Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

VHP calls for boycott of American goods

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I’ve been meaning to blog about the rising in protectionism on display here in the US. In the meanwhile, here’s the other end of the spectrum. [PTI] (tip Sidhu via email)

Terming as “discriminatory” the US move to bar firms receiving government bailout from hiring Indian and other foreign workers through the skilled worker visa (H1-B) programme, the VHP today threatened to boycott goods of US-based MNCs in the country.

Not to be content with foot in mouth, they insert other foot in mouth also.

“If Green Card holding Americans-Indians think they are above all this and will not be hurt by the move, then they are living in fools paradise. Lakhs of Indians were thrown out without any mercy from Uganda, Fiji and most importantly in Kenya – the country of origin of new American President Barack Obama,”

The joke’s on them, most goods with American labels are “Made in China” anyway.

Speak Tamil?

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You can now enlist in the US military. [NYT] (tip Karthik via email)

Uncle Sam(ir) wants you

Fighting a war on two fronts and faced with a growing need for manpower, the US military is now reaching out to immigrants on temporary visas like the F1.

So who qualifies for this program?

the new effort, for the first time since the Vietnam War, will open the armed forces to temporary immigrants if they have lived in the United States for a minimum of two years, according to military officials familiar with the plan.

The upside for the military?

Recruiters expect that the temporary immigrants will have more education, foreign language skills and professional expertise than many Americans who enlist, helping the military to fill shortages in medical care, language interpretation and field intelligence analysis.

“The American Army finds itself in a lot of different countries where cultural awareness is critical,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, the top recruitment officer for the Army, which is leading the pilot program. “There will be some very talented folks in this group.”

And what’s in it for the immigrant?

Stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas, offering them the chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months.

Uncle Sam has even offered to pick up the tab for the naturalization fees ($675).

Knowledge of the cultures and languages of strategically important areas seems to be a huge consideration for this recruitment drive.

Military officials want to attract immigrants who have native knowledge of languages and cultures that the Pentagon considers strategically vital. The program will also be open to students and refugees.

The Army’s one-year pilot program will begin in New York City to recruit about 550 temporary immigrants who speak one or more of 35 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Igbo (a tongue spoken in Nigeria), Kurdish, Nepalese, Pashto, Russian and Tamil. Spanish speakers are not eligible. The Army’s program will also include about 300 medical professionals to be recruited nationwide. Recruiting will start after Department of Homeland Security officials update an immigration rule in coming days.

The list of Indian languages is seemingly endless. [TOI]

Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Maithili, Malyalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and also Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Chhattisgarhi, Haryanvi, Magahi and Marwari.

Seems like a win-win situation for the immigrant? Not so fast, my friend, read the fine print.

To enlist, temporary immigrants will have to prove that they have lived in the United States for two years and have not been out of the country for longer than 90 days during that time. They will have to pass an English test.

Language experts will have to serve four years of active duty, and health care professionals will serve three years of active duty or six years in the Reserves. If the immigrants do not complete their service honorably, they could lose their citizenship.

Much like India, America is also a land of paradoxes. 18 year old kids are considered old enough to vote, carry a gun and die for their country but not old enough to have a drink. The reason I bring this up, because amid rising protectionism and the backlash immigrants workers on temporary visas like H1B are facing, it is highly ironic that the nation is opening up one of its most sacred bastions, the military to the same type of immigrants.

I’m sure our readership consists of students who are or could soon be looking for potential employment. In fact, we have a lot of readers who are immigrants on temporary visas like the H1B. The question here is, hypothetically speaking, if offered, would you take up this opportunity to be on the fast track to citizenship, given the current economic situation and the security of immigration status that this kind of offer entails?

If so, why? If not, why?

Think H1B. Think Alberta???

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Immigration, business and economics work in weird ways. Point in case, Alberta (in Canada for the geographically challenged) is trying to woo H1B holders, while the US immigration policy makers are doing their best to cut down on the number of H1Bs. [Philly.com] [via]

Alberta is wooing H1B holders with cheesy shots of its picturesque downtown
img: via Philly.com

On one hand, Alberta seems to have a lot to offer in terms of quality of life, infrastructure and employment opportunities.

An oil boom. A robust economy. Universal health care – free next year.

There’s more. Highly lauded schools. Low crime rates. Low unemployment. Low taxes. A surplus of jobs.

…. anybody, would probably enjoy living in a province where the largest city, Calgary, population 1.1 million, had just 30 homicides in 2007. And the health care will be free, thanks to all the oil and gas royalties. Prices for new houses rose nearly 5 percent in 2007.

There’s no provincial sales tax, the equivalent of state sales tax. The lowest provincial income-tax rate in Canada. (A flat tax of 10 percent for singles earning over $16,853 and $39,655 for a family of four.)

On the other, they’re finding it difficult to attract highly skilled workers.

But there’s the rub: Not enough workers to fill the positions, expected to top 110,000 over the next decade, according to estimates provided by Alberta. So, government representatives have been visiting cities worldwide – including a stop today at the Westin Philadelphia Hotel – to entice potential employees to think Alberta.

To attract highly skilled workers, mostly the equivalent of US H1B holders, Alberta seems to be laying out the red carpet including ads in papers, offers of permanent residency and even a website touting its wares.

My personal opinion? I’ll pass. Not only is the cold weather a factor in my decision (I live in the Sunshine State of the East Coast) but the overall reputation of Canada also. Rightly or not, the desi community is chock full of stories of Canada with this reputation of easy immigration laws to lure immigrants who find it difficult to find employment once they reach there. On the other hand, if I was struggling to find employment or my H1B was in danger, who knows?

Being that a large section of our readers hold H1B visas or at least know someone close to them who holds a H1B visa, what is your personal opinion? Hypothetically, would you move to Alberta, Canada, with its promises of more opportunities and better life quality? If yes, why, and if not, why?

This is also an opportunity for someone with more expertise on Canadian immigration to chime in and dispel or reinforce some of the myths surrounding it.

OPT extension challenged in court

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The recent USCIS decision to extend OPTs from 12 months to 29 months is being challenged in court by the anti-H1B lobby. [ComputerWorld]

H1B rejected? H3 maybe?

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At their wits end, faced with the fiasco that is the H1B visa quota and the subsequent random lottery, employers and immigration attorneys are trying to come up with creative alternatives. One of these includes the H3 visa, which has a separate quota and will allow the applicant enter the US as a trainee instead of full time employee. [PRWeb]

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