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  • Macaca
    05-09 05:49 PM
    Long-Prized Tech Visas Lose Cachet ( By MIRIAM JORDAN | Wall Street Journal

    A visa program designed to supply skilled foreign workers to companies in the U.S. has slowed sharply, attracting about 50% fewer petitions so far this year than last year, and 80% fewer than in 2009.

    Several factors have contributed to the decline in H-1B visas, including the lackluster pace of the U.S. recovery, more opportunities for skilled workers in their home nations and higher visa fees, which appear to have spurred Indian companies operating in the U.S. to seek fewer visas. Attacks on the program by congressional foes of U.S. immigration policies have also cast a shadow over it.

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told The Wall Street Journal this week that it received about 8,000 H-1B petitions from businesses in April, the first month the agency accepts them for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. That compares with 16,500 petitions in April 2010 and about 45,000 in April 2009, according to USCIS.

    "It's baffling that H-1Bs aren't picking up if the economy is stronger," said Steve Miller, a Seattle attorney who prepares petitions for employers in high tech, retail and other sectors.

    For years, the H-1B program was a mainstay for software companies, architecture firms and other businesses that seek foreign nationals to fill certain jobs. Demand for the visas by companies outstripped supply, and companies such as Microsoft Corp. lobbied the U.S. government to raise the cap on the number of visas.

    In 2008, employers snapped up all 65,000 visas allotted on the first day, April 1. But starting in 2009, after the financial crisis hit, the flow of applications has steadily diminished.

    The program, which enables foreigners to work in the U.S. for three to six years, was created as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 to help U.S. companies overcome a shortage of workers in specialty occupations, such as computer programming. Recently, the program has been attacked by lawmakers who say it displaces American workers and depresses wages.

    Supporters and opponents made their cases at a congressional hearing held March 31, the day before the federal government began accepting H-1B applications.

    At the House Subcommittee on Immigration, a critic of the program, Ronil Hira, highlighted that Indian companies operating in the U.S., such as Infosys, Tata and Wipro, are among the biggest H-1B users, and that they're bringing in foreigners with ordinary skills.

    In an interview, Mr. Hira, a professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology, said that "because of loopholes, employers can bring in cheaper foreign workers to substitute for American workers and undercut their wages."

    His research indicates only about a third of all H-1B visa holders are "really highly skilled or graduates of U.S. universities who would be eventually sponsored for green cards," or permanent U.S. residency, by their employers. Employers have said that the program enables them to tap top talent, whom they seek to hire permanently down the road.

    Supporters of the program, including high-tech firms and industry groups, say it attracts foreign talent that spawns innovation and creates jobs in the U.S. They cite former H-1B holders such as Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and Vinod Dham, an engineer behind Intel Corp.'s Pentium chip, as proof of its value.

    Vivek Wadhwa, a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley who studies immigrant entrepreneurs, said that an anti-immigrant climate had made it "a liability to hire H-1Bs," and that this will gradually chip away at U.S. global competitiveness, because the country has a dearth of homegrown engineers and scientists.

    Moreover, Mr. Wadhwa said that foreign nationals who obtain U.S. degrees were more likely than ever to return home. "Ten to 15 years ago, by default, you'd want to be in America, because you had more opportunities. Now, you can do much, much better at home," he said.

    In a survey of more than 250 Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs published last month, Mr. Wadhwa and co-researcher AnnaLee Saxenian, also of Berkeley, found that the majority of those who returned to their native countries believed they were faring better overall than they would have in the U.S.

    Nutan Kunduri, a software engineer who stayed in the U.S. on an H-1B visa after completing her studies, said she decided to accept a job offer in India less than a year into working in Silicon Valley.

    "Ten years back, I had this 'nothing will change in our country' attitude," she said. A recent visit to India made her realize that "for an IT professional like me, India is the place to be, with its booming tech industry."

    Abhinav Tripati, a software engineer with a U.S. company in Boston, also plans to return to India, where salaries are slightly lower but the cost of living is significantly cheaper. "I see my friends back home enjoying most of the comforts of Western life," he said, with the added bonus of being close to friends and aging parents. "We can't often bring our parents to the U.S., as it's getting difficult to obtain visas for them," he said.

