Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blindness is less of a barrier for Puerto Rican Trevecca grad than bureaucracy is for Venezuelan Owen grad

The Tennessean reported here on the graduation of Puerto Rican Jessica Smith from Trevecca University. Smith is blind and has worked part-time as a Spanish translator in Nashville. She has plans to start a family and return to graduate school. As a Puerto Rican, Smith is a U.S. citizen and has no immigration bureaucracy to navigate.

The Tennessean also reported here on the graduation of Venezuelan student Luis Pacheco from Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management and the prospect that he will not be able to legally remain in the United States, despite the fact that he is well educated and has applied through the proper channels.

"The H-1B visa program is designed to give foreign workers an opportunity to work in the United States for up to six years in their field of expertise. The visas are awarded to 65,000 new foreign-born workers by lottery each year. This total is known as the 'cap.' An additional 20,000 visas are reserved for those with master's degrees or higher."

"This year, the capped H-1B visa program began accepting applications on its traditional April 1 start date. U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Service, the agency that processes the applications, had received 'well in excess of 120,000 petitions,' and on April 2 it officially closed the lottery, Christopher Bentley, an agency spokesman, said."

"Last year, applications were accepted until May 26; in 2005, applications were accepted until Aug. 10."

"Pacheco said's attorney told him that the H-1B visa petition submitted on his behalf arrived by the April 2 cutoff. But in the six weeks that have followed, neither Pacheco nor Amazon has received a lottery decision. It is unclear whether Amazon will hire him if he can work only one year."

"'Obviously, the main point of doing the MBA is finding a job,' Pacheco said, 'When you come here you know this process is going to be hard. But I had no idea this year would be like this.'"

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