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    Posted June 25, 2014 by
    alexj1972
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your immigration stories

    It's not visas - it's business

     
    I grew up in a cosmopolitan, vibrant and culturally rich city in northern Italy. My path to the U.S. came as it did and still does for thousands of family members who are accompanying well-educated and skilled professionals. My dad, an accomplished engineer, accepted an assignment to the U.S. and so my 14-year-old self followed along.

    While my journey from a visa to a permanent resident was full of interesting plot twists worth of their own soap operas, no one would have ever envisioned that I would be working in the very field that I despised so much for so long: business immigration.

    I happened into it by chance. My first employer - a large and well-respected immigration firm - thought that my background and fluency in a few languages would be a perfect fit for the rought-and-tumble world of business immigration law.

    And so I started my career all those years ago. Soon - too soon, I admit - I began to love it, getting to know every arcane detail of employment-based immigration such as the H-1B, L, O, PERM, TN, and on and on.

    As I gained more familiarity with the immigration processes and the needs of businesses large and small across a wide variety of disciplines, it was fairly obvious that the system is broken and in dire need of repair.

    On one hand, I saw how U.S. workers were being displaced by how easily it was to procure certain visas for foreign professionals in some industries. On the other hand, I saw how the H-1B cap set by U.S. Congress per fiscal year essentially limits U.S. companies from hiring and retaining qualified and skilled foreign professionals and graduates from U.S. institutions.

    I witnessed the despair of a man and his young family stuck in a long wait line for employment-based permanent residence, simply because he was born in India, a country which has one of the longest wait times for employment-based immigrant visas.

    I also observed many talented professionals giving up their dream of enriching the U.S. with their skills and knowledge, moving away to other countries where they felt more welcomed.

    As I transitioned from law firms to in-house for large companies, it became fairly apparent that the U.S. employment-based immigration system does not quite match with the realities of today's global economy, technologies and mobile workforce.

    Currently, I have the privilege of working for one of the largest hospitality companies in the world. At any one time, I juggle the needs of world-famous chefs, professionals, entertainers, interns and trainees, performing a delicate balancing act between business needs and objectives and static immigration regulations that have changed only slightly in decades.

    At the same time, the motivation to fix what ails employment-based immigration ebbs and wanes with the political currents that seem to change every minute and are often swayed by special interests with little to no knowledge of the complicated regulations involved in employment-based immigration.

    U.S. companies - as well as research institutions, universities and non-profits - cannot afford inaction nor can they afford half-way measures that simply provide a quick fix to systematic problems that do not address what we need in order to compete domestically and abroad.

    Of course, no solution that the U.S. Congress may eventually provide will satisfy everyone and surely there are many loopholes that unscrupulous employers can exploit. We must continue efforts to strengthen corporate compliance - visas, I-9, E-Verify - as good corporate citizens.

    Ultimately, however, the very survival of U.S. businesses on a global scale will rest on whether we can change and evolve our employment-based immigration system while still protecting U.S. and foreign workers alike.

    I am no longer the naive immigration law beginner I once was. If there is one sure thing that I know is that U.S. businesses benefit greatly from the contributions that employment-based immigrants such as my father - as well as millions of others - have made and will continue to make.

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