Illegal Immigration From an Unlikely Place

When Americans think of Latino immigrants crossing the border illegally, the borders of the southwest U.S. in states such as Arizona, Texas, and California most often come to mind. A recent article in The New York Times titled "In Far Northwest, a New Border Focus on Latinos" addresses a new area of concern for border patrol - the Pacific northwest.

Increased Border Control Efforts
The state of Washington borders Canada and the two are separated by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This has increasingly become a focus of the U.S. Border Patrol. According to the article, "[s]ince the terrorist of 2001, the federal government has kept a more careful watch on the country's northern border." In one small area, "the number of Border Patrol agents has risen tenfold, from 4 in 2006 to about 40." Increased efforts in the Pacific northwest are seen in the U.S.'s budget, as "[t]his month, the agency is completing construction of a $10 million dollar office in Port Angeles, a city of 19,000", which will house as many as 50 officers.

The Border Patrol's increased presence has some people feeling uncomfortable. The article tells of several examples where Hispanics have felt singled out because of their skin tone, and some Hispanics are feeling uneasy because they are being "watched." While the Border Patrol deals head on with illegal immigration, they also focus on keeping the borders secure by trying to stop any acts of terrorism, criminal organization, and illegal importation of drugs and firearms.

Why the Northwest?
One of the reasons why increased border patrol efforts have been implemented in the northwest is that many immigrants "work picking salal, a wild shrub whose branches are used in floral arrangements around the world." Since the increased patrol efforts, the number of pickers and the business affected by salal have both noticeably decreased. One such business is about a fourth of what it was before the increased border patrol efforts began.

Many people in the area are complaining of racial profiling, claiming that Border Patrol agents are stopping people based off of skin tone and that the agents do not stop white people in the same fashion as the darker-skinned Mexicans. Schools and businesses in the area have all noticed and commented on the decreased numbers of Mexicans in the area recently, and some people who claim they were profiled have filed lawsuits.

This article touches on a few key areas of immigration and is an interesting read. Whether the main reason behind the increased number of Border Patrol agents was to fight illegal immigration or secure our borders against criminal activity, the agents are there and people have noticed.

To view this article in full, visit:

TN Status for Canadian and Mexican Workers

This post provides information based off an article on the USCIS website about TN status. A "TN nonimmigrant status allows professionals from Canada and Mexico to work in the United States." NAFTA is short for the North American Free Trade Agreement, and under NAFTA the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have special and unique economic and trade relationships that allow easier acceptance of temporary workers between the countries.

Entering the U.S.
A prospective U.S. employer may petition on behalf of a temporary nonimmigrant worker to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis. Under a TN status, a worker may reside in the U.S. for a period of up to three years. To live in the U.S. with family during this time "[s]pouses and children who qualify for dependant nonimmigrant classification of a temporary worker and who are outside of the United States should apply directly at a U.S. consulate for a visa."

A TN status is not equivalent to a green card or a permanent status, but the temporary time in the U.S. under such immigration status may be renewed in up to three year increments. Proof of home country citizenship is required in each applicant's case, and as with all immigration applications, accuracy, truthfulness, and efficiency is crucial to receiving your TN status in time.

Other Important Things to Know About the TN Status
It should seem fairly straightforward and obvious that one of the very first steps in this application for TN status is to have proof of a job offer in the U.S. Other documentation in the area of temporary employment is also required, including the employer petitioning for the applicant. It is important to remember that the TN status is only good while working for the employer who petitioned on behalf of the applicant. The applicant may not go work for another employer and still maintain the original TN status it received for the first employer. If an applicant does change employers, the applicant has to return to the border and start the application process anew.

The TN status is not actually a visa, but a status. Mexican citizens follow a procedure that is similar to Canadian citizens, but they must first obtain a U.S. TN-2 visa at a U.S. consulate.

There are dozens of recognized TN professions, some of which include:
Research Assistant

"Could you pass the U.S. citizenship test?"

A recent slideshow article in The Washington Post online titled "Could you pass the U.S. citizenship test?" looks at how the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has created a web site to help immigrants study for the civics portion of the naturalization test, which can be found by following the link here:

In order to pass the civics portion of the naturalization test, you must answer six out of ten questions correctly. The ten questions come from a list of 100 that the interviewer has in his possession at the time. The naturalization test is administered orally, which means that the applicant must respond to the questions verbally.

The Questions
I will list the ten questions from this slideshow below. See if you know the answer to each. Then check the answers by following the link below to the slideshow.

1. What major event happened on September 11, 2001 in the United States?
2. During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?
3. What ocean is on the west coast of the United States?
4. Why did the colonists fight the British?
5. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States right now?
6. We elect a U.S. Representative for how many years?
7. Who does a U.S. Senator represent?
8. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
9. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?
10. What is the last day you can send in federal income tax forms?

