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Foreign entrepreneurs try to gain foothold in U.S.

Seeking risks and rewards in the valley, techies navigate labyrinthine immigration law

In HBO's new series "Silicon Valley," filmed in and around Palo Alto, a group of techies live, work and breathe their next-big-thing venture in an incubator/house, navigating the unpredictable ups and downs of trying to succeed in the 21st century's land of opportunity.

In real life, a small, sun-filled house in downtown Palo Alto mirrors this fictional house, except its sole purpose is to incubate companies launched by foreign entrepreneurs. These aspiring innovators are not only taking on the risks and rewards of starting their own companies, they are simultaneously navigating the federal government's nerve-wracking and labyrinthine immigration processes in order to permanently -- and legally -- live and work in the U.S.

Phil Buckendorf, a blonde, slight 23-year-old from Germany, is one of the house's entrepreneurial hopefuls. He's currently here on a business-visitor visa that allows him a six-month stay, he explained on a recent afternoon while sitting in the living room of the one-story Waverley Street home.

The bungalow is owned by Blackbox, a local company that hosts non-U.S. startup founders for an intensive two-week crash course in all-things-Silicon Valley and then selects a few to accelerate.

Because the startup members, like Buckendorf, come to Palo Alto on short-term business-visitor visas, they must find their own way to stay for the long haul.

Buckendorf and many other foreign entrepreneurs say living with the limited status and sometimes nonsensical requirements imposed by immigration law doesn't necessarily hold them back, but rather takes up precious time, energy and money they'd rather be spending on innovating and creating their companies.

Under his current immigration status, Buckendorf can legally raise funds, acquire customers and talk to merchants.

"But the moment I sit at the computer and I do one line of design in Photoshop, it's considered work, and it wouldn't be 100 percent legal," he said.

He does not pay himself a salary.

Buckendorf is in the process of applying for an E-2 visa, which is granted to immigrants from countries the U.S. has treaties with and would give him two more years in the valley.

Julia Krysztofiak, a Polish business developer with a trace of an accent, came to Palo Alto three years ago when her husband got a job offer he couldn't refuse from Google. She originally joined the Blackbox team to help develop some of its programs.

"After meeting so many foreign entrepreneurs, I got inspired," she said. "I said, 'Well, actually, I would rather be on the other side and have my own company.'"

So she launched her own niche startup, selling custom- and rare-sized bras from Poland, which she said is disrupting the industry in its own way, much like other more conventional valley startups.

The only problem for Krysztofiak, a coder who spent her entire career in Poland working at startups, is that she's here on an H-4 visa. That allows her to stay in the United States but not to work here. H-4s are issued to the spouse and young children of holders of H-1B visas.

"It was kind of hard for me when I moved here," she said. "It's hard for the H-1B wives. They have to quit their career back home."

Though they can't work, H-4 visa holders can own companies, so Krysztofiak's startup is legal -- she just can't be named CEO (her sister holds the title).

Buckendorf's and Krysztofiak's situations are not unusual; in fact, dealing with the limitations imposed by U.S. immigration law has become an inherent part of the valley experience for a vast majority of the tech industry, from immigrants hoping to start their own companies to the tech companies, large and small, who want to hire them.

The challenges have become so pressing that many of the industry's most visible, powerful leaders -- Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft's Bill Gates, Google's Sergey Brin -- are clamoring for Washington, D.C., to implement comprehensive immigration reform. They're spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress to issue more visas to meet the demand for specialty jobs such as engineering and computer programming and to adopt a proposed visa category that's geared specifically to immigrant entrepreneurs who have raised capital from American investors.

In-house immigration legal teams have also become the norm at larger tech companies in Silicon Valley, with an increasing amount of money and time spent on processing visa applications each year.

With those in the industry charging that the federal government's immigration system has failed to keep up with the realities of Silicon Valley's enormous economic potential and international allure, they paint a picture of a clash of worlds that increasingly demands, but is not yet receiving, reform.

The golden ticket: the H-1B visa

The most common path for immigrant tech workers -- and the most nationally debated visa -- is the H-1B, a temporary visa that allows employment of foreigners in specialty occupations like engineering or computer programming. Its purpose, in theory, is to bring highly skilled foreigners to America to work in fields where hires are in short supply, such as information technology (IT).

