So this was the first fully active year of the site and the response has been overwhelming to say the very least. Combine that with a year in US Immigration that was all of surprising, frustrating, stagnant, cringeworthy but in many areas full of opportunities.
We are really grateful for all the comments and feedback to the site as it is this community that keeps the site active and full of new information for everyone to learn and benefit from. As best as we can, we have tried to write articles that are practically informative to answer firstly the most common questions and concerns of all foreigners as they seek to come to the US. Additionally we want to address areas that people may not be aware about the US visa system, life in the US as well as US Immigration issues as a whole.
So as 2009 draws to a close, we would like to again thank you all in participating in the e3visa.info experience and hope you come back again in 2010 and continue to spread the word far and wide to help ever more people.
We also want to highlight some of the major US Immigration talking points of 2009 in one spot so people can get an idea of both how far and how little we have traveled at the same time.
- The biggest US Immigration story in the early part of the year was a reflection of the US and Global macro economy as many foreigners were laid off in all sectors and all sizes of companies. A good percentage of these people were forced to return to their home countries, unable like their US resident laid off counterparts to find work. However we continued to hear great stories from all people of immigrants overcoming the odds to continue their life in the US.
- The annual H1B visa season opened as normal on April 1, 2009 for FY2010 and it was almost like nothing happened as the days went by. In recent years there was such a rush on this day it has become almost mandatory to pay for premium processing to ensure the best chance of being selected. Essentially if you hadn’t submitted your application on April 1-3 in recent years you had almost no chance of getting an h1b visa and even if you had that was certainly no guarantee. However even as we reached December, 2009 there were still h1b visas left.
- The USCIS finally launched a long awaited new release of their website. This was a massive improvement on the previous version as now the ability to find information was actually practical and areas of the site were no longer out of date. However there is still a dearth of real practical information to help the average person navigate the US Immigration system when they reside thousands of miles away in far off lands.
- In conjunction with the new site release, there were many modifications to the US visa process in 2009 that took effect. There were some modification to the forms required to be filled out and the way the US Consulate Interview is conducted. In general these modifications have been helpful in reducing the amount of paperwork required to be filled and further digitizing the process, including with photos which is helpful. However it is still important to be fully prepared for the US consulate interview for your US visa as we would say from the feedback of the people who were rejected for US visas, a vast majority were due to a lack of preparation. Finally for tourists previously able to come to the US on the Visa Waiver Program without any preparation, the new online ESTA was required to be filled out first.
- As 2009 rolled along, and millions of Americans were left without work and the unemployment rate topped 10%, the need for scape-goats became great. This fueled a lot of Anti Immigrant sentiment that was inflamed mainly and ironically by politicians and the media given they along with much of corporate America were the main guilty parties for the economic and financial mess the US and the Globe found itself in. In the midst of all this gloom there were some voices of reason like Vivek Wadhwa and select others who demonstrated with fact, rather than hyperbole, that amount of companies that were founded by Immigrants (over 50% of Silicon Valley companies) and the huge net benefit to the US rather than net drain of a strong immigrant environment. Not to mention of course that all Americans, bar Native Americans, were immigrants at some stage, but how quickly people forget the struggles of their ancestors!
- Despite the fact that we expect US Immigration Reform to be a more dominant story with actual legislation debated in 2010, due to 2009 being dominated by Healthcare Reform, there certainly has been some legislative movement in 2009. We mentioned above that Anti-Immigrant sentiment has been convenient scapegoat for many politicians that so much so Senator Dick Durbin (D) of Illinois and Senator Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa introduced what can at best be described as an Anti Immigrant and Anti H1B visa legislation. Nothing like cheap political point scoring and with no regard to the future dynamic growth and overall economic costs to the US. The best example of this is the 50/50 clause which on the face of it seems beneficial to the US worker but if you dig deeper into the reality then would have companies like Google, Yahoo, Intel, eBay, etc. who were all founded by Immigrants even be able to have begun. Of course no one wants facts to get in the way of a sound bite on cable news.
- The Green Card also had an eventful year in 2009. Green Card Processing delays has further frustrated Immigrants from all over the world again and particularly from India and China who are stuck in limbo for in many times 10 years of more, unable to move or change roles due to the crazy backward system. For the first time ever the DV-2010 lottery results for the Green Card Lottery run in 2009 were published online for both winners and non-winners to check. Possibly due to the delays and the economic issues of 2009, it seems ever more people turned to the Green Card Lottery (DV-2011 Lottery) in 2009 as there method to arrive in the US.
- For those who deal with the F1 visa so they can study in the US, enrollments plummeted in 2009 with applicants from India and South Korea falling 12% and 9% respectively, as students turning their sights on schools in Asia and Europe instead. The Bay Area Council, the Campaign for College Opportunity and IHELP showed that the US needs a 90% upswing in people graduating with degrees in science, technology, math or engineering to keep up with all the new jobs being created in that discipline so it seems like unless policies are revered, a trend may be starting that will see the new Silicon Valley in Bangalore or China.
These of course are only some of the major immigration issues of 2009 and you can read our Immigration News section to read all of the details on these and other talking points of 2009.
We wish you all the best for the new year of 2010 and look forward again to your comments and feedback as hopefully move towards positive and meaningful Immigration reform in 2010.