States has always been known as a nation of immigrants and a top destination for scientists and other highly skilled professionals. That ability to attract the world’s most educated and innovative people to its shores has often been credited with powering the U.S. economy. Strikingly, a new study of worldwide migration patterns suggests the United States is losing its reputation as a mecca for professionals as its global share of the most highly educated migrants declines. The result raises the question of whether the country can remain competitive in attracting top talent in an increasingly globalized economy.

  • ImmigrationUndocumented construction workers in NYC will benefit from Obama’s executive action

    Undocumented workers in the U.S. construction industry have much to gain from President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) initiative, which allows some immigrants to apply for work permits while deferring deportation attempts. New York City’s booming construction market has attracted thousands of undocumented workers who are willing to work for low wages, but it has also encouraged many property developers to ignore safety hazards around construction sites.

  • ImmigrationUndocumented immigrants can now practice law in Florida

    On 20 November, Jose Godinez-Samperio took the oath of admission to the Florida Bar, but unlike many lawyers before him, Godinez-Samperio was not a U.S. citizen.The state legislature amended an existing family law bill to allow would-be lawyers like Godinez-Samperio to practice law in Florida.

  • ImmigrationTech industry disappointed with lack of details on visas for skilled foreigners

    Leaders of the U.S. tech industry hoped President Barack Obama’s recent immigration speech would unveil specifics on how his executive action on immigration would affect the number of highly skilled foreigners who would be granted American work visas. Instead, Obama just mentioned that he would “make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.”Since Obama did not announce specific plans for the H-1B visa program, tech industry leaders will now push for more congressional support – even though the House did not bring to a vote a bi-partisan Senate bill which would have increased visas for skilled workers to at least 115,000.