Self-employment an Option for Undocumented Immigrants

Undocumented immigrants in the United States take advantage of laws that allow them to work legally as their own employers, which in turn helps them support themselves and improves the country’s economy.

Companies that hire independent contractors do not have to check the immigration status of their hires, which allows undocumented immigrants the ability to work with a certain amount of legality in some cases.

The undocumented immigrants who are most likely to do this are the younger, more technologically aware sort who are able to maintain their own tools cheaply on the Internet and establish their small businesses.

President Obama’s recent executive orders (termed DACA) allow certain younger undocumented immigrants to work legally with labor authorization. However, many undocumented immigrants are either too wary of the government to participate in this program or may be disqualified. By creating their own businesses, undocumented immigrants can contribute to society and the economy and maintain their privacy – not to mention save a few hundred dollars in immigration processing fees.

Depending on the state in which an undocumented immigrant creates their own company to work as a contractor, they may be required to pay taxes associated with their limited liability company. Regardless, they will need to obtain an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) to pay income taxes. The ITIN works as an identifier similar, but alternative to a social security number.

Establishing a tax record and financial ties to the United States could be a major consideration in future comprehensive immigration reform. This makes this strategy rather ingenious and beneficial in the long-run.

It also combats negative presuppositions of undocumented immigrants and lends support to their cause. Negative criticisms of undocumented immigrants often include that they do not contribute to taxes, are unskilled, take jobs from American citizens and do not contribute positively to the U.S. economy.

All of these criticism are neatly refuted by these enterprising, self-employed undocumented immigrants who, among other things, sometimes create jobs for other Americans.

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Health Insurance Issues for Illegal Immigrants

The poor options for insurance for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. make it only more imperative that comprehensive immigration reform be passed for the sake of the states’ residents. Health insurance can be difficult for people in the United States and that only goes double for people who have questionable immigration status.

Even with the creation of the Affordable Care Act – commonly referred to by its nickname, Obamacare – undocumented immigrants in the United States are often excluded from the health insurance market.

Government aid exists to insure people who need it, but many undocumented immigrants are fearful that by applying for government aid they will make themselves vulnerable to deportation. Although Immigration and Customs Enforcement says that they do not use Medicaid or medicare information in their investigations, undocumented immigrants’ concerns are understandable.

There are several alternatives for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. for health insurance, but they come with their own issues.

Many undocumented immigrants might be able to apply for student health plans or insurance through their employers, but only in certain states that allow undocumented immigrants to go to higher education institutions or get jobs without immigration background checks.

California is one state that allows undocumented immigrants to go to their colleges and universities and even legally work jobs, but for many other states, this option is not so viable.

California also offers low cost health care through the state government and other states may offer the same, but not all states make this service available.

For many undocumented immigrants, the only viable option for health care insurance is through a private insurer, which is an expensive path.

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Unexpected Benefits of Obama’s Immigration Executive Actions

A central criticism of Barack Obama’s November executive orders for immigration reform is that they were not well thought-out and leave room for possibly detrimental interpretations.

That certainly seems true in terms of how taxes are being applied to deferred action recipients. The IRS announced in March that illegal immigrants with deferred action will be able to claim tax breaks retroactively for three years.

This means that deferred action recipients could, potentially, receive three years of tax returns in one fell swoop.

This would, of course, lay an unreasonable burden on the U.S. government, but that’s if it actually comes to fruition.

One fact that seems to be largely ignored is that just because someone can do something, they might not necessarily do it, even if it contributes positively to their economic utility.

For an illegal immigrant to claim the past three years of back-returns, they would somehow have to document their illegal work and file three separate returns.

Not only would finding proof of illegal work (which is normally not the most transparently documented thing) be very difficult, but filing these returns would create a paper trail that would might be used in a person’s immigration proceedings, perhaps even endangering any claims to immigration benefits.

It is probably true that the executive orders were not thoroughly examined, but this ignores their likely purpose.

In a mostly obstructionist government where President Obama’s plans are likely to be shot down in Congress, the president created these executive orders as a sort of protest.

They are supposed to serve as a catalyst to get real immigration reform through Congress. A Congress that instead of bemoaning a mistake that probably won’t have much of an impact should probably work on immigration reform bills.

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How Hard is it to Pass the Citizenship Test?

The U.S. citizenship test is much easier to pass than many people expect. It’s tempting for many people to assume that the citizenship test might be some sort of trick to exclude people, that it’s full of difficult questions, trick questions designed to reduce the number of citizens admitted to the U.S. every year.

