Sunday, January 11, 2009

Believe it or not

I had a Twitter exchange with @sbjet about Immigration. He teaches a class (and probably a terrific one) and blogs about it here. Since Twitter limits me to 140 characters, or less, I decided to put together some of my favorite, or less than favorite, immigration tales. These are legal immigration stories - people who come to the US to teach, invited by my college, typically people with advanced degrees and significant experience. I get them the right stuff, right forms, right documents, right instructions. Please note that these are actual stories, with real people including me. I can't make this stuff up, I am not that creative. So enjoy.

People coming to the US from other countries are referred to as aliens. I am simply unable to refer to them as such, so I use visitors or foreign nationals.

Rule number one is that I have to tell some of my foreign nationals coming from certain parts of the world that I am unable to pay bribes.

Despite what the Department of Homeland Security, their website, representatives, State Congressman, Congressional liaison or Immigration attorney says, if a foreign consulate decides on a rule, or makes one up, it's the rule. And if you question the rule, there is no limit to how much pain they can inflict.

If you happen to ask a Border agent on a decision, my foreign national may be kept waiting for hours.

I have a colleague from South America. She was told by Immigration Officials in Miami Airport that she should "change her name." Lots of 'illegals' have the same name and she might find it harder and harder to travel. (This was after they showed her a map of Michigan and asked her to point out where she lived and where she taught school). Her reply was priceless - if you put the Ph.D. after my name, would that help? They didn't think it was funny, detained her and she missed her flight.

I run a J Visa program, technically an Exchange program, through the Department of State. There are multiple types of programs, one in particular is called the Short Term Visiting Scholar - here for three weeks or less. So we invite a colleague to come and teach for a short period of time. He comes, does his due diligence and applies for a Social Security card and then blissfully starts teaching. Well, he didn't wait 10 BUSINESS DAYS to apply for his Social Security card. So they turn him down. By this time, he is done teaching, we can't pay him because he cannot complete an I9 and returns to Europe. We thus begin a two month correspondence 'dialogue' about this issue. Social Security won't issue a card because he is no longer in the country. We can't pay him because technically he doesn't have work authorization. Had our colleague come for eight days, he couldn't have applied for a card. Why? Because they have this INSANE 10 DAY RULE. THIS IS INSANE. And what is worse? They don't give a rat's ass about it. Their RULES abide.

I had a colleague detained because the Border Patrol told him that he was pulling out all people in blue shirts. Nice. I had another Border Patrol agent tell a colleague that this year's letter of invitation wasn't enough - needed a date within the last three months. When he pointed out that she approved him the previous year, with a letter much older than his current, and showed the documents, she refused him entry.

And if you are in the process of permanent residency, and are adjusting your status, you can't leave the country without advance parole. That is a technical term, and if I were a foreign national, I would tell the DHS what to do with their parole. Doesn't matter if you have a parent or relative die. You leave and it's considered 'abandonment of status.' Oh, and processing times for advance parole? About three months. Per Nebraska Processing Center.

It gives me pause when I reflect on these stories. It really is so much about the people behind the titles. And in true HR fashion, I want to know who is hiring these bozos? They are the government and they sure aren't here to help.


Steve Boese said...

Thanks for the mention of the Twitter discussion and the link. I knew that these issues were really irksome from the way you described them on Twitter. I think in the future for organizations (especially Higher Ed) more attention will need to be paid to these problems. Thanks for you input and help on my original question as well.

HR Maven said...

Could you imagine someone suggesting that you change your name? Or a consulate harassing a teacher because we had a congressman inquire as to the status of his application?

It's appalling and there is no accountability. They have the run of the land.