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  1. #1
    Senior Member CCUSA's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    New Jersey

    Legal immigrants find it a long wait for greencards ... 96.htmNews
    Posted on Wed, Dec. 27, 2006email thisprint this

    Legal, working and need a green card? It might be a few yearsImmigration attorneys spend much of their time helping legal immigrants overcome obstacles to get citizenship and residency status.


    WAITING: Colombian Monica Rengifo, with attorney Michael Bander, is seeking a green card. Her petition may not be processed for four or five years.
    Obtaining immigrant visas
    Michael Bander, a Miami immigration attorney, was discussing how his client could qualify for a green card when he suddenly asked a personal question: ``Do you have a boyfriend?''

    Monica Rengifo, a 28-year-old Colombian graphic designer, said she did -- but back home. Thus, her dilemma: Without an American husband, Rengifo may end up waiting years for a green card -- stuck in the same job. With an American spouse, she could get a green card in months.

    Rengifo is typical of the thousands of foreigners who turn up at the offices of an ever-growing number of immigration attorneys in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other U.S. cities. They are in the States legally, but face excessive delays in obtaining residency status or citizenship.

    Rigorous background checks, visa caps and visa applications that exceed U.S. government quotas -- all largely the result of an immigrant surge and post-9/11 security restrictions -- have rendered the immigration system as complex as the Internal Revenue Code.


    While media attention focuses on undocumented immigrants in trouble, legal immigrants face equally daunting obstacles securing green cards or citizenship certificates.

    Once a lawyering backwater, immigration has become a thriving legal practice.

    ''As demographics changed in the U.S. and the demand grew for foreign workers, lawyers followed that demand,'' said Ira Kurzban, a Miami immigration lawyer. In the 1970s, he was one of about 20 immigration lawyers in South Florida. Today, there are more than 700.

    Even more lawyers are likely to take up the practice if Congress approves comprehensive immigration changes that would legalize most of the nation's more than 12 million undocumented immigrants who could seek green cards or work visas. Bills in Congress also would increase the number of green cards and business visas available to those already legally in the country or waiting abroad.


    While most applicants eventually receive a green card, securing the card is no easy task -- particularly for business-sponsored immigrants. They have to wait years.

    ''It's a stupid process,'' said Tammy Fox-Isicoff, a Brickell Avenue immigration attorney who specializes in business visas. ``It's the reason Miami is losing its status as gateway to the Americas.

    ``We have created endless delays for obtaining the services of a foreign professional worker.''

    Fox-Isicoff says companies that would otherwise bring foreign employees to Miami are considering relocation abroad because of visa restrictions.

    Recently, more than 900 companies -- including several in South Florida -- signed a letter warning Congress that unless immigration rules are relaxed, the United States will lose the race in an increasingly global economy.

    What sparked concern is the increasing unavailability of professional business visas and business-sponsored green cards.

    ''It is estimated that 15 percent of nurses serving sick Americans are foreign-born,'' said Michael Le Monier, CEO of MedPro Staffing in Fort Lauderdale, one of the companies that signed the letter. ``These professionals are in very short supply [and] you will see impending shortages of 800,000 to 1,200,000 nurses by 2014.''

    Family-based immigrant visas for relatives of green-card holders and nonimmediate relatives of U.S. citizens fare no better.

    Immediate relatives -- such as spouses or children -- of U.S. citizens, certain Cuban green-card holders and foreign nationals deemed of ''extraordinary ability'' -- such as scientists and artists -- generally get faster delivery: roughly six months to a year between application and approval. But all others generally must wait years. If they come from a country where al Qaeda or other terror groups operate, the wait can be longer, said Hollywood immigration attorney Mazen Sukkar.

    At the heart of the problem is the popularity of the United States. Far more foreign nationals apply for visas than there are visas available.

    Rengifo, the Colombian graphic designer, is in South Florida on a temporary visa -- but her company agreed to sponsor her for a green card.

    Trouble is that so many Colombians have applied for green cards that her petition will not be processed for four to five years.

    In the meantime, her company must guarantee that she will remain in the same job until her card is approved and that it cannot find a U.S. worker to fill that job.

    Rengifo initially agreed to sit tight but now is having second thoughts.

    ''Can you imagine? All my friends and colleagues get promoted or get new jobs elsewhere, and I'm stuck here . . . frozen in time,'' she said.


    One recent morning, Fox-Isicoff received her morning clients -- a Colombian at an air cargo company, an Israeli executive and a German working on a private yacht -- who want green cards, but all have to wait five or six years because of visa overbooking.

    ''None can believe it will take years to get residence, even if their employers sponsor them,'' Fox-Isicoff said. ``They're upset.''

    One of Sukkar's clients in Broward County is still waiting for a green card three years after applying for one under business sponsorship.

    David Brennan, a 43-year-old Canadian business executive in Fort Lauderdale, will have to wait at least one more year before he will be approved because business-sponsored visas have surpassed quotas.

    ''It's a privilege to get the opportunity to live in America,'' Brennan said, ``but I think [the delays] are more hurting America.''

    Brennan said many highly qualified foreign executives find U.S. immigration rules so inflexible that they fear applying for residency.

    Other immigration lawyers see an increase in clients when leftist leaders rise in Latin America.

    Wilfredo Allen, a veteran immigration attorney in Miami's Roads neighborhood, said the number of Venezuelans seeking services at his office has been rising steadily since Hugo Chávez was first elected president in 1998.

    He expects more Venezuelan clients now that Chavez was reelected Dec. 3.

    ''You tell me where a crisis is, where there's a problem and what country, and I'll tell you where we get folks from,'' said Allen, referring to the growing niche in his practice: political hot spots.

    A South Florida Haitian couple helped by North Miami immigration attorney André Pierre recently illustrated the joy that immigrants experience when they finally get their papers.

    Eric Hilaire waited five years for his green card. He had expected to receive one sooner because his wife, Annie Noel, is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

    Finally, on Dec. 5, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer approved Hilaire for residency, stamping his Haitian passport showing he was authorized to work.

    ''We finally did it!'' Hilaire screamed with joy as the couple emerged on the street, holding hands.
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  2. #2
    Senior Member Coto's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Hi CCUSA,

    If Sen Kennedy and McCain have their way,
    legal applicants (not H-1Bs*) will have to wait
    even longer, as illegals go the the front of the line; 33 million illegals.

    *H-1Bs are not immigrant applicants - they're non-immigrant visa holders,
    and they're congressionally sanctioned job destroyers who don't belong here.

    What part of "We don't owe our jobs to India" are you unable to understand, Senator?

  3. #3
    Senior Member CCUSA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    New Jersey
    I agree. Is there anybody in our government fighting for Americans anymore?!! The madness has got to stop.
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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