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Why a Temporary Immigration Solution is Still Problematic for STEM Workers

November 21, 2014 Comments off

Why a Temporary Immigration Solution is Still Problematic for STEM Workers
Source: Brookings Institution

In 2007 and 2008 when immigration reform failed in Congress, President George W. Bush extended the one-year OPT to 29 months for foreign students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher in STEM fields. In June 2012, President Obama maintained Bush’s 29-month OPT term limit for STEM fields and increased the number of fields eligible for extension by an additional 90 fields.

Based on my research released earlier this year, about 38 percent of all foreign students on F-1 visas, or 362,500, were studying in the STEM fields during the 2008 to 2012 time period. This means that at least 72,500 graduates per year may benefit from this STEM OPT extension.

Yet, this temporary solution is problematic on several fronts.

+ First, it does not offer a direct pathway from earning a degree to permanent residency. If F-1 visa holders want to work beyond their OPT period, their employers must compete for H-1B visas for highly specialized workers. The current visa system still limits the number of H-1B visas to 85,000 for private employers per year, of which 20,000 are set aside for graduates of U.S. universities. While H-1B visas are an option for students, only 35 percent of H-1B visas in 2010 went to former F-1 visa holders, including those extended through OPT.

+ Second, if a foreign student’s employer is able to obtain an H-1B visa and then sponsors a green card application, the wait time for permanent residency can be more than 10 years due to per-country limits (each country can only get 7 percent of all green cards), a problem particularly for Indian and Chinese nationals—two of the largest foreign student populations. This executive action can potentially add more foreign workers into the green card pipeline, creating even longer wait times.

+ Third, there are no minimum wage or salary requirements for foreign student graduates under the OPT program. Unlike the H-1B visa that involves the Department of Labor in ensuring that foreign workers are paid a prevailing wage for their specific occupation, the OPT does not collect wage nor occupational data. OPT is missing these important protections since it was originally created as an educational program to provide a year of work experience, rather than used as an employment-based visa.

See also:
Obama’s Immigration Order Isn’t a Power Grab
Four Realities about Executive Actions; Moving Beyond the Rhetoric of Immigration Reform

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Map: How Many Americans Could Lose Subsidies If the Supreme Court Rules for the Plaintiffs in King vs. Burwell?

November 20, 2014 Comments off

Map: How Many Americans Could Lose Subsidies If the Supreme Court Rules for the Plaintiffs in King vs. Burwell?
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

This map based on Foundation analysis of Congressional Budget Office estimates of Marketplace enrollment provides a state-level breakdown of the number of Americans who in 2016 could be denied financial assistance to help pay insurance premiums for plans purchased in the Affordable Care Act’s federally operated insurance exchanges.

New From the GAO

November 20, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Individual Retirement Accounts: IRS Could Bolster Enforcement on Multimillion Dollar Accounts, but More Direction from Congress Is Needed. GAO-15-16, October 20.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-16
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666594.pdf

2. Veteran’s Disability Benefits: Improvements Could Further Enhance Quality Assurance Efforts. GAO-15-50, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-50
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667026.pdf

3. Consumer Product Safety Oversight: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Coordination and Increase Efficiencies and Effectiveness. GAO-15-52, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-52
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667040.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/666875

4. Intellectual Property: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Could Better Manage Its Process to Enforce Exclusion Orders. GAO-15-78, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-78
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667073.pdf

5. Freedom of Information Act: DHS Should Take Steps to Improve Cost Reporting and Eliminate Duplicate Processing. GAO-15-82, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-82
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667053.pdf

6. Defense Contractors: Additional Actions Needed to Facilitate the Use of DOD’s Inventory of Contracted Services. GAO-15-88, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-88
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667060.pdf

New From the GAO

November 19, 2014 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Labor Relations Activities: Actions Needed to Improve Tracking and Reporting of the Use and Cost of Official Time. GAO-15-9, October 23.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-9
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666618.pdf

2. Health Care Transparency: Actions Needed to Improve Cost and Quality Information for Consumers. GAO-15-11, October 20.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-11
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666571.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/666514

3. Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act: Additional Outreach and Notification of Tribes about Offenders Who Are Released from Prison Needed. GAO-15-23, November 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-23
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666974.pdf

