July 4-10, 2005
here are three principal ways to im-migrate to the United States. Theseare: 1) through a family relation-ship, 2) through employment, and 3)through investment. In all cases, the im-migration process requires a petition to befiled on the migrant’s behalf. The petitionis usually filed in the United Statesthrough the Immigration and Naturaliza-tion Service (INS) having jurisdiction overthe residence or employment area of thepetitioner. After the petition is approved,it is forwarded to the consulate or embassywhere the beneficiaries reside and wherethey will submit applications for their im-migrant visas. The visas will allow themto enter the United States for permanentresidence which will be evidenced by a“green card” issued by INS.There are numerical limits on the num-ber of immigrant visas that can be issuedin a single year. Priorities are based on thetype of visa. The applicant’s place of birthalso affects the process, as there are limitsto the number of visas that can be issuedper country. This means that in some visacategories there are waiting periods beforean immigrant visa can be issued. It is alsoworth pointing out that there are fees as-sociated filing the petition, for processingthe application, and for receipt of the im-migrant visa.
Family Sponsored Immigration
American citizens can file petitions on be-half of close family –parents, children (un-der age 21), spouses, siblings, and sons anddaughters (regardless of age). These peti-tions are filed at the Immigration andNaturalization Service (INS) in theUnited States having jurisdiction over theAmerican citizen petitioner’s residence.Once INS approves the petition, it willnotify the petitioner and forward the ap-proved petition through the State Depart-ment to the overseas post where the rela-tive resides.For spouses and fiancé(e)s of Ameri-can citizens, the process is the same; how-ever, if the American petitioner is in thePhilippines, it is possible to file the peti-tion for a spouse at the American Consu-late in Manila. Legal permanent residentsof the US, can file petitions for spouses andtheir children and unmarried sons anddaughters. They must file petitions in theUnited States through the INS. The ap-proved petitions will be forwarded throughthe Department of State to the Embassyor Consulate where the beneficiaries re-side.
Employment based Immigration
Based on job skills, professional expertiseand employment needs in the United States,a US employer can file an employment-based petition to bring workers and theirimmediate families permanently to theUnited States. The employer must file a pe-tition with the INS office having jurisdictionover the place of proposed employment. Inaddition to obtaining INS approval, certainemployment categories requires a certifica-tion by the Department of Labor that pre-vailing wages are met and that the local la-bor market in the US cannot fill the employ-ment need claimed in the petition. The pe-tition and the certification must be done inthe US. Once approved, the petition will beforwarded through the State Department tothe Embassy or Consulate where the benefi-ciaries reside.
Investment based Immigration
Investing in a business that creates em-ployment is another method of immigrat-ing to the US. Applicants for this visa mustinvest in a new commercial enterprisewhich will create full-time employment forat least 10 persons other than theinvestor’s spouse and children. The usualminimum investment is US$1 million, butmay be as low as US$500,000 if the in-vestment is in a rural or high unemploy-ment area. On the other hand, the re-quired amount can be higher if the invest-ment is made in an area of high employ-ment. A person wanting to immigrate byinvestment must file a petition with INSoffice in the US having jurisdiction overthe area where the new commercial enter-prise will be principally doing business.
Migrating to the USA
he National Statistics Office (NSO) es-timates that there are at least 3 mil-lion Filipino and Filipino-Americansliving and working in the United States. Infact, the US Embassy Manila in Manila is con-sistently among the 3 busiest consulatesworldwide in terms of immigrant visa issu-ance. The United States remains the pre-ferred immigrant destination of choice andmost Filipinos today find it easy to integratewith American society. Culturally, the Phil-ippines is the most “Americanized” countryin Asia – and maybe even the world. Unlikemost other minorities living in the US, Fili-pino Americans largely share mainstreamAmerican beliefs and values.The steady migration of Filipinos to theUS should continue going forward especiallyin view of the current shortage of health careworkers in the United States. The AmericanMedical Association has deemed medical andhealthcare education in the Philippines toequal the level of medical and healthcareeducation in the United States. It is easy forFilipino nationals to enter the Americanhealthcare workforce, inspiring them to settleand seek United States citizenship upon ar-rival. In fact with the shortage of Americannurses created in the 1980s, clinics and hos-pitals in the United States have been hiringdirectly from the Philippines offering substan-tial salaries – and immigrant visas.Life in America, however, is not all bliss.There is an issue over pay parity in non-healthcare professions in the United States.Filipino Americans architects and engineersare paid less than their Latino and AfricanAmerican counterparts. This is also true forthose working in the corporate environs andeducation. The discrimination is found to beworse among Filipino Americans seeking en-try-level positions and for those who join thehospitality industry. Even more dishearten-ing is the treatment Filipino War veteranshave received from the US government. Dur-ing World War II, over 200,000 Filipinosfought in defense of the United States againstthe Japanese in the Pacific theater of militaryoperations. More than half died. As a com-monwealth of the United States before andduring the war, Filipinos were legally Ameri-can nationals. With American nationality,Filipinos were promised all the benefits af-forded to those serving in the armed forces of the United States. In 1946, Congress passedthe Rescission Act which stripped Filipinosof the benefits they were promised. Of the 66countries allied with the United States dur-ing the war, only Filipinos were denied mili-tary benefits.Since the passage of the Rescission Act,Filipinos had migrated to the United Statesto lobby Congress for the benefits promisedto them in lieu of their sacrifices. Over 30,000of such veterans live in the United States to-day, most are United States citizens. Sociolo-gists introduced the phrase “Second ClassVeterans” to describe the plight of these Fili-pino Americans. Since 1993, numerous billswere introduced in Congress to return thebenefits taken away from the Filipino Ameri-can veterans. Each time, the bills died in com-mittee. The struggle continues today.Sociologists also refer to Filipino-Ameri-cans as an “invisible minority”. Unlike mi-grants from other countries who tend to formclose-knit neighborhood communities of theirown in the United States (eg. Chinatown),sociological field studies show that FilipinoAmericans however have a tendency to settlein a more dispersed fashion, settling down –or blending in - in communities across thecountry without a need for establishing tieswith other Filipino Americans in a locality.The label of “Invisible Minority” also extendsto the lack of political power and representa-tion of, by and for Filipino Americans. In the year 2000, only 100 Filipino Americans heldelected office. All except for one served at themunicipal or state legislative level.
Homepage for the US embassy in Manila, Philippines.
An official source of information about US visa policy and procedures. Use this site toget in-depth information of the visa application process, understand current require-ments, and get updates on recent developments.
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