Friday, February 20, 2009

NPR on temporary agricultural workers

NPR's "Morning Edition" this morning had a very interesting segment on temporary agricultural workers in Arizona, including those on H-2A status (blogged here on 12/12/09: The reporters discussed the fact that many of the farm workers this year are permanent residents originally from Mexico, and now living in Mexico again because it is cheaper than living in the US.
Due to the economic situation in the country, the farmers in this area have planted up to 40 percent less," says Janine Duron, executive director of the Independent Agricultural Workers' Center, a nonprofit that connects workers with growers. "So there's been less of a demand for farm workers. And there was just about enough demand to be met with the local domestic farm workers.
These workers might formerly have worked in higher-paying industries, such as construction or hospitality.
More H-2A visa workers will likely be needed when the recession ends. But for now, older so-called domestic farm workers and former construction workers will take the jobs — unless things get so bad that U.S. citizens are willing to move across the country for five months' work in these lettuce fields at $350 a week.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NYT on Expedited Citizenship for Military Personnel

I ran an article on this blog on February 4 about the new naturalization rules for military personnel: The New York Times then ran a story last weekend about the US government's plans to offer expedited citizenship to foreign nationals who served/are serving in US armed forces. (Click on headline above for a link to the article online)

The article quotes recruiters as expecting 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 New York Times article explains that the program to allow non permanent residents to enlist will be limited to 1,000 in the first year. The new program will NOT allow undocumented immigrants to joing the military.
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.
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.
In recent years, as American forces faced combat in two wars and recruiters struggled to meet their goals for the all-volunteer military, thousands of legal immigrants with temporary visas who tried to enlist were turned away because they lacked permanent green cards, recruiting officers said.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Visa Bulletin for March 2009 released

The US Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for March 2009. In most categories there is very slight movement forward, just by a few weeks or months, if at all. Priority dates for Mexican nationals in the employment-based 3rd and "other workers" categories show the greatest movement. The 3rd preference category moves forward by 4 1/2 months, while the "other worker" category advances by 18 months.