Every April, the government grants 85,000 H-1B visas, allowing recipients six years in the United States -- a much longer stay than most temporary worker visas. The 85,000 cap, which is a controversial limit for those in the valley, includes 65,000 for international workers in professional or specialty occupations and an additional 20,000 for those with master's degrees from U.S. institutions.

The visas are issued through a random, computer-generated lottery until the cap is met. This year, it took less than a week, with about 172,500 applications received, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

For many Silicon Valley hopefuls, the H-1B is the golden ticket to securing a permanent life in the United States. But this visa's process and requirements are complex, making it an unattractive option for those who want to create their own companies.

An Israeli woman, Alex, who requested anonymity in this article due to her in-flux immigration status, came to the United States in 2012 with an H-1B sponsored by her employer, a large international corporation. She, like many other foreign entrepreneurs, hoped that once in Silicon Valley, she could find the means to leave the company to pursue her own tech ventures.

With her significant other, Alex found and rented an apartment in Palo Alto. She soon decided that she was ready to take the plunge and start her own company, but without an employer to back her H1-B (a requirement specific to this visa), she would lose her immigration status. As a placeholder, she got a job at a local startup, but she said things fell apart after conflict arose, unrelated to her, between the founders.

"I was without a job. That's a very stressful situation," she said. "The fact is, the moment you're out of a job, you're out of status. So you need to leave the country right away."

Instead of looking for a new job, she had to go to Mexico and return as a tourist. She hired an immigration attorney to help explain what her options to stay in the country might be.

"All of those things have costs," she said. "It's not just 'leave and come back'; it's all these considerations. I got an apartment; my lease is for a year. What should I do? Should I give notice? I don't know if I'm going to be able to come back; I don't know if I'll get a new employer. It really leaves me in the air."

Karlygash Burkitbayeva, a Stanford Business School graduate from Kazakhstan, co-founded a sunglasses company with another alumnus in 2011. Though she had a year of breathing room granted by an Optional Training Visa, a year-long extension for foreign students who want to work in the same field that they studied, she was well-aware of the consequences looming when that year ended. She applied for an H-1B very early -- at the same time her company was founded and got its initial investment.

"There was a point at which it was either going to be yes or no from USCIS, and if it were no, I would have had to leave the country within 15 days," she said.

With her own company sponsoring her application, the process became more complex. The government requires H-1B sponsors to prove they can pay the prevailing wage, or the wage that's paid to similar positions in the geographic area, when hiring a foreign worker, so as to not "adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers comparably employed," according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

"We had to declare myself as a supply team manager, which I still am apparently, because I had to qualify for the prevailing wage," Burkitbayeva said at an immigration-entrepreneurs event in March.

For a fledgling startup, raising enough money to pay its own founder or new hires the prevailing wage can be challenging and also forces still-maturing companies to raise money earlier than usual, some founders said.

Another problematic requirement is that all H-1B recipients are qualified for not the current, but the next fiscal year, meaning they have to wait until Oct. 1 to legally start working. This makes things difficult not only for the recipients but also the companies who want to hire them. Some small startups who cannot afford the price or length of time the H-1B takes resort to hiring solely from countries with easier visa processes. (Canada is a popular choice; under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canadian citizens can easily obtain a visa that allows them to work for up to three years full- or part-time for a U.S. company.)

The cap on the number of H-1B's issued each year is also hotly debated in the tech arena, with tech powerhouses lampooning the use of a random lottery to hire highly skilled people and continually lobbying the government to raise the cap.

Though the number of applications does ebb and flow with the economy, the cap has been met every year since 2004. In 2008 (for fiscal year 2009), it was reached within one week, with 246,647 applications filed, according to USCIS data.

"It's all around kind of frustrating," said immigration lawyer Helga Carson of Palo Alto-based Rose Carson Kaplan Choi & White. "There's talk about helping entrepreneurs come in, but (the government) really hasn't changed the visa processes, and they really haven't made it that much easier. They're sort of speaking out of their tongue and really not paving the way for these people to come in -- and these are the people that are generating all kinds of activity in our economy."

Carson added that the application process has become more laborious for immigration attorneys, with more documentation required today than in the past.

"The problem is two-fold: (1) The laws have not kept up with today's business realities, thus forcing attorneys to try to apply old visa categories to new business realities, and (2) The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is taking an ever more restrictive reading of the laws (that I don't think follows true Congressional intent), and not providing clear direction with regard to its interpretations," Carson wrote in an email. "The latter results in attorneys having to guess what DHS wants, and to over-document cases."

