Saturday, January 22, 2011

Employment Based Green Card Petition

 Dear insansapinas,

Two friends of mine were denied green card through employment-based petition. They were not suing because they knew and they did know that there is no guarantee for the petitions to be approved. Itong balitang ito, tumaas ang kilay ko ng isang pulgada.
(disclaimer: I am not an immigration specialist).

WOODSIDE,  NY – A Filipina who worked as an accounting consultant to a Filipino-owned staffing agency in New York is suing her employer.Jacqueline Aguirre claims she was subjected to forced labor, human trafficking and falsely promised a green card.
The Filipino-American Foundation for Immigration and Employment Advocacy is helping Aguirre sue Best Care Agency, Inc. and its owners Dorothy de Castro and Perlita Jordan in a Brooklyn Federal Court last which was filed on December 20.
The 36- year- old Aguirre said,  “Because of the two of you – De Castro and Jordan – I lost my legal status, I tried to fix everything, I paid for my own lawyer, thank God I was able to pay for the fees involved”
Aguirre came to the U.S. on a visitor’s visa in 2000. In 2001, Aguirre took an accountant position at a staffing company called Best Care Agency, Inc. in Floral Park, New York.
Aguirre said, she agreed to work for the agency because the owners allegedly promised  to sponsor her green card  after she paid them $3,000 as an initial “processing fee” among other immigration fees.
She got her work visa in April 2001. But when the company filed an immigrant petition for her in 2009, Court records showed that Best Care Agency was not financially capable to sponsor her green card application.
Civil Right lawyer, Attorney Felix Vinluan said, “The owners of the agency knew that they didn’t have the financial capability but they did misrepresent yung supposed financial capabilility nila kay Ms Jacqueline Aguirre para lang makapagtrabaho si Miss Aguirre sa Kanila who actually became a one woman office staffing agency for them.”
Court documents showed, from 2001 to 2009 Aguirre was only paid from $8 to $12 an hour instead of the promised rate of $19 to $22 per hour as written and agreed in her labor condition application.
Aguirre claims that aside from her original job as an accounting consultant she was required to perform other responsibilities such as staffing and other office work not related to accounting.
Aguirre said, the owners threatened her with withdrawing their sponsorship if she did not comply.
After Best Care Agency’s petition was denied, Aguirre said, her boss Perlita Jordan allegedly offered Aguirre to marry Jordan’s brother to save her from getting deported,  but only if she promised to pay her a big sum of money for the arranged marriage.
Aguirre said, “When I spoke to Perlita Jordan, she said, Jackie you should take care of my brother’s payment for your marriage, I said, I’m marrying an American Citizen who I’m not in love with, this is just going to worsen my situation, this is not the solution to my problem.”
Today, Aguirre is not only out of a job, she could also be deported.
Aguirre is seeking damages for human trafficking and $100,000 in back wages.

Balitang America has repeatedly called  Best Care Agency to get their response to Aguirre’s allegations, but owners Dorothy de Castro and Perlita Jordan have not yet responded.

1. The woman came to the US in a tourist visa and was given a work permit in 2001. At that time, the semi-amnesty of paying more than a thousand dollars to waive the process of going back to the Philippines to pick up the working visa (standard procedure) was enforced. The work permit was easy to process then. It is the green card petition which is "madugo.  Human trafficking? I do not know. 

Filipinos who I met in the US was able to have their former employer indicted of human trafficking because they were given visa in the Philippines  to work with certain positions related to their expertise and academic background but when they arrived in the US, they were shipped to another state to work in menial jobs in the restaurant. 

2. In filing for working visa, the employer should justify the employment of the alien by certifying that there is no one in the area who is more qualified than the applicant. Usually, it is the college degree which gives him/her the advantage over the locals. Another is the languages spoken especially if the target clients prefer to speak in their native tongue. Along with it is the salary scale for that position so as to ensure that the employee is not underpaid. The employer (especially Filipinos) and the employee could have already agreed of the rate. The employee would accept any amount as long as she gets the work permit.

3. The working visa is good only for three years, renewable for another three years. Within this period, the person should  change her immigration status. Otherwise, after six years, the person is already out of legal status.  One of the options is to look for the employer or other companies who are willing to sponsor the green card. 

The lady in the case received the work permit in 2001. The authorization to work has already expired in 2007. By this time, she is already out of status but why was the petition filed only in 2009? It could have been filed between 2001 and 2007 but the immigration process is very slow. In this period, advertisements in the newspapers for the said position is made. Whoever responds to the ad should be interviewed by the employer and state why they did not qualify. This whole process takes time. Once all the papers are in, the documents are submitted to the INS. The result may be denial or approval. There are instances when the employee is interviewed by the INS. If the petition is declined, the petitioner can  re-file. 

This business of financial capability of the sponsoring company is oftentimes, the reason for the denial of the petition. The lady claimed she is an accountant so she must have seen the financial statements of the company.

After there were so many companies which crop up just to sponsor applicants for work permits and green card ( these are different processes), the INS became stricter in evaluating the capability of the sponsoring firms.

I know of a nursing registry whose petition for a nurse was denied because the nature of the business is deployment of nurses on call. They were required to guarantee that the nurse who is going to be petitioned is given 40 work hours a week which they couldn't, given the number of nurses that they have to put to work. Besides their income statement bottomline is bleeding RED.

It is also a fact that many Filipino employers take advantage of the people who have problems with their immigration status. The employees  are subjected to abuse. They receive salaries which are not commensurate to their jobs. Some are even treated like they were extended househelps. I have a friend who served as errand girl for her boss even it was already beyond her work hours.  Tskkk tsssk

Then these employers  go home to the Philippines strutting like peacocks with expensive signature clothes and bags and shoes. Sone encouraged professionals to come to the US with tourist visa and promise them jobs when they can secure the non-immigrant visa. Why is the US Embassy very strict in granting this type of visa?


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