    Some immigration attorneys believe companies are taking their time to file H-1B petitions because the 65,000 quota is unlikely to be exhausted soon. The cost and bureaucracy of applying is another deterrent. Last year, Congress passed a law that adds an additional fee of $2,000 for certain H-1B petitions that had cost $325. All told, lawyers' fees, filing fees and other expenses can reach $9,000 a applicant.

    "HR people are aware there's no rush on H-1Bs," said Julie Pearl, an immigration lawyer in San Francisco.

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  • sledge_hammer
    03-24 03:49 PM
    No, they figured out that it is consulting companies that are exploiting loopholes. Tell me what proof you have that ALL consulting companies are complying with H-1B requriements.

    Is benching that happens in consulting legal? Is paying salary according to prevailing wages in Maine and sending the contractor to work in Manhattan legal? Please tell me how these practises by desi consulting firms are legal.

    And you're telling me I am ignorant! You're funny :D

    All your assumptions about H1B is only for full time jobs is flawed. USCIS has not said that. There is no law that says that.

    BTW why do you think LCA requirements are meant only for consulting companies ? It is applicable to all H1B candidates. That has been the law for a long time. Nothing new here for you to be happy about.

    Your posts are driven by your ignorance than any legal base. You need to educate yourself in immigration perspective.

    Why USCIS audits are focused on consulting companies ?
    It is not because consulting is not allowed on H1B. It is because they figured out that H1B violation are more prominent among small companies.

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  • CreatedToday
    01-06 04:21 PM
    :confused:You don't believe this, but you believed when mullahs said, it was Israel and Jews behind 9/11! LOL

    If its true, why media is not showing how Hamas is hiding behind schools and mosques? Its a big lie and this is what they say in order to justify the killing. Also what rockets you are talking about? Those 7000 rockets that killed 4 people? I agree Hamas must stop their mindless and useless rocket attack.

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  • abcdgc
    12-27 12:27 AM
    So what in your opinion is the reason for the state and the government of Pakistan to provoke India, with the risk of starting a war with India that Pakistan cannot win, at a time when the economy is in a very very bad shape and there are multiple insurgencies and regular suicide attacks within Pakistan?

    You are from Pakistan, you tell why you are doing this. Why are you asking us to explain your actions?


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  • ohpdfeb2003
    06-27 11:11 AM

    Excellent points!


    You guys are still going by popular news article and media hype. You fail to understand the ground reality. I bought my house last year in a great school district. I used to pay $1,250 rent for a single bedroom condo of 800 sq ft. I could have as well flushed that money down the toilet. My house now is 1600 sq ft living area + completed basement + garage + deck, all for $2,500 (mortgage + insurance + tax). I'm in the 30% tax bracket and I know I'll get a huge tax benefit. My quality of life has been great with the addition of space in my dwelling.

    I'll have to reiterate - do not generalize your opinions. What's happening in Detriot is NOT happening everywhere!

    EDIT: The rent in my area for my home is of course not $2,500 but between $1,800 to $1,900. After tax deduction I'll be paying the same amount (or a tiny bit more) as a renter. If my home apprecites, I gain, if it doesn't, I DON'T lose anything. But I were a renter, my loss is guaranteed!

    Its not logical to think of rent as money flushed down the toilet. It is the money you pay for a service aka for a service that provides shelter without any maintanance involved.

    Is the money that you are paying as interest for mortgage money flushed down the toilet???:rolleyes:

    Taxdeduction is overrated, remember everyone gets a standard deduction, so even if you
    dont have mortgage you get a break.

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  • alterego
    10-03 04:03 PM
    Have you seen any other politician talk about the lengthy and expensive process of LEGAL immigrants? Obama has spoken about this in an interview. Now, I know here you will want to make the differential between EB and FB immigration and what he means. I am aware of this distinction, however never have I heard a single word from the Republican side about the grossly unfair situation of lengthy greencard backlogs. The fact is EB immigration will not be modified in a vacuum and the conservative republicans will always block any relief for us, no matter what.


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  • waitforgc1
    06-05 03:16 PM
    Does anyone know that the closing has to be before November 30th in order to get this 8K tax benefit?

    Thats Correct!

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  • Legal
    08-08 07:33 PM
    Sajan Chale Sasural : Computer professional coming to US.