Carson said her firm used to file H-1B cases that weighed about half a pound in paper; now, the average weight for an H-1B filing is about 4 to 6 pounds, she said.

She attributes the government's increasingly restrictive enforcement of immigration law mainly to 9/11.

"That's been compounded by the recession we had in 2008," she added. "It really became all about jobs and the drum beat of, 'Let's keep jobs for U.S. workers' and 'Every foreign national is taking a job from a U.S. worker,' which is absolutely not the case -- which we know in Silicon Valley, but there a lot of places in the country that don't have the same industry and infrastructure that we do here."

An alphabet soup of visas

The struggle of doing business here as a non-U.S. citizen is defined by various visa codes that have become common jargon for immigrants in the valley.

Many start as international students on the easy-to-obtain F (for attending a private elementary school, high school, college or university) or J-1 (research) visas. F visas last as long as the recipient is connected to a U.S. academic institution in some way; J-1's have an expiration date of three years.

Tony Lai, an Oxford University graduate from England, came to Palo Alto on an F visa in 2010 to get a master's in law, science and technology at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

After graduating, he took advantage of the OPT visa, which offers an in-between resting point between the ease of student visas and the thorny reality of opting for longer-term immigration status.

During Lai's OPT year, he worked at StartX, a nonprofit tech accelerator that supports Stanford entrepreneurs starting their own companies. This time gave him the necessary breathing room to develop his own company, LawGives, an online platform that aims to streamline the legal process for foreign entrepreneurs, connecting them with local immigration lawyers for free and providing support along the way.

Luckily for Lai, Stanford considered LawGives research, allowing him to transition to a J-1 visa and have three more years in the country.

"To tell you the truth, having Stanford's go ahead -- it's a huge weight off our shoulders," Lai said of himself and his co-founder, a technology lawyer from Belgium who also studied law at Stanford. "We've built a team here; we've built a home here with friends and communities; and what we're building here, we plan to roll out here. We want to have a big impact on the legal system here in the states before we go out and spread this around the world.

"Having the weight of the worry and stress around getting deported or not having an easy way to stay here -- that stress surreptitiously weighs on you in a sense."

As Lai's J-1 visa expiration date approaches next year, he's planning to go for an O-1 visa, one of the more difficult and expensive visa options.

"Colloquially known as the 'rockstar' visa," Lai said, the O-1 is for foreigners who are able to demonstrate outstanding ability and accomplishment in science, arts, education, business or athletics. It's a notoriously complex visa that requires mountains of paperwork but is ideal for the entrepreneurial freedom it provides, Lai said.

Unlike the H1-B, the O-1 visa does not tie the applicant to any employer or sponsor, and it does not include requirements like paying the recipient the prevailing wage.

"Frankly, we would rather not pay ourselves anything close to the prevailing wage as we build this," Lai said. "Every dollar counts. If you can use that dollar towards building the company rather than paying yourself, that's always going to be better."

O-1 applicants must prove themselves as "extraordinary" to the government through publications, research, letters of recommendation, press coverage, conference attendances or presentations and the like. (Another option is if applicants have won a major, internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize.) The visa lasts for three years, but provisions allow for extensions, as long as the holder can continue to prove that he or she is still outstanding in his or her field.

"(The O-1) is pretty difficult to use for a lot of the young people who are out there starting companies because they don't have long track records, and I'm sure a lot of them are extraordinary, but the government is looking for documents like awards and presentations and those kind of things," immigration lawyer Carson said. "It doesn't necessarily work that well for people coming out of school and starting companies."

A Stanford University post-doctorate graduate from Germany who, facing the end of his J-1 research visa, recently applied for an O-1, came to an interview on a recent afternoon with his O-1 documentation in tow -- a stack of papers about a foot high. He requested to remain anonymous in this article as he's still in the midst of the immigration process.

"I mean you can start a company (on a J-1), but you're not able to work for the company, right? So you can do all the side work, which is fine, but ... this is a problem because we're raising money right now, so people ask, 'What's your status?' And if you say, 'Oh, I have no idea,' they will back up because they don't want to have that. It really limits you from starting a business, even (from) finding work here."

After spending five months and close to $8,000, getting rejected once, reapplying and putting his plans to start his company on hold, he finally received the coveted O-1.

