Month: August 2019

by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin No Comments

“Public Charge” Takes on New Meaning

USCIS publishes new public charge rule that will likely have a negative effect on green card applicants.

This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule that redefines the public charge grounds for inadmissibility. The term “public charge” is used to describe individuals applying for admission to the U.S. or adjustment of status who are considered likely to become a burden on society. The new rule is set to go into effect on October 15, 2019, and may affect somewhere between 60-80% of green card applicants. Lawsuits have already been filed challenging the lawfulness of the new rule and seeking restraining orders to stop the new rule from going into effect.

What was the old public charge rule?

The current rule defines public charge as an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for support, meaning that they rely on cash assistance programs for income support or government funded long-term care. Immigration officers currently consider whether applicants have used these benefits in the past, which include welfare (TANF) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income). Under existing policy, the use of housing and nutrition programs or publicly-funded health care is not considered.

What has changed?

Under the new rule, any intending immigrant who received public benefits for more than a total of 12 months within a 36-month period has a heavily weighted negative factor against their application for permanent residence, and may be considered a public charge. Benefits considered for public charge determinations now include Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps), Section 8 housing assistance, federally subsidized housing, and any form of federal, state, or local cash assistance.

The following are not public benefits under the new rule:

  • Medicaid for those under 21;
  • Medicaid for pregnant individuals (including 60 days after giving birth);
  • Medicaid under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;
  • Emergency medical care or disaster relief;
  • Members of the U.S. armed forces (and their spouses and children) who are enrolled in benefits programs;
  • National school lunch programs;
  • Student loans or mortgage loans; and
  • Food pantries or homeless shelters.

Only benefits received directly by immigrants will be considered, so U.S. Citizen family members who receive benefits are not considered.   Also, some immigrants, such as those granted asylum and refugees, are exempt from the public charge rules.

Immigration officers may also consider lack of proficiency in the English language to be a negative factor, and English proficiency to be a positive factor. Additionally, an individual’s medical conditions can weigh negatively against their applications, especially if they will likely require extensive medical treatment, are unable to work, and will likely be uninsured. The rule will still consider an applicant’s entire circumstance, including examining their financial status, size of family, age, education, skills, and employment status.

by David Tuteur David Tuteur No Comments

Canada is a Haven for Global Tech Companies

While the U.S. gets stricter on employment immigration, entrepreneurs choose to set up shop in Canada instead.  

aerial photo of city during golden hour

Everyone always seems to be concerned about the health of the economy, and rightfully so. As a country, we would all like to see our economy do better, and one way to do that is by providing a welcoming environment for tech companies to grow.

Tech companies are a hotbed for innovation and development. They hire a lot of skilled workers, who in turn generate new business and create new jobs, both within and outside of the tech industry. In the tech sphere, the best way to find the right people for the job is by bringing in professionals from around the globe.

Fortunately for our neighbors to the north, tech companies are now finding Canadian immigration policies to be much better suited to their business needs. In the meantime, the United States is losing out on some of these opportunities.

The U.S. used to be the center for entrepreneurial activity back in the 90s, when 95%of start-ups around the globe began here. Now that number has been cut in half, with no expected increase in sight. So why are more tech companies choosing Canada over the U.S.?

Economists and executives in the tech industry are saying that tough stances on immigration and increased backlogs for skilled worker permits pose a challenge to the start-up industry in the United States. Businesses want clarity and efficiency on what the work authorization process looks like—two words that are rarely associated with the U.S. immigration system. In fact, processing times for some work permits have doubled since 2014, and denial rates for H-1B temporary work visas have increased by 18% since 2015.

Meanwhile, in the past few years, Canada has been in the process of revamping its immigration system, adding new programs that are designed to attract business and skilled professionals. In 2017, Canada implemented the Global Skills Strategy program that allows businesses with offices in Canada to get their skilled worker visa applications processed in just two weeks. These workers can soon after apply for permanent residency, and can usually become citizens in just three years. In contrast, obtaining permanent resident status alone can take more than 10 years in the U.S. The program also allows applicants’ spouses to obtain work permits, making a move to Canada more feasible for prospective employees.

In 2018, Canada began its Start-Up Visa Program, which allows immigrant entrepreneurs to live and work in the country, as long as they have secured enough funding to support their businesses. Here in the U.S., we have a similar system called the International Entrepreneur Rule, but the Department of Homeland Security is currently planning on removing the program due to concerns that it doesn’t adequately project American workers.

Even giant companies are diverting workers to Canada to take advantage of the country’s streamlined business immigration policies. For example, in addition to sending more and more foreign skilled workers to Canada, Amazon is planning on expanding its presence in Vancouver, creating 3,000 new jobs in its new downtown office alone. Creating tech jobs isn’t where potential economic growth stops, either. Researchers have found that for every new high-paying tech job, five more jobs are created as a result, which include positions outside the tech industry.

For America, what used to be a great place for entrepreneurs to get started is now full of delays and barriers to global business immigration. Canada’s policies are faster and more clear-cut, and its goal of increasing its immigrant population is expected to account for about a third of the increase in the nation’s GDP by 2021. All immigrants, not just skilled workers, are good for business, and the U.S. could stand to take a page out of Canada’s playbook as we look for new ways to facilitate economic growth.

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