Tag Archives: immigration

Life blood of the USA

My post title is a bit grandiose but it’s to illustrate an important point.

This country is and has always been a country of immigrants. No matter how “American” one claims to be, chances are unless you are part Native American you arrived here on a sea vessel of some kind and in more recent times a plane.

The whole point of this post is to refer to this article on Yahoo that claims illegal immigration has dropped. That’s all well and good but my main focus with this article is to reiterate the point I had made in my previous post about the Republican backed STEM bill.

“House Republicans, seeking to show they are serious about addressing the immigration issue after being largely rejected by Hispanics in the election, voted last week to make green cards accessible to foreign students graduating with advanced science and math degrees from U.S. universities.

The measure, strongly backed by the high-tech industry and touted as a boost to the U.S. economy, would have a net effect of extending more visas and eventual citizenship to students from India and China. It is opposed by most Democrats, the Obama administration and immigrant rights groups such as the Asian American Justice Center which want to see it packaged with broader legislation that extends legal status for illegal immigrants.” (sourced from the above article)

They essentially made my point, Democrats will kill the bill and it is widely unsupported because it will serve only Indians and Asians in immigration.

While it’s great illegal immigration is down, let’s get serious about true reform shall we? Can we create a path for people that have been here for a long time with no criminal record to have a way to achieve citizenship without being made to feel like a terrorist?

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What’s the catch?

I’ve been keeping my ear on the ground (more like my eye on the internet) concerning one issue that obviously relates to the international student.

The Science Technology Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) bill.

CNN posted on this tantalizing topic today as seen here

My two cents…

First, it must be recognized that CNN’s post is not all inclusive and does not talk about other aspects of this bill that I think are very important, especially for me the biology minded F1 student.

There are also other limitations in terms of eligible employers, eligible institutions from which you receive your degree, and of course the whopper… This bill would create these new green cards by eliminating the Diversity Visa Lottery.

The Diversity Visa Lottery (DV lotto) has long since been a way for people from countries with low immigration rates to the United States to have a chance at coming here to achieve the American dream. It doesn’t require one to be a STEM graduate or skilled or anything, just be lucky.

It needs to be said that this current bill is being backed primarily by the Republican Party and there is a counter Democratic Party bill called the “Attracting the Best and the Brightest Act” but for all intents and purposes, the bills are the same, except the ABBA bill does not eradicate the DV lotto.

The problem both bills fail to see is that these bills will almost surely present a kind of elitism and reduce the diversity of immigrants coming into the United States. The elitism is almost a no-brainer since the bills bias towards PhD holders (this honestly blocks younger minds) and would diminish or deteriorate anyone immigrating of a less intellectual skill set (through the DV lotto).

The reduction of diversity is not as obvious because a lot of these law makers haven’t been in a room full of technology, engineering, and math PhDs in a while (or ever). Most of the internationals in these fields are Indian or Chinese. No offense to either of those countries and people but they don’t need the help to immigrate in fact they are usually not even eligible to enter the DV lotto because they have such a high number of immigrants already.

Furthermore, it is a fallacy to think that it’s only the STEM students that are useful to the American economy

“The bill that we passed will allow these individuals to have a green card if they get a diploma and, therefore, enabling them to stay in this country to begin their careers to create jobs rather than being forced to leave to go back to their home countries and actually compete with us,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

 There are conferences held in my current metropolitan area where a lot of the CEOs are not STEM people but rather health care and policy people. This bill blocks the people who are really creating the jobs. Most STEM people I meet aren’t thinking about creating their own company (ironically the only person I’ve met like that is American born and bred). They want to join already established good labs and get out publications or if they want money they’re hoping to get into a big pharma, tech, or engineering company. They want to work for Google, Novartis, and so on.

Bottom line, not only are these bills wrongly going about a somewhat good thing… the one but significant difference between them, a.k.a. the DV lotto, would likely have both bills failing. Either because the Democratic Senate will kill this current bill or because the Republican House will likely do the same to the ABBA bill.

That’s the catch.

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Sign 20 Will Travel

I spent some time thinking about what my first real post should be about and I decided to focus on something that we all need and all have but can be forgotten after you receive your entry visa.

The I-20 form

The first page is pretty self explanatory. It has the school you will be attending; signatures by you or a guardian if you are younger than 18; a summary of fees for the degree program you are enrolled in; ways by which you will be paying for said fees be it by scholarship, grants, or out of pocket (parental support); and in the top right corner there is the blank spot that gets stamped at the airport when you go through immigration.

The interesting thing is when you travel again. In ignorance one assumes that as long as the visa is valid and you have your I-20 in hand there should be no troubles traveling in and out of the country.

NAY, I say. This is not true!

A very important page on the form is PAGE 3. This is the page that usually has extras like if you have an internship on CPT or OPT (<- these would be topics for another post). It is also the page where your DO (Designated Officer) must endorse (sign) before you travel.

Look at the red circle, that is where your DO signs each time you plan on leaving the country or you cannot get back in!!!

This has happened to me. I was unaware about the endorsing thing and unfortunately for me, my school was small and my DO was very new to the job. He had no idea about the endorsing thing either. I went back home and when I was ready to come back I couldn’t because my I-20 was not endorsed. I needed to request a new I-20 to be secure express mailed to me.

This is something you need to be very aware of if you are attending a school that though they have international students do not have a very solid international office. This is especially something to have in mind if you are from a country that has a suspect mail system with the chance of important documents getting “lost in the mail”.

The good thing about the signature is that it is valid for 6 months. So if you came in three months ago and are taking a trip for the winter holidays you should be in the clear. But if you are an “end of school year” traveler, ALWAYS, sign then travel!

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