"Now I'm on the other side because I got my visa approved, but it was a five-month process where my co-founders were like, 'What happens if you don't get the visa? What are we going to do then?'"

"It's highly limiting," he said of immigration processes. "I understand why there are some caps and why there are some visa safety issues, but I think it blocks a lot of high-potential people from coming to the states and growing the economy. In German, they'd say they're 'shooting their own leg.'"

Many top Silicon Valley companies owe their origins to high-potential foreign-born entrepreneurs: Google co-founder Sergey Brin is from Russia; Intel's Andrew Grove is from Hungary; Jerry Yang, who co-founded Yahoo with a fellow Stanford graduate student, hails from Taiwan.

An oft-cited report published by The Partnership for a New American Economy in May 2012 pegs the amount of American Fortune 500 companies founded by an immigrant or child of an immigrant at more than 40 percent. The report also found that 75 percent of companies funded by American venture capital had "one core foreign born team member such as CEO, CTO or VP of Engineering."

These numbers speak to the spirit of Silicon Valley -- that regardless of what's handed down from Capitol Hill, immigrants are determined to come here to dream big.

"The people you see coming to Silicon Valley, they're usually people that have some intelligence. ... They'll figure out a way to hack the system," Buckendorf of Blackbox said. "To come from another country, to come here to start a business, you have to be a little bit crazy, right? So immigration is not going to hold you back. If you have the motivation to do that, then you will find a way around immigration."

Tony Lai echoed Buckendorf's sentiments, saying if he for some reason lost his immigration status and had to leave, he would make his career work -- but it wouldn't be the same.

"This is a mecca for me and the things that I want to do," he said.

"It's almost so aligned and fundamental to that aspirational part of immigration, which is to pursue your dreams," he added. "Every single immigrant is always moving because they dream of something better. They dream of going to a better place where they can have the opportunities to be able to make something of themselves in a way they couldn't possibly imagine where they were.

"I think that dream is at the core of the American Dream, and I think at the core of this Silicon Valley dream."

TALK ABOUT IT

What experiences have you or your co-workers had with the immigration system? What do you think about the movement by tech leaders to change visa regulations and immigration law? Share your opinion on Town Square, the community discussion forum at www.PaloAltoOnline.com.

Read related stories:

Would-be entrepreneurs turn to lawyers for help

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2014 at 10:36 am

[Portion removed.]

Germany is the richest country in Europe. It has been able to nearly end Western democracy twice in the 20th Century—and we Americans are supposed to open our doors to "entrepreneurs" who have little to offer the US other than another cell phone App?

Software, and microelectronics, have opened the door to virtually anyone in the world interested in coding up some sort of program, or the other. But does being about to code up some silly game constitute the basis for instant citizenship status? Hardly!

One can only wonder how many different entities promoting instant citizenship (or something similar) for their clients. It would be really interesting to know how much money is changing hands here—trying to get these people who clearly don't seem to be able to make it in their own countries—into the US.

What's really sad is that the US has about 47% of its population on food stamps, and we have seen a half-century of deindustrialization—with American industries moving offshore—and the Weekly still doesn't get it. What's to keep these people, or people like them, from moving the software industry off-shore too?

Got to wonder if the Weekly would cheer such a course of events, or if even the Weekly would wake up and smell the loss of our national assets.

With millions of people out of work here in the US, what can the Weekly be thinking taking a position like this one? Or will we see the Weekly call for more food stamps in coming editorials?
----


 +   Like this comment
Posted by old time planter
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Apr 25, 2014 at 11:18 am

"at us stupid Americans."

Well, if you believe that "the US has about 47% of its population on food stamps" you may have one small sector of the population properly labeled. You can probably ascertain where I currently place you.

Solution to the article - fund education in the Bay Area: pre-K through public high schools, community college and beyond. Otherwise, lose the business edge. Do not increase visas. America first.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2014 at 11:50 am

Let's correct the record, shall we ..

Census: 49% of Americans Get Gov't Benefits; 82M in Households on Medicaid:
Web Link


Why are 47M Americans on Food Stamps?
Web Link

Thanks to the previous poster for calling into question the 47% on food stamps. It would appear to be closer to about 15%-18%. The percent of Americans receiving government benefits is almost 50%, and will doubtless increase in the future.