4. Overseas Military Construction: Observations on U.S. Contractor Preference. GAO-15-45, November 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-45
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666981.pdf

5. Public Transportation: Multiple Factors Influence Extent of Transit-Oriented Development. GAO-15-70, November 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-70
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666993.pdf

6. Highway Projects: Many Federal and State Environmental Review Requirements Are Similar, and Little Duplication of Effort Occurs. GAO-15-71, November 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-71
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666989.pdf

7. Human Trafficking: Oversight of Contractors’ Use of Foreign Workers in High-Risk Environments Needs to Be Strengthened. GAO-15-102, November 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-102
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666997.pdf

Related Product

1. Sex Offender registration and Notification Act: Survey of Federally Recognized Tribes on Implementation of the Act (GAO-15-30SP, November 18, 2014), an E-supplement to GAO-15-23. GAO-15-30SP, November 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/gao-15-30sp

Testimony

1. Information Security: Additional Actions Needed to Address Vulnerabilities That Put VA Data at Risk, by Gregory C. Wilshusen, director, information security issues, before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-15-220T, November 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-220T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666969.pdf

New Report: The Criminalization of Food-Sharing Practices

November 19, 2014 Comments off

New Report: The Criminalization of Food-Sharing Practices
Source: National Coalition for the Homeless

On Tuesday, October 21, Fort Lauderdale Commissioners will vote on a proposed ordinance that will severely limit the capabilities of groups to distribute food to people experiencing homelessness. According to our research, over 30 American cities that have tried to introduce similar legislation in the past two years.

The new report, Share No More: The Criminalization of Efforts to Feed People In Need, documents the recent known cases of food-sharing restrictions throughout the country. Since January 2013, 21 cities have successfully restricted the practice of sharing food with people who are experiencing homelessness while at least ten others have introduced ordinances that are pending approval.

These restrictions primarily come about in three different forms; the first is by restricting the use of public property. In this scenario, individuals and organizations are generally required to obtain a permit, often for a fee, to share food in a park or in another public space. 12 cities have recently passed legislation that imposes this type of restriction.

The second type of legislative restriction is to require groups to comply with city/county/state food-safety regulations. Since January 2013, four cities have passed legislation that required individuals and organizations to comply with their food-safety regulations when sharing food with people experiencing homelessness.

USPS OIG — Guiding Principles for a New Universal Service Obligation

November 19, 2014 Comments off

Guiding Principles for a New Universal Service Obligation
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The U.S. Postal Service’s universal service obligation (USO), which establishes what mail services the Postal Service must provide, lacks a clear, comprehensive definition. The current USO is assumed to be a hodgepodge of various legal requirements and regulations that, in most cases, provide only broad guidance. For example, while public access to postal services is an important component of USO, there are no specifics about how many access points such as mail collection boxes or post offices must exist.

Add in the disruptive and transformative effects of digital communications, which have cut into mail volumes, and it’s clear that the Postal Service USO needs addressing: What exact services do policy makers and the American public – senders as well as receivers – now need the Postal Service to provide?

Our white paper, Guiding Principles for a New Universal Service Obligation,says that now is the appropriate time to update and clarify the USO. We used lessons learned from existing literature, input from experts, and its own knowledge of the Postal Service to develop six guiding principles, which are intended to help filter the plethora of information and stakeholder input to frame substantive discussion and debate on a new USO.

Read Full Report

NCJRS — Special Feature: Fraud Awareness

November 19, 2014 Comments off

Special Feature: Fraud Awareness
Source: National Criminal Justice Reference Service

A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three). Additionally, today’s fraud schemes are more sophisticated than ever (White Collar Crime, Federal Bureau of Investigation, retrieved October 2014).

Results of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) survey of fraud in the United States during 2011 showed that an estimated 25.6 million adults – 10.8 percent of the adult population – were victims of fraud. Most consumers bought fraudulent items via the Internet with telephone purchases ranking second (Consumer Fraud in the United States, 2011: The Third FTC Survey, Federal Trade Commission, April 2013).

In an effort to educate businesses and the public about the impact of fraud, as well as to promote basic steps that can be taken to recognize, report, and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of fraudulent activities, NCJRS presents this online compilation of resources addressing the topic.

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