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by Bano Itayim, Attorney and ImmigRanter at Slowik & Robinson, LLC

SRLaw-No-amnestyAt a time when immigration is a hot button issue, and the nation focusing on who will become the next president, the Obama Administration has deported nearly 400,000 immigrants since 2009.  The goal – to deport the bad guys – the criminals. While the administration is focusing on the bad guys, who is focusing on the good guys? Under the Obama Administration the application of the laws governing immigration is harsher than they have ever been. However, the federal government is exercising its control over state authority by emphasizing the use of what is called Prosecutorial Discretion.

Prosecutorial Discretion is exactly what it sounds like: prosecutors using their discretion on deciding which cases to bring before the courts. In this situation, the prosecutors being Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys. They choose whether a case should go forward at all, or to what extent the letter of the law should be followed.  In June 2011, a memo was issued by the Chief Legal Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton, basically reminding ICE officials of their duty to use good judgment in the prosecution of immigration cases; however, nothing more became of that directive.

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by Don Slowik, Attorney and ImmigRanter at Slowik & Robinson, LLC

Employment is picking up, and so is the need for qualified immigrants. Unfortunately, the situation wasn’t helped by Donald Neufeld’s January 8, 2010 guidance memorandum. It had an adverse impact on employers, particularly IT consulting and staffing companies who placed H-1B consultants at clients’ sites. The memo required that the client provide a letter stating that the consultant worked there, that they were performing the duties necessary for H-1B employment and that the consulting company retained the right to control the consultant’s employment. It was a requirement almost impossible to meet for reasons having to do with employment confidentiality agreements, with client knowledge of the entire chain of events that led from their need to the consultant’s appearance, and with the client’s willingness to supply such certification.

On March 12, 2012 the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a revised Q&A on the Neufeld memo that addressed the issue. The answers to Questions 5 and 13 removed the requirement that the client provide the letter.  It does require, though, that the employer prove the employment relationship with the consultant, regardless of the job site. This has been a point of confusion, particularly in the IT consultant area, because the consultant typically is not hired directly by the company needing their expertise. As a matter of fact, there may be two or more “layers” between the company that signs the consultant’s check and the client site where the work is done. Those layers might be the IT company that needs the consultant and the staffing agency that finds him or her. That complexity has been a concern, because it was difficult to determine who controlled the employee – a necessary condition for an H-1B visa.

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by Leslie Youssef

LeslieI grew up in a small town where everyone had a similar story.  Quaint, but kinda boring, really. When it came time to choose a University, Ohio State was a no-brainer for me. The university alone was ten times the size of my home town.  Sold.

During my first year at Ohio State, I became involved in several different international activities. It sounds corny, but I was fascinated by the students and faculty from all over the world. I became a conversation partner for ESL students, landed an internship with a non-profit working on international education projects, and informed my parents that I would be spending my first summer in Ecuador. I had barely left the State of Ohio and suddenly I was applying for a passport, taking anti-malaria medication, and hopping on a plane to South America.  (Now that I have three daughters, I can appreciate how annoying this must have been).

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by Ken Robinson, Attorney and ImmigRanter at Slowik & Robinson, LLC

GOPAs promised, we’re delving deeper into each candidate’s respective position on the war against the undocumented (WATU).

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who has been noted for having the harshest stance on immigration issues, has the least defined plan, simply echoing the rhetoric of “we are a nation founded on immigrants…but we are a nation based on laws” and promises to “ensure our borders are fully secured.”  In summary, she states immigrants go home.  She would be a WATU four-star general, no doubt.

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by Ken Robinson, Attorney and ImmigRanter at Slowik & Robinson, LLC

repub2012The little known secret in the GOP is that immigration policy matters. However, the beauty contest that is this year’s run-up to the GOP primary season has made it clear: These contestants don’t want anything to do with an immigration policy if it means more than a simple “out with the undocumented.”

Immigration policy is certainly a hot button topic for the upcoming Presidential Election. We know it, you know it, and the GOP knows it. Why else the sudden emphasis by GOP hopefuls and by GOP members of Congress? Why else the sudden interest, albeit very reluctant, in a topic that the GOP has tended to avoid for fear of immigrant backlash?