The USCIS website provides a page for study materials for the civics test that includes videos, publications, audio, and practice exercises. The link to this page is found at the end of this post under "USCIS."

To view the slideshow, visit:


A Dangerous Reality of Illegal Immigration

A recent article in The New York Times discusses the dangers that many illegal immigrants entering the U.S. through its southern borders experience. Specifically, the article focuses on the Texas border and how thousands of immigrants per year are stashed in houses or apartments called stash houses or drop houses. Smugglers will hold the immigrants in these houses for periods of time before taking them to other places, or the stash houses are used to hold immigrants for whom the smugglers are asking a fee for their release.

Stash Houses
Stash houses are usually not well kept or maintained, which coupled with the hundreds to thousands of people going through any particular house in a year makes for an unsanitary and often dangerous environment. Immigrants are sometimes forced to be smashed into small spaces in closets, walls, ceilings, and floors that are carved out to fit them in case the smugglers need to hide them quickly. As the article discusses, these stash houses seem to be spreading throughout Texas, and immigrants held there are treated "much like prisoners whom they starve, beat or rape."

The article describes the stash houses as jails, because they often are. One house discussed was enclosed with chains on the doors and security bars on the windows. Detailing the appearance and condition of these houses, the article states, "There was no air-conditioning, no electricity. A total of about 115 men and women were being held at the property, but the largest group — at least 50, perhaps more — were locked in the cinder block house. A few of them told investigators that they had been warned they would be killed or beaten if they did not remain quiet. Some had not been fed in days." This stash house was only 800 to 1,000 square feet - hardly big enough for the 50 people found inside, let alone the estimated 115 immigrants that were found on the property when investigators entered. Conditions like these are abhorrent and illustrate just one of the many dangers that illegal immigrants will face when entering the U.S.

Past posts on this site have discussed the dangers of illegal immigration, including human trafficking and how illegal immigrants often perish along their journey to the U.S. Once they make it here, it is often no easier until they finally reach their final destination. Once their, they have to find some way to earn money and remain off the radar on an everyday basis. Looking over your shoulder in fear every minute is no way to live life. Another disturbing fact is that drug cartels are becoming increasingly involved in human trafficking, and these cartels often turn violent in order to maintain status and dominance. Rival cartels will kill each other and the immigrants they are smuggling in order to claim territory and rights.

Cramped Quarters
The article also gives several examples of raids on stash houses that have produced the following:
1. near the town of Alton, 33 immigrants were found in a 400-square-foot house in March. The man who ran it gave them two eggs and three tortillas once a day and forbade them to go outside.

2. In March and April, the authorities discovered 32 people crowded into a trailer in Edinburg, 49 in a three-bedroom house in Houston, about 60 in a house in Brownsville and 60 others in a three-bedroom residence in McAllen.

3. “We were used to encountering 10 to 15 people per stash house in the past,” said Enrique Sotelo, the Alton police chief. “Now we are not surprised when we see 40 to 75 people crammed into small two- or three-bedroom houses.”

Illegal immigration brings many dangers for the immigrants trying to make it into the U.S. For many, legal immigration is difficult and may be impossible for a certain amount of time. While it is always best to go about the immigration process legally, some immigrants either cannot or will not wait for their chance to come here legally. While the U.S. is adjusting to the ever-growing immigration concerns it faces, revised policies and new thoughts and strategies to deal with illegal immigration are necessary.

To read more on this article, titled "For Many Illegal Entrants Into U.S., a Particularly Inhospitable First Stop", visit:

H3 Visa for Job Training

What the H3 Visa is For

The information in this post mainly comes from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website (USCIS). The H3 visa applies to those who are a:
1. "Trainee to receive training, other than graduate or medical education training, that is not available in the alien’s home country" or it allows a
2. "Special Education Exchange Visitor to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program for children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities."

A trainee is someone who has been invited by either an individual or an organization in order to receive training. Things like graduate school or medical training are not categorized under "trainee." However, trainees may be those who are invited to train in a category such as transportation, finance, commerce, agriculture, government, or communications. 

The H3 is not meant for people who intend to stay and work in the U.S. The H3 visa "is designed to provide an alien with job-related training for work that will ultimately be performed outside the United States."

Special Education Exchange Visitors
As the USCIS site states, "[t]here is a numerical limit (or “cap”) on the number of H-3 special education exchange visitors. No more than 50 may be approved in a fiscal year. So far, one has been approved in fiscal year 2012."

Application Process
Before the application process begins, an individual applying for an H3 visa must meet certain qualifications.

For a trainee these include that the U.S. employer or organization must provide:

- A detailed description of the structured training program. The description should indicate the number of hours per week the trainee will be in classroom training and the number of hours per week that the trainee will be involved in on-the-job training
- A summary of the trainee's prior training and experience
- An explanation of why the trainee needs the training
- A statement explaining why the training is unavailable in the trainee’s home country
- A statement explaining how the training will benefit the trainee in pursuing a career outside the United States
- A statement explaining who will pay for the training without the petitioner permanently employing the trainee

For a special education exchange visitor the qualifications are that:
A description is included of: "The training the alien will receive; The staff and facilities where the training will occur; The trainee’s participation in the training"

It must also be shown that the person: 
Is "nearing the completion of a baccalaureate degree program in special education
Has already earned a baccalaureate degree in a special education program, or
Has experience teaching children with physical, mental or emotional disabilities."

How Long Can I Stay Under an H3 Visa?

A trainee may be in the U.S. for up to two (2) years, while a special education exchange visitor may be in the U.S. for eighteen (18) months.

The USCIS article provides more information on the H3 visa. To view that page, visit:

B1 Business Travel Visa

International business has experienced phenomenal growth in the U.S. over the past 30 years. Primarily due to the globalization of business by advancements in technology that has affected transportation and communication, U.S. businesses now deal with countries worldwide. This post will look at the B-1 visa, which is for temporary business visitors, looking at information provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services site.

Qualifying for the B-1 Visa
According to the USCIS, "[y]ou may be eligible for a B-1 visa if you will be participating in business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States, including, but not limited to:

- Consulting with business associates
- Traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates
- Settling an estate
- Negotiating a contract
- Participating in short-term training
- Transiting through the United States: certain persons may transit the United States with a B-1 visa
- Deadheading: certain air crewmen may enter the United States as deadhead crew with a B-1 visa"

Also according to the USCIS site, "[y]ou must demonstrate the following in order to be eligible to obtain a B-1 visa:

- The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for business of a legitimate nature
- You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time
- You have the funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the United States
- You have a residence outside the United States in which you have no intention of abandoning, as well as other binding ties which will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit
- You are otherwise admissible to the United States"

How Long Can I Stay With a B-1 Visa?
The initial stay for this visa is one (1) to six (6) months. Six months is usually the maximum, but an extension of up to six months may be given. The total amount of time permitted in the U.S. under the B-1 visa is one year.

How to Apply
Information on applying for a B-1 visa can be found by visiting the Department of State site. This link can be found on the USCIS article page provided below. As the article states, "[a]liens seeking a B-1 visa from certain countries may be able to enter the United States without a visa." To see more on the current countries that apply, you may visit the links also on the USCIS article page.

Final Note
As a final note, you should make sure to know that:
"All applicants for a B-1 visa or admission as a B-1 business visitor as a personal or domestic servant described above must demonstrate the following:

- You have a residence abroad in which you have no intention of abandoning
- You have at least 1 year of experience as a personal or domestic servant
- You have been employed abroad by your employer for at least 1 year prior to the employer’s admission into the United States or if you have been employed abroad by the employer for less than 1year, the employer must show that while abroad, he or she has regularly employed a domestic servant in the same capacity as that intended for your employment"

Also, before you start your employment, you will need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

L1 Visa: Intracompany Transfer for Executives

This post will focus on the L1 Visa for an executive or manager. The L-1A visa is for executives and managers, while the L-1B if for workers with specialized knowledge. As with the last post, the majority of the information for this post comes from the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services ("USCIS") site. Not only does this visa enable an executive or manager from a foreign office to be transferred to work at an established U.S. office, but it allows the executive or manager of a company to establish an office in the U.S. This post will follow most of the general format of the USCIS article.

Qualifications for the L-1A Visa
Employers and employees have different qualification requirements, as provided below.

In order to qualify, the employer must:
1. "Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and"
2. "Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.  While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade."

For the employee to qualify:
1. "Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and"
2. "Be seeking to enter the United States to render services in an executive or managerial capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations."

Length of Stay
The length of stay is different depending on the purpose of the employee's work in the U.S. For example, a foreign executive or manager whose purpose it is to establish an office in the U.S. "will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year" while others may have an initial stay of three years. All L-1A employees may request extensions given in two year increments, "until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years."

What About Bringing Family While in the U.S.?
The L-1A executive or manager "may be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age." An important part of this to remember is that these family members "may seek admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee." 

What Can the Family do in the U.S.?
The children under 21 years of age who accompany the L-1A visa holder to the U.S. may go to school in the U.S. without problem. The spouse may work, but the children may not work for money. 

There is more information on the L-1A visa, as well as other visa types, on the USCIS website. This article can be found by following the link: