Joined by Love, Separated by Immigration Laws

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Friday, June 16, 2006

The situation for potential immigrants without U.S. spouses is actually worse in two ways than described in Susan Laurel Hodges's June 12 op-ed, "Left Out by the Legal Route In."

First, if the employer of Ms. Hodges's partner has not already applied for an H-1B visa for her, it is too late for this year. On May 26, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stopped accepting applications for H-1B visas for the fiscal year that will begin Oct. 1.

Second, as the op-ed notes, if the employer of Ms. Hodges's partner did not make the May 26 deadline, she will have to wait until next April 1 to try again. However, even if she applied April 1 and the H-1B were granted, she could not start work then. She would have to wait until Oct. 1, 2007, to begin work. Few employers would be willing to keep an offer open to an employee who could not begin work for nearly a year and a half.

The problems go beyond domestic partners, and even beyond the problems for the immigrants themselves. When a highly sought-after German radiologist with excellent English and a sister in the United States requires more than four years to enter the country legally, a U.S. employer is not in a position to gather the best talent worldwide for high-level projects. Thus, the U.S. employer either moves overseas to a country with more liberal immigration policies or makes do with whatever talent is available locally. In either case, the United States loses the capacity for innovation that produces jobs over the long run.

If we wonder why we have so many illegal immigrants, perhaps we ought to look at why the United States makes it virtually impossible even for hard-working people with top credentials to immigrate legally.

CAROL V. CALHOUN

Bethesda

ยท

I sympathize with Susan Laurel Hodges regarding the immigration laws that separate her from her partner Kirsten, a German citizen who cannot lawfully move to the United States until she finds a job with an American employer.

But I cannot understand why The Post hasn't raised awareness about 1.5 million legal immigrants who are exiled from their spouses and minor children for a minimum of five years. Kirsten is really lucky that at least she can visit her loved one and look for a job. I have been married almost two years, and my husband is not even allowed in the United States for a brief visit, just because he is married to a legal U.S. immigrant. As an applicant for immigration who is waiting for a visa number, he can't receive a tourist visa or a student visa.

I love my husband and I love America, and I can't understand why everyone else can't understand that and do something about this aspect of immigration laws.

EKATERINA ATANASOVA

Eliot, Maine


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