Got to wonder why Americans no longer want to work? Got to wonder just how many can be placed on government benefit programs before the system collapses.

Sorry about the mistaken detail in the previous posting, but the sentiment stands.
---


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Posted by old time planter
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Apr 25, 2014 at 12:29 pm


Exxon and big oil get millions/billions of corporate welfare benefits.

Federal freeloader Cliven Bundy, the deadbeat rancher gets federal corporate welfare, and then refuses to pay the ridiculous, artificailly low fees for grazing..

My parents get Social Security, and Medicare.

Let's toss all these losers off the guv'mint dole.

"Got to wonder why Americans no longer want to work?" What a ridiculous frame. When's the last time Congress addressed creating jobs to overcome the Great Recession, instead of symbolic repeal votes? (over 80 useless repeal votes on the ACA and abortion.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I question the 47% on government benefits figure. But -- whatever the true % it, government benefits is a broad category.

Please note that "government benefits" also includes Social Security, Disability, Veteran's benefits, School lunch programs, Medicare, Medicaid, as well as Public Assistance --- and many other programs. It is NOT a matter of scoundrels and lazy people stealing undeserved benefits.

While some people cheat, it is NOT the majority. There is actual need. America has a heart.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm

People keep picking at Social Security and Medicare. That is the FICA that has been deducted out of your paycheck - and matched by your employer. You also have other deductions - SDI, ETC. Corporations that work Government Defense efforts sign up for the most stringent set of requirements regarding every government welfare program out there that supports Equal opportunity, etc. They also contribute to their communities by supporting programs like Second Harvest Foodbank, etc.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Huh? Those quotes aren't mine -- I'm meticulous at using just my one identity. My multi-click explanation was a discovery months ago, and I thought I was doing a service to describe the problem, though I realize references to deleted comments are usually themselves deleted. Maybe the first commenter will respond.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stanford
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 25, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Some of the comments here are quite appalling. I know many foreign entrepreneurs who are employing US citizens, which can only benefit the local economy. I hope we continue to be able to attract the best and the brightest from all around the world, without falling into the trap of short-sighted protectionism.

For those foreign entrepreneurs who do take the step, I also want to add that I've loved using LawGives. I highly recommend it for connecting to immigration lawyers. I got quick responses and was quoted fixed fees for my issue.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PA
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 25, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Well, one thing is for sure, the show Silicon Valley is hilarious. It is so spot on, just thinking about past shows
makes me smile!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2014 at 3:11 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Looky Here
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 25, 2014 at 3:24 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Looky there
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm

@lookyhere you got to be kidding me. This is a nation of immigrants. The amount of ignorance in your comments is astonishing. Someone who claims to live in Professorville should know better than making broad generalizations like that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Entrepreneur
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 25, 2014 at 3:39 pm

I am an entrepreneur who moved here in 2003 and had my share of visa challenges at the time.

My company now employs more than a dozen Americans and pays plenty in taxes. Our nearest competitors are in Europe - we have none in the US. My immigration to this country created significant and meaningful value for the US economy that would not have existed otherwise and withdrew *nothing* from it.

Encouraging entrepreneurs to settle in the US makes enormous social and economic sense for the country. I get it, xenophobia exists wherever there are people but, please, try and open your mind to see what good thousands of the most talented folks on the planet are bringing to the country when they choose to come here to start their companies.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ronnie Raygun
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 25, 2014 at 4:43 pm

"we are discussing giving amnesty to 16-18 million illegal aliens?"

A bald faced lie.

How many did Ronnie Reagan amnesty?

Why did both Bush and McCain support the immigration bill?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 25, 2014 at 6:12 pm

The 1986 amnesty was 3 million, and sources that would tend to put out low numbers, like the NY Times, say this amnesty would be 11 million.

