Thursday, November 20, 2008

State Department shows increase in student visas approved in 2008

In fiscal year (FY) 2008, the U.S. Department of State issued a record high number (710,631) student and exchange visitor visas. This is a 9.1% increase from FY 2007; and over 26% more than FY 2001. The State Department issued almost 40% more student and exchange visitor visas to Chinese nationals than in FY 2007, which was itself 40% more than 2006.

I find it especially encouraging that there are major increases in the number of visas issued to visitors from the Middle East - 26.2% more in 2008 than in 2007. However, the big question is whether these students can stay in the US after they graduate, and use their education here. Unless Congress increases the H-1B quota, that seems unlikely.

The press release states that "The State Department, along with the Department of Homeland Security and other U.S. government agencies, recognizes that one of the foundations of the U.S. academic and scientific communities is vibrant international participation. America’s outstanding academic and research institutions are as valuable to U.S. national security as protection of our borders."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Department of State announces new intercountry adoption website

On 11/17/08, DOS announced the launch of a website devoted exclusively to intercountry adoption, with information such as who is eligible to adopt, from which countries Americans adopt children, what protections the Hague Adoption Convention provides to families and more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

News article on Texas drivers licenses for foreign nationals
Along with refusing to issue driver's licenses to people who cannot prove lawful status in the US, DPS has proposed issuing a different style of license to foreign nationals. The licenses will be valid only until the person's legal status expires. Immigrants whose legal status is scheduled to expire in less than six months cannot get a license or ID card at all. As we all know, it is extremely difficult to manage without a car in Texas. Preventing someone from getting a driver's license because, e.g. their status expires in less than 6 months, or because a time-filed extension has not yet been approved, is enormously frustrating for many people

Monday, November 17, 2008

7 new countries added to Visa Waiver Program

The US Department of State has increased the number of participating Visa Waiver Program countries from 27 to 34. The seven new countries are: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, the Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia. The 27 countries that were already in the VWP before November 17, 2008 are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Starting today, visitors from the 7 new countries will need to apply for ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) before they travel. From January 12, 2009 onwards, all VWP travellers will need ESTA clearance. Full details about the ESTA program, including FAQs and information sheets, are here:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

High tech companies are getting creative in hiring foreign nationals

An article in the Harvard Business Review discusses strategies that companies are adopting when the shortage of H-1B visas prevents them hiring the employees that they want.