Top 5 Misconceptions about US Immigration

It is interesting amongst all the about US Immigration and foreigners trying to navigate the system to live, work and study in the US so many common misconceptions exists about the most basic elements of Immigration. So just thought it would interesting to do a mini piece on these fallacies which are held by foreigners and US residents alike.

1. The vast majority of illegal immigrants come across the Mexican border
This is not even close to true with Pew research suggests that up to 50% of the 11m illegal immigrants in the US currently are visa overstayers usually on the Visa Waiver and B-1/B-2 business and tourist visas. Thus a great portion of illegal immigrants in the US are from countries like the UK, Ireland, Canada, etc. Another argument used to stricter land border control is terrorism which may be sound but often the 9/11 attacks are used as the basis of this when all the hijackers arrived here legally on a visa by plane.

2. Foreigners can just come to the US, apply for jobs and start working and change jobs when they desire
This as far from the reality as can be the case. A foreigner needs to have a sponsor employer to begin working in the US under visas like the H-1B, TN-1E-3, or L-1. Each of these visas have very specific criteria around background experience and qualifications, nature of the role, annual visa quotas, minimum pay level, whether family can work, fees, etc. To get a job usually involves coming to the US and interviewing with many companies but there is no visa that allows that. You can only get a work visa after you have secured employment and coming to the US on tourist visas to search for work is both officially and unofficially frowned upon and can result in border agents preventing you entering the US at all. So you may see a Catch 22 here. Additionally if you want to change employers, this whole process largely needs to happen again and you can’t just start a new job because the work visa is tied to the employer. Additionally every work visa has a limit and some can only be renewed a finite amount of times and even the ones that can be renewed technically indefinitely may be denied.

3. An Immigrant can stay in the US and can apply for or are eligible for a Green Card
There are only 4 main ways to get a Green Card; being family sponsored, being company sponsored, investing a large amount of money in the US or winning the Green Card Lottery. There is an exception for truly exceptional individuals but this is largely used by elite athletes, global prize winners in the fields (i.e. nobel, oscar, etc.) and top 1% folks and it is strict process. Therefore someone who has been working in for US for 6 years on H-1B and may have studied here on an F-1 Visa for Undergrad, Master’s & PhD over up to 10 years and thus has been living and paying taxes in the US for 15 years has no more claim current on a Green Card than a new worker who just arrived.

4. Immigrants as a whole take more from the US welfare system than they contribute and lower US wages
On average across all foreign born adults they pay about $7,800 in taxes and receive about $4,400 from the major US Government programs. If the foreigner is university educated this gap gets a lot wider. 52% of high tech Silicon Valley firms have at least one foreign founder and they include some of the biggest names in the industry from Google, Yahoo, Paypal, eBay, etc. Immigrants start more business per month than US Citizens by close to 100,000 and earn 3x the number of patent awards. Additionally working visa holders don’t have access to things like Unemployment Insurance, Medicare and Social Security even though they taxes into all these programs.
Finally work visa Immigrants have to be paid at least the prevailing wage which is essentially the average wage US workers are being paid for the same job in the same area of the country. This is set by the US Department of Labor and is updated yearly.

5. Marrying a US Citizen guarantees a foreigner the right to stay or live in the US
Actually whether the marriage takes place outside or inside the US, a legal marriage be it straight or gay, is only the beginning of a costly process and arduous process to determine whether the foreigner is allowed to legally reside in the US. This includes multiple forms, detailed background and fingerprint checks, thousands of dollars in fees, financial support documents showing significant assets and income, reference affidavits and proof documents including joint assets/photos/correspondence/leases, at least one interview and several more steps and this takes places over a period of many months or longer depending on the case. Denial rates

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