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Globe-HolidayThe holidays – no matter what or why you celebrate – are a time to gather loved ones together, build cherished memories, and find new reasons for hope. At Slowik & Robinson, LLC, we are privileged to know that the work we do brings families together, in a place that truly does present enormous opportunity.

Sure, we rant about the issues that we face in trying to bring skilled workers to the U.S. while still keeping families together. And we get frustrated at our government’s inability to move quicker than molasses on most of these issues. But we live in a country where we are allowed to complain about it without being forcibly “disappeared” or put in jail.

And we’ll keep ranting – rest assured. There’s much to be done to make our immigration system work well.

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by Ken Robinson, Attorney and ImmigRanter at Slowik & Robinson, LLC

When the demand for skilled technical workers increases, many companies look to bring in foreign workers to fill the gap. The main hurdle that an employer has to clear is obtaining a temporary work visa for the out-of-country talent they wish to bring in, which is accomplished by filing an H-1B petition with the federal government. In the past, this was a relatively simple process. As the political and economic landscape has changed, however, bringing in a foreign employee – even on a temporary basis – has become increasingly more difficult.

Why are companies forced to look overseas at all? Let’s face it, as the economic forecast for the country becomes cloudier, politicians are feeling more pressure than ever to ensure that American jobs stay in America and are only given to Americans. The problem, however, is that the United States is still producing too few skilled technicians in the workplace with each passing year. And with the technology sector still clamoring to fill the highly skilled IT positions, the demand for these types of workers simply cannot be satisfied by the domestic workforce – hence the need to bring in outside help under the H-1B visa program (notwithstanding the recent push for the U.S. education system to produce more S.T.E.M. professionals – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  Surely, this beats the trend of outsourcing these jobs to China, the Philippines or India.

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by Don Slowik, Attorney and ImmigRanter at Slowik & Robinson, LLC

So the debt ceiling scare is over, and the U.S. now stands on the dawn of a golden age of prosperity as our economy improves and more jobs are created, right?

Well, what if I told you that in many sectors — particularly those dealing with IT — those jobs are already here. Good ones, too. It’s the people who aren’t there. Check out this recent Columbus Dispatch article, describing the lack of skilled workers available in the central Ohio area. We’re talking thousands of high-paying jobs — and that’s just in one region.

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by Don Slowik, Attorney and ImmigRanter at Slowik & Robinson, LLC

Between a stint at The Iowa Writers Workshop and starting law school, I backpacked around Europe, ending up in Perugia, Italy to study the country’s language and history in Italian. When I started law school back at Ohio State, I had notions of becoming an international lawyer but then fell in love with labor law and was lucky enough to land a job in that field with a large law firm in Columbus – a very good firm but very white bread. When people ask how I got into immigration law, I will sometimes say tongue-in-cheek it was because of my last name. One of the partners needed help one day on an H-1B visa  – that’s a type of temporary work visa – for a Japanese business client. I will tell them that the partner scrolled down the firm’s list of Associates, saw my last name – Slowik – and said, “Bingo, he gets the job.”  That didn’t really happen of course and was 25 years ago, but I’ve been practicing immigration law as part of my employment/labor law practice ever since. I still do employment and labor law, but most of what I do now is business immigration: I help U.S. businesses to secure work visas for foreign employees on a permanent or temporary basis.

I like immigration law because I really get to know my clients’ businesses, their labor needs, and how the foreign national’s skills fit into the big picture of their business. And I also get to know each foreign worker personally and help them on something – obtaining U.S. work authorization – that is very important in their personal life. The businesses and foreign individuals that I’ve helped on immigration matters are first-rate. They definitely contribute to the U.S. economy in a positive way.  Immigration law is also fascinating to me because as a form of law, there’s a lot of room for legal advocacy.

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Welcome to ImmigRantings, a blog of the attorneys at Slowik & Robinson LLC.  Our law firm helps businesses, individuals, and families with all kinds of immigration law problems.  We also serve their general business and employment law needs.

Immigration generates a lot of controversy and debate nowadays.  If you are in charge of hiring for a U.S. company and are considering a foreign applicant, or if you’re a foreign student or professional thinking about taking a job here, you might be having second thoughts.

We say:  “Don’t.”  With our help, the legal immigration process can get your business the talent it needs to remain competitive in today’s economy.  And, our firm can get skilled foreign students, professionals, or athletes the work visas they need to make the U.S. their career home.