But, in actuality, with the proper preparation and study, the test is not that difficult and does not set out to fail people.

It’s a relatively common joke in the United States that citizens in high school would mostly be unable to pass the U.S. citizenship test, but this is only a joke. It’s true that many people in the U.S. would probably not be able to get many of the questions right on the civics test, but that’s because they probably don’t care. They don’t have to care, they’re already citizens.

But people who apply to be citizens do care. This gives them a great advantage in that the questions on the test matter to them.

There are many online guides available that can help you pass the citizenship test and the questions are publicly available through the USCIS. By studying, you can be sure that you will pass the civics portion of the test.

The harder part for many applicants may be the language test, which also requires study for people who speak English as a secondary language. However, the USCIS is not going to require you to write an essay, they will only expect you to be able to converse simply in English and be able to read and write relatively simple sentences.

People often pass the English test as they answer questions from the USCIS officer and if you were able to read this blog, you are already prepared for the English part of the citizenship test.

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Tax Season for Green Card Holders

Tax season in the United States is the period of time between the first of the year and April 15 and is dreaded by residents for a variety of reasons. Some fear it because they know that they will have to pay the government, some because they have a hard time filling out the occasionally difficult forms, others simply balk at the inconvenience.

However, for the majority of people, tax season is routine and simple.

Tax returns are due from citizens, Green Card holders and some temporary residents on April 15 every year.

You can find the appropriate forms that you will need to fill out and submit on the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) website or you can use one of the many different tax assistance services offered throughout the country.

If your tax return is simple, you might be able to do it on your own using the government forms or an online assistance tool. If your taxes are more complex or you simply do not want to bother with doing the actual work associated with filing taxes, you can use an accountant.

Either way, it is of utmost importance that you do file your taxes. The consequences of not doing so are extremely unpleasant. Not only can you be audited, which means that the IRS will investigate you and potentially get their due taxes the hard way, but your permanent resident card might be jeopardized.

Green Card holders can be deported if they don’t pay their taxes.

So can temporary residents. Citizens can’t get deported for not paying taxes, but they can face serious fines and jail-time in federal prison.

The real lesson to learn here is that no matter how unpleasant filing one’s taxes may be it’s never going to be as unpleasant as the consequences of not paying one’s taxes.

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U.S. and Canada Cut Deal to Increase Efficiency at the Border

Immigration agencies on both sides of the border have cut a deal to allow for more preclearance activities to occur in the United States and Canada.

Preclearance is when custom officials inspect travelers for immigration, customs and agricultural purposes before they even leave for their destination. This would significantly speed up the process of travelling from the U.S. and Canada.

While this policy is already in effect to a certain degree in various Canadian cities, the Department of Homeland Security will have to present the agreement to Congress and have it passed to start on the new policy.

However, the fact that the agreement was signed by both the Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada is quite an achievement on its own.

“After years of hard work and negotiations, today we have one of the most significant, visible and anticipated products of the Beyond the Border initiative – A major achievement that will produce significant benefits for the United States and Canada,” Secretary Jeh Johnson of the DHS is reported to have said in a DHS press release on Monday.

The agreement, inconveniently named the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada, outlines a number of other actions the governments could undertake under the agreement. Examples include allowing customs officials to carry weapons to the same extent as customs officials in the host country and the exploration of potential co-locations of customs offices at more remote borders.

What does this mean in the short-term for travelers between Canada and the United States? Not much, but this agreement is sure to make travelling much easier in the future.

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H-1B Petitions to Be Accepted on April 1, 2015

The USCIS is to begin accepting applications for H-1B visas on April 1, 2015. Though there are 65,000 visas available through this program, it is well-known for its tendency to run out in a month or less.

H-1B visas are issued to foreign workers who are highly skilled or educated in a specific field such as engineering or computer science. These visas are known as being dual-intent, meaning that a person can come into the U.S. as a nonimmigrant with a H-1B visa and eventually apply for permanent residency.

Dual-intent is considered very unusual in the United States’ immigration system as most nonimmigrant applicants have to show that they will only remain in the U.S. for a temporary period of time in order to receive a visa in the first place.

Because of the high volume of registrants early on in the application period, the USCIS sometimes has to use a lottery system. If within the first five days of the application period, the USCIS receives enough applications, they will randomly select recipients of the visa. This means that the program is first-come-first-serve only up to a point. It is very important that applicants send their petitions in as soon as possible, but that does not guarantee a visa.