    1942 a Love story : Sticking to one company for more than a year.

    Dil to Pagal Hai : Staying in India, dreaming of US.

    Sapnay : Green card.

    Sadma : Rejected H-1(B) Visa.

    Khalnayak : Bodyshoppers.

    Deewana Mastana : Project Manager - Team Leader.

    Beta : Home Phone bill exceeding $400pm.

    Rakhwala : Project Manager.

    Mr. Bechara : Computer professional in Singapore.

    Zanjeer : Company bond.

    Himmatwala : Breaking company bond.

    Tohfa : H-4 Visa for your Wife.

    Mawaali : Before coming to US.

    Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman : Once you are in US.:D

    Chaudhvin ka Chand : Assembly programmer.

    Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam : Client, your company and you.

    Shehanshah : Bill Gates.

    Admi Sadak Ka : Jumping from company to company.

    Dayawan : Company paying full salary in bench

    Anari : Year2000 programmer.

    Phool Aur Kaanten : Microsoft - IBM.

    Aaj Ka Gunda Raaj : Microsoft Monopoly in IT market.

    Maharaja : Doctors who came to US in 70's

    Hairaan : Non-Computer professionals on seeing computer professional's pay-check.
    Hum Aapke Hain Koun : Illegal Immigrants in US
    Aur Pyar Ho Gaya : After staying in US for a Year.
    Pardes : India after 2 Years.
    Daud : Coming to US.
    Rangeela : After getting Green Card.
    Bahaar Aane Tak : Time period between Green Card and Citizenship.
    Desh Premee : Going back to India for good
    Farz : Going to India every year.
    Pyaasa : Longing for a Visa.
    Agneepath : Going to Madras Consulate for getting a Visa.:p
    Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar : After coming from consulate with a Visa.
    Bud Naseeb : Not getting a Visa
    Himalaya Putra : Firmly asking for $70k from India
    Elan-E-Jung : Asking for increment
    Gupt : Agreement of Programmer with number of consultants
    . Zakmee : After getting rejected twice for a Visa.
    Swarg Se Sundar : on landing in US.
    Ab Kya Hoga? : Applied for Green Card too late.
    Jallad : INS People.
    Kranti : Increase H-1 quota.
    Main Khiladi Tu Anari : You and Immigration Officer.


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  • vinabath
    03-26 10:06 AM
    U should look more at Pre-forclosure ( if u can get hold of one) than the foreclosed properties. Most of forclosed properties need substantial investment to fix them. Generally public gets the last chance of good foreclosed properties. It is a bank- real estate nexus which eats up the good inventory before hitting into the market. US home auction is not a real auction but more like a open house for 100 properties at the same time. Quality of inventory is not worth it.

    Excellent point. If you friends with real estate investor, they might get you a deal. Its the same thing like used car sales. If you know the guy who does car auctions all the time you will get a nice car for real cheap. Same thing with houses too. Start looking for a good real estate investor. These people might charge some money for

    1. finding a good deal
    2. going thru auction/shortsale/whatever
    3. fixup the house
    4. help in financing
    5. their profit

    giving that money is worth the hassle.

    The most difficult part finding this person.

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  • gcisadawg
    12-31 04:55 PM
    Do you realize that
    a) Hitler did not export terror. He invaded and occupied countries. Non-state actors trying to kill Pakistanis, and Indians, and trying to start a war between India and Pakistan, are not the same as one country invading another.
    b) That was before the atomic bomb,


    Look, the Pakistani military/Govt. is not capable of dealing with these 'non-state' actors. Your logic that it is going to take several years to neutralize and India has to wait for that period to pass is simply dumb.
    Would you allow a thief to rob your own home over and over again? Depending on your logic, it looks like you wait for several thefts to pass before taking action against the thief.

    Looks like most of Pakistan doesn't want to grow up.



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  • kutra
    07-13 09:37 PM
    Disclaimer: I am an EB3-Indian with a PD of Oct 2003.

    Delax: I agree entirely with what you are saying. Your arguments are 100% valid. The part that I don't get is why are you trying so desperately hard to convince EB3-Indians that their letter campaign lacks merit?

