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Indians give flimsy excuse for US citizenship

A number of Indians are still citing the separatist violence in Punjab to plead their cases as refugees for gaining citizenship of the Unites States.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2006 14:48 IST

A number of Indians are still citing the separatist violence in Punjab to plead their cases as refugees to gain citizenship in the United States.

Revealing this at a seminar on 'NRI Investment, International Immigration and NRI Marriages' here on Friday, prominent US-based Indian American attorney Anu Peshawaria said this gives a bad image to India and spoils the chances of legitimate claims to US citizenship by Indians settled there.

"Even now they are talking about Punjab violence to get a US citizenship," Peshawaria said.

Peshawaria, who specialises in immigration issues, said such false claims are immediately detected by the US immigration authorities.

She said, contrary to popular belief, the US gives several opportunities for immigration with its large number of visa categories. But at the same time, it is important to keep abreast of the laws that are changed frequently to check immigration frauds, Peshawaria added.

"Six months ago, a new system called PERM came into effect, which is strictly enforced by the authorities," she said.

PERM or permanent labour certification is issued by the US's Department of Labor (DOL) and allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in that country.

In most instances, before the US employer can submit an immigration petition to the Department of Homeland Security's US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the employer must obtain an approved labour certification request from the DOL's Employment and Training Administration.

DOL must certify that there are no qualified able, willing, qualified and available US workers to accept the job at the prevailing wage for that occupation in the area of intended employment.

"Many Indians also do not understand the importance of the I-94 form that is attached to the passport once they land in the US," Peshawaria said.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services use the I-94 form to record the arrival and departure of foreigners in that country.

"You should understand the importance of this form for, if the authorities ask for it, and you are unable to produce it, then you are in trouble," she said.

Peshawaria, who runs a number of free workshops and seminars in the US for the benefit of Indians, also pointed out that ignorance of the laws there also results in financial loss for the immigrants.

"A lot of money is deducted from the income of Indians working in the US as social security tax. That money is supposed to help you after retirement as a form of pension," she said.

However, in most cases, she said, people don't claim that money or they don't even know that they can claim that money.

"Nobody even knows what has happened to all that money," she said.

She lamented the fact that in India, lawyers do not get to specialise on immigration laws as there is no such option being offered here.

Friday's seminar was organised by SevA, the legal aid wing of the India Vision Foundation (IVF), a non-profit organisation. Peshawaria founded SevA and is also the president of the US chapter of IVF.