Applicants with master’s or doctoral degrees are given somewhat preferential treatment as the first 20,000 of these applicants are exempt from the overall 65,000 visa cap.

The H-1B visa program is probably the most popular work-related immigration visa program in the United States. Many employers help their employees get these visas as their skills are considered necessary in the United States.

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Will Obama’s Immigration Executive Orders Delay Asylum Applications?

Many asylum applicants in the United States have expressed their concerns about whether President Obama’s immigration reform executive orders will somehow negatively affect the timeliness of their own applications.

However, it is somewhat unlikely that it will impact the speed at which other applications are filed at all.

First of all, the applications that the executive orders were supposed to create have not been made available yet as a Texas court filed an injunction against them. Until the federal government files a stay or the ruling is overturned, the applications will not be available.

Secondly, the original DACA program, which was released in 2012 did not significantly impact the processing times of other applications, so it can be reasonably expected that there won’t be any great delay this time either.

Further, the USCIS hired almost 200 more asylum officers in 2015, which should further speed up the processing times.

Really, it seems that asylum applicants can expect their applications to be processed faster this year!

The USCIS is a government agency that gets more than 99% of its funding from the fees paid by applicants for immigration benefits.

This business-like model makes it better prepared to handle the sort of challenges that increased applications may pose. It is a more agile and adaptable organization than many other agencies in the United States government.

Asylum applicants who are concerned with when their applications will be processed should be sure to file early, file correctly and to take advantage of the provisions made for people waiting for their applications to be processed. For example, many applicants may be eligible for work authorization while their applications are being processed.

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Is the Injunction Against Obama’s Immigration Executive Orders Fair?

An immediate reaction that many immigration advocates may have regarding Judge Hanen’s injunction against President Obama’s November immigration executive orders may be that it’s unfair and intentionally obstructive.

However, this is the government’s process. The United States government is based on a system of checks and balances where one branch cannot make decisions without some sort of review.

In this case, the executive branch, headed by President Obama, tried to make a policy in how immigration is handled in the United States and it was challenged by the courts (the judicial branch).

The complaints against the executive orders stated that the administration had overstepped what it was allowed to do, that it’s actions were the responsibility of Congress and that the administration should let Congress make such decisions.

This point will be argued in court very soon. Though many people, including President Obama, believe that there was no overreach at all, it still must be examined to maintain a truly democratic society.

The suit that claimed that the executive orders were too much came from a total of 26 states, which is a majority of states in the Union. Surely, if more than half of the country wants to consider the legitimacy of a policy change, it should be considered.

Another complaint filed against the executive orders was a concern that Texas would suffer undue pressure from the institution of the new policies. Texan driver’s licenses are processed at a loss, so the addition of a large number of new people needing driver’s licenses (specifically recipients of DACA and DAPA) would generate a serious deficit in that state’s budget.

None of these events or complaints spell out the end of the executive orders, but it should be reassuring that the government of the United States is working to ensure that democracy is preserved for all.

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Immigration Important to Technological Growth

Opponents of immigration often cite the need to preserve the United States economy by blocking incoming immigrants, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that immigrants are what drive the U.S. economy.

The expanded availability of knowledge throughout the world has led more entrepreneuring souls in less developed countries to put together seriously competitive ideas.

One such example is the creation of 3D Robotics, of which Jordi Munoz is the Chief Technology Officer. Jordi is a Mexican immigrant to the United States without a college education – which are often used as a prerequisite for technology jobs in the united states – who developed his own remote control aircraft, often called drones, while waiting for his Green Card to Arrive.

For those who say that immigration is not necessary for innovation in the United States, Jordi’s story, as it was reported on BBC News, shouldn’t have happened. If there’s no need for immigration then an enterprising American should have filled that necessary space in the American economy.

But, they didn’t, or, they didn’t fast enough. And in a globalized economy, speed is a premium quality.

It’s probably pretty accurate that many undocumented immigrants do take up many low-skill jobs in the United States, but those aren’t the jobs that boost the economy, they support it.

Proponents of extra strict immigration rules to prevent illegal immigration are cutting off their noses to spite their faces, or more simply damaging their own interests in the name of those interests.

In the past, periods of history that saw large amounts of immigration (illegal or legal, doesn’t matter) also saw huge increases in economic strength, advanced technological advancements and greater times of prosperity. Perhaps the first step to changing how people see immigration is to stop using the term ‘illegal’ to describe so much of it because in a global economy every person is a citizen.

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