    Remember, a drowning man will clutch on to a straw for hope. You are like a sailor in a boat trying to tell the drowning man that a straw is no good. So, if you cannot get Eb3-Indians to see your point-of-view, just lay off this thread. Do you really expect all EB3-Indians to say "Thanks to delax, we now see the folly of our arguments. Let's stop this irrational effort, and instead just do nothing!"

    I can assure you that despite being an EB3-Indian, I am not participating in this campaign. Because I know that it is a ridiculous argument to expect PD to take preference over skills. And honestly, I cannot come up with a single rational reason to demand a GC for me over any EB1 or EB2 applicant.

    To all you EB3-Indians, chisel this into your brain: The US immigration system wants EB1 first, then EB2 and then EB3. It doesn't matter what your qualifications are or what the profession is...what matters is in which employment-based category was your LC filed. If you think, you are skilled enough, then stop wasting time in arguing with EB2 folks. Use your skills to apply for EB1 (which is current) or EB2 and get your GC fast. Otherwise, get this chiselled into your head as well: You are less skilled than EB2 and EB1 (purely on the basis of the LC category), so it makes 100% sense that US will give you the lowest priority. Period.

    As I wrote earlier, I'm an EB3-Indian as well. Only differences being, I have still maintained my sanity, and I have the patience to wait for IV to deliver the official guidance on proceeding further.

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  • Ahimsa
    11-13 06:37 PM
    Just watched Lou Dobbs tonight.

    Lou tried his usual tactic of calling politicians "powerful".
    He said "Next guest is the most powerful chairman, likely chairman, of the ways and means committee in the senate, Charlie Rangel".

    Charlie rebutted immediately "I don't know what you mean by that. You can call powerful or whatever, but what we think will matter is how to get things done by working together..."

    Lou will never change his course...


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  • gveerab
    03-23 02:35 AM
    First sounded funny, then it made helluva sense.

    I suggest to go ahead and buy. I bought a townhome in California. I have been working here from last 8 yrs and thought enough is enough and bought the house.

    if you have plan to stay here for more than 5 yrs you should not wait.

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  • yibornindia
    08-05 12:11 PM
    I need to find out how many people are interested in pursuing this option, since the whole interfiling/PD porting business (based on a year 2000 memo) can seriously undermine the EB2 category.

    I am currently pursuing some initial draft plans with some legal representation, so that a sweeping case may be filed to end this unfair practice. We need to plug this EB3-to-EB2 loophole, if there is any chance to be had for filers who have originally been EB2.

    More than any other initiative, the removal of just this one unfair provision will greatly aid all original EB2 filers. Else, it can be clearly deduced that the massively backlogged EB3 filers will flock over to EB2 and backlog it by 8 years or more.

    I also want to make this issue an action item for all EB2 folks volunteering for IV activities.


    Hey Bro! Think of you this way.

    You are no different than those trying to move from EB3 to EB2. They are doing this to get GC faster then others.

    You are stopping others from entering in your line, to get GC faster. :p

    Ultimately you both are the same.


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  • thakurrajiv
    04-06 09:35 AM
    I think you missed my point. I was not trying to connect the ARM reset schedule with write-offs at wall street firms. Instead, I was trying to point out that there will be increased number of foreclosures as those ARMs reset over the next 36 months.

    The next phase of the logic is: increased foreclosures will lead to increased inventory, which leads to lower prices, which leads to still more foreclosures and "walk aways" (people -citizens- who just dont want to pay the high mortgages any more since it is way cheaper to rent). This leads to still lower prices. Prices will likely stabilize when it is cheaper to buy vs. rent. Right now that calculus is inverted. In many bubble areas (both coasts, at a minimum) you would pay significantly more to buy than to rent (2X or more per month with a conventional mortgage in some good areas).

    On the whole, I will debate only on financial and rational points. I am not going to question someone's emotional position on "homeownership." It is too complicated to extract someone out of their strongly held beliefs about how it is better to pay your own mortgage than someone elses, etc. All that is hubris that is ingrained from 5+ years of abnormally strong rising prices.

    Let us say that you have two kids, age 2 and 5. The 5 year old is entering kindergarten next fall. You decide to buy in a good school district this year. Since your main decision was based on school choice, let us say that your investment horizon is 16 years (the year your 2 year old will finish high school at age 18).

    Let us further assume that you will buy a house at the price of $600,000 in Bergen County, with 20% down ($120,000) this summer. The terms of the loan are 30 year fixed, 5.75% APR. This loan payment alone is $2800 per month. On top of that you will be paying at least 1.5% of value in property taxes, around $9,000 per year, or around $750 per month. Insurance will cost you around $1500 - $2000 per year, or another $150 or so per month. So your total committed payments will be around $3,700 per month.

    You will pay for yard work (unless you are a do-it-yourself-er), and maintenance, and through the nose for utilities because a big house costs big to heat and cool. (Summers are OK, but desis want their houses warm enough in the winter for a lungi or veshti:))

    Let us assume further that in Bergen county, you can rent something bigger and more comfortable than your 1200 sq ft apartment from a private party for around $2000. So your rental cost to house payment ratio is around 1.8X (3700/2000).

    Let us say further that the market drops 30% conservatively (will likely be more), from today through bottom in 4 years. Your $600k house will be worth 30% less, i.e. $420,000. Your loan will still be worth around $450k. If you needed to sell at this point in time, with 6% selling cost, you will need to bring cash to closing as a seller i.e., you are screwed. At escrow, you will need to pay off the loan of $450k, and pay 6% closing costs, which means you need to bring $450k+$25k-$420k = $55,000 to closing.

    So you stand to lose:

    1. Your down payment of $120k
    2. Your cash at closing if you sell in 4 years: $55k
    3. Rental differential: 48 months X (3700 - 2000) = $81k

    Total potential loss: $250,000!!!

    This is not a "nightmare scenario" but a very real one. It is happenning right now in many parts of the country, and is just now hitting the more populated areas of the two coasts. There is still more to come.

    My 2 cents for you guys, desi bhais, please do what you need to do, but keep your eyes open. This time the downturn is very different from the business-investment related downturn that followed the dot com bust earlier t his decade.
    Jung.lee very good second post from you. People still think it is very easy to keep on holding onto your home for long time till turn around happens.
    But life events can cause you to sell like
    1. Job loss and not able to find job in the same area till back up money runs out.
    2. Kids grow up and you need to pay for college and you have little saving as you are holding to see turn around
    3. Hope not but some medical emergency.

    There can be many more situations. Do you know what people are currently doing in these situation ?
    Get money from Home equity ATM machine !!

    Personally I will be scared to buy now as my payment will be more than 50% of my salary and any of above situations will cause me to sell.
    The prices have to become saner ....
    This is very different from anything we have seen. Wall street will change, money will be harder to come by.
    I think time to say " Welcome savings again ". Long term very good for US as country.

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  • Macaca
    04-17 08:40 AM
    To Conceal Donors, Some Political Groups Look to the Tax Code (, By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    An increasing number of organizations working to influence elections also are working to hide who is paying for their activities.

    Several political organizations colloquially known as 527s are relying more on or switching into 501(c)(4) groups, the type of tax-exempt entity that the tax code uses for advocacy groups.

    The 527s must disclose who gives them money; 501(c)(4)s do not have that requirement.

    The trend, which was discovered by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute, runs counter to one of the basic tenets of modern-day election law -- broad public disclosure. Voters generally have the right to know who is helping to elect their representatives and senators. Armed with such data, they can decide for themselves who, if anyone, is trying to buy their congressional representatives.

    A lot of political influence is at stake if such transformations proliferate. In last year's elections, 527s spent $143.2 million. The biggest outlays on the Democratic side came from the Service Employees International Union, Emily's List and America Votes, a coalition of liberal groups. On the Republican side, the big spenders were the Progress for America Voter Fund, the College Republican National Committee and the Presidential Coalition.

    There are many reasons that 527s might want to alter their stripes. The main one has nothing to do with concealment: The Federal Election Commission has been cracking down on 527s, insisting they cannot explicitly press for the election or the defeat of candidates.

    But in trying to sidestep the crackdown, several 527s have chosen an alternative structure that is harder for the public to track. Tax-exempt groups of various types have always been able to keep their donors anonymous (except to the Internal Revenue Service). The exception to this, made in 2000, is the type of electioneering funds called 527s, which have to publicly name their contributors.

    In recent years, one group that has leaned more heavily on its 501(c)(4) is Progress for America, once one of the largest GOP-leaning 527s. Another group is converting outright: the Club for Growth, which supports conservative, anti-tax candidates. According to a letter obtained by the Campaign Finance Institute, the club sees many benefits in its transformation, including secrecy. "Unlike in the past, your donations to the Club will not be disclosed to the public, except in very limited circumstances," wrote Patrick J. Toomey, the group's president.

    Some experts doubt that the Club for Growth will be widely imitated. An organization cannot simply change its label to a 501(c); it must also alter its function so that it no longer primarily works on elections. Last week, Public Citizen, the liberal gadfly, formally complained that Americans for Job Security should not be allowed to operate as a 501(c)(6), or trade association, because of its large-scale electoral involvement.

    Veil of Secrecy
    A sample of entities involved in politics that operate as 501(c), (4), (5) or (6) groups, which are tax-exempt and do not have to disclose their donors publicly.

    Organization and Examples of 2006 political activity

    AFL-CIO Spent about $40 million on its pro-Democratic political program.
    Americans for Job Security Ran an estimated $1.5 million in ads on behalf of then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).
    Chamber of Commerce Spent $10 million on ads thanking largely GOP incumbents for pro-business positions.
    Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund Spent $1.6 million on election-related activity, including voter education and mobilization.
    Focus on Family Action Sponsored radio ads in several competitive Senate races.
    League of Conservation Voters Spent more than $1 million on TV ads, mailings and other political outreach.
    NARAL Spent more than $740,000, mostly to rent voter lists for Internet communications.
    National Rifle Association Campaign war chest (excluding PAC funds) was reportedly $9 million.

    SOURCE: Campaign Finance Instititue


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  • santb1975
    10-01 01:41 AM
    I wonder how many $$$ GWB Sr. had to donate to Yale for GWB to get in ...I better stop my rant..:rolleyes:

    Just to clarify GWB is a Yale graduate.
    With a democratic controlled congress and Obama being a president, CIR is bound to happen. If high-skilled community doesn't unite and get our voices heard then we might come up empty. Remember the last time an immigration bill was passed by the Democratic president (AC21). They flashed few carrots (2-yr recapture, portability and H1 extension beyond 6 yr) and threw us under the bus with flood of 245i applicants. EB3 queue is still suffering from those backlogs.

    In the near term only democrats will be in a position to provide us with some relief because they control the congress.

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  • delax
    07-14 08:48 AM
    fine, then why are we working so hard to remove the per country limit? That was set by law too!!!

    We can't pick only those options that would favor us. Sometimes changes bring hard-luck.

    Sure sometimes change can bring hard-luck, but remember that if you want to change your luck at my expense purely based on your length of wait and regardless of skill level as established by law, then DON'T expect me to not push back. Another letter countering the position can always be written in an individual if not collective capacity.

    I also wonder where was all this thought about change and hard-luck when EB2-I was shafted last year and numbers spilt over to EB3ROW.

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  • grupak
    07-13 01:40 PM
    If you were hoping for overflow from EB3ROW, it would still have to pass through the gate of EB2I.
    Perhaps the person drafting the letter can explain their rationale on including this in the letter.

    First off, we are here to get our GC faster so the effort is commendable.

    However, I was also wondering about the old interpretation of the law. After the EB2-ROW numbers fall through to EB3-ROW and presumably make it current, the excess numbers go to EB2 China and India or does it go to EB3 China and India? Glad that someone else also caught this.

    07-14 10:43 AM
    Did you mentiopn like Phani_6 that your lawyer filed Eb3 on advice from DOL inspite of you qualifying for Eb2?

    I already mailed the Letter to Visa Section, DOS with a request to allocate some Visa Number to EB-3(India) to help to reduce the wait time. Did not mention about EB-2 or any other thing. Just a Request for EB-3 (India).

    05-15 06:05 PM
    Why Worry? It�s Good for You ( By ROBERT H. FRANK | New York Times

    THE late Amos Tversky, a Stanford psychologist and a founding father of behavioral economics, used to say, �My colleagues, they study artificial intelligence; me, I study natural stupidity.�

    In recent decades, behavioral economics has been the economics profession�s runaway growth area. Scholars in this field work largely at the intersection of economics and psychology, and much of their attention has focused on systematic biases in people�s judgments and decisions.

    They point out, for example, that people are particularly inept at predicting how changes in their life circumstances will affect their happiness. Even when the changes are huge � positive or negative � most people adapt much more quickly and completely than they expected.

    Such prediction errors, behavioral economists argue, often lead to faulty decisions. A celebrated example describes an assistant professor at a distinguished university who agonizes for years about whether he will be promoted. Ultimately, his department turns him down. As anticipated, he�s abjectly miserable � but only for a few months. The next year, he�s settled in a new position at a less selective university, and by all available measures is as happy as he�s ever been.

    The ostensible lesson is that if this professor had been acquainted with the relevant evidence, he�d have known that it didn�t make sense to fret about his promotion in the first place � that he would have been happier if he hadn�t. But that�s almost surely the wrong lesson, because failing to fret probably would have made him even less likely to get the promotion. And promotions often matter in ways that have little impact on day-to-day levels of happiness.

    Paradoxically, our prediction errors often lead us to choices that are wisest in hindsight. In such cases, evolutionary biology often provides a clearer guide than cognitive psychology for thinking about why people behave as they do.

    According to Charles Darwin, the motivational structures within the human brain were forged by natural selection over millions of years. In his framework, the brain has evolved not to make us happy, but to motivate actions that help push our DNA into the next round. Much of the time, in fact, the brain accomplishes that by making us unhappy. Anxiety, hunger, fatigue, loneliness, thirst, anger and fear spur action to meet the competitive challenges we face.

    As the late economist Tibor Scitovsky said in �The Joyless Economy,� pleasure is an inherently fleeting emotion, one we experience while escaping from emotionally aversive states. In other words, pleasure is the carrot that provokes us to extricate ourselves from such states, but it almost always fades quickly.

    The human brain was formed by relentless competition in the natural world, so it should be no surprise that we adapt quickly to changes in circumstances. Much of life, after all, is graded on the curve. Someone who remained permanently elated about her first promotion, for example, might find it hard to muster the drive to compete for her next one.

    Emotional pain is fleeting, too. Behavioral economists often note that while people who become physically paralyzed experience the expected emotional devastation immediately after their accidents, they generally bounce back surprisingly quickly. Within six months, many have a daily mix of moods similar to their pre-accident experience.

    This finding is often interpreted to mean that becoming physically disabled isn�t as bad as most people imagine it to be. The evidence, however, strongly argues otherwise. Many paraplegics, for instance, say they�d submit to a mobility-restoring operation even if its mortality risk were 50 percent.

    The point is that when misfortune befalls us, it�s not helpful to mope around endlessly. It�s far better, of course, to adapt as quickly as possible and to make the best of the new circumstances. And that�s roughly what a brain forged by the ruthless pressures of natural selection urges us to do.

    All of this brings us back to our decisions about how hard we should work � choices that have important implications for the lives we are able to lead.

    Most people would love to have a job with interesting, capable colleagues, a high level of autonomy and ample opportunities for creative expression. But only a limited number of such jobs are available � and it�s our fretting that can motivate us to get them.

    Within limits, worry about success causes students to study harder to gain admission to better universities. It makes assistant professors work harder to earn tenure. It leads film makers to strive harder to create the perfect scene, and songwriters to dig deeper for the most pleasing melody. In every domain, people who work harder are more likely to succeed professionally, more likely to make a difference.

    THE anxiety we feel about whether we�ll succeed is evolution�s way of motivating us. And the evidence is clear that most of us don�t look back on our efforts with regret, even if our daily mix of emotions ultimately doesn�t change.

    But evolutionary theory also counsels humility about personal good fortune. As Darwin saw clearly, individual and collective interests don�t always coincide. A good job is an inherently relative concept, and while the person who lands one benefits enormously, her lucky break means that some other equally deserving person didn�t get that job.

    When people work harder, income grows. But much of the spending that comes from extra income just raises the bar that defines adequate. So, from society�s perspective, some of the anxiety over who gets what jobs may be excessive after all. But that�s very different from saying that people shouldn�t worry about succeeding.

    Robert H. Frank is an economics professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

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