Web Link

But it is stupid to conflate that with tech entrepreneurs, who are job creators.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by lgjhere
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2014 at 5:18 am

Let's face it, this immigration thing is a 20th century issue that has slopped over into the 21st century. The time has come to finally resolve it in an intelligent fashion, as three-fourths of Americans favor and Obama confronts head-on. A new award-winning worldwide book/ebook that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More." It paints a revealing picture of America for anyone who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also informs those who want to learn more about the last remaining superpower and how we compare to other nations on many issues.
As the book points out, immigrants and minorities are a major force in America. Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation's population growth and own 11 percent of US businesses and are 60 percent more likely to start a new business than native-born Americans. They represent 17 percent of all new business owners (in some states more than 30 percent). Foreign-born business owners generate nearly one-quarter of all business income in California and nearly one-fifth in New York, Florida, and New Jersey. In fact, forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant, creating 10 million jobs and seven out of ten top brands in our country.
More importantly, they come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon, as did the author's grandparents when they landed at Ellis Island in 1899 after losing 2 children to disease on a cramped cattle car-like sailing from Europe to the Land of Opportunity. Many bring skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago. In describing America, chapter after chapter chronicles "foreigners" who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need guidance in Anytown, USA. Perhaps intelligent immigration reform, White House/Congress and business/labor cooperation, concerned citizens and books like this can extend a helping hand, the same unwavering hand,, lest we forget, that has been the anchor and lighthouse of American values for four hundred years.
Here's a closing quote from the book's Intro: "With all of our cultural differences though, you'll be surprised to learn how much…we as human beings have in common on this little third rock from the sun. After all, the song played at our Disneyland parks around the world is 'It's A Small World After All.' Peace."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stop Treason
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 26, 2014 at 8:33 am

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stop Treason
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 26, 2014 at 8:37 am

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RussianMom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2014 at 9:17 am

As an immigrant myself, we come to this country 20+ years ago legally. We come for the opportunity and better future for our kids. We come, because we admired education, culture, humane approach vs everything we left in motherland. For that, we learned the language and tried to adopt. We kept our own culture and kids are raised with the best of both. BUT from day 1, we wanted to become a good citizens, appreciating the opportunity that America offered generously. Watching recent immigration from China/India/Russia/Mexico I am sad that America become a 'rented apartment', temporary job market. I hear more often how wonderful native contries are and let's rebuild it here?! More and more often I hear that 'we want to work here, but retire back home'. To live here is a privelege that come with responsibilities. If given an opportunity to our own youth (better education, cheaper colleges, easier hiring) they will create companies, work hard, invent, support the economy, etc. we have too much problems to fix at home, before we will fix the whole world.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Illuminato
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2014 at 9:29 am

One of my brothers used to be a programmer at a high tech company in Silicon Valley. He eventually came to hate it for several reasons, but one was that he had to train absolutely clueless H1-B's when they got hired. He called them "H1 Beavers". According to him, their foreign college degrees had to be fake, because they had to be trained from scratch, which was not easy. It was a mystery as to why the company insisted on hiring these people instead of more qualified Americans. I have two theories, either they get paid less or the company gets some kind of kickback from the foreign governments for hiring them. Also I think that applicants loading up their resumes with BS and fooling the HR people probably is a factor.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stanny
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 26, 2014 at 9:36 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2014 at 11:34 am

> That is the FICA that has been deducted out of
> your paycheck - and matched by your employer.

This is true as far as it goes. The reality is that most people draw down their accounts (FICA and employer contributions) within five years of retirement. The rest of their lives (20-30 more years), their SS checks come from other people's accounts, and money borrowed from the Chinese (most likely).

People need to understand that their SS accounts are only partially funded by themselves during their lifetime. The rest of the money comes from some other source--often taxes on future generations to pay off the bonds soWld to pay SS benefits today.
----


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2014 at 11:39 am

> BTW, Germany did not start WWI

Good point. Thanks for keeping the record straight.

Given the nature of European politics of that era, the growing nationalism and the expanding economies of the various players--it's hard to believe that WWI would not have occurred sooner or later--given the interlinked treaties between the various powers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stop Treason
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 26, 2014 at 11:48 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2014 at 11:48 am

> this immigration thing is a 20th century issue that has slopped
> over into the 21st century.

Not true. Immigration was a very hot topic from not-too-long after the founding of the Country. As more newspapers are now on-line, it's not that hard to follow the day-to-day issues from the early 1800s on. The issue became really hot after 1840, and was, in part, a contributor to the so-called Civil War (which wasn't). Issues involving how lond a person should reside in the country before being granted citizen ship were often discussed. The growing economies of all of the States required more people than natural growth allowed. While most of the immigration tended to locate in the Northern, and Western, States--the South also was looking at ways to increase its labor force using immigrationn of Africans and Chinese.

Here in California, Asian immigration was a very hot topic. The 1878 Constitutional Convention was rife with anti-Chinese sentiment.

This issue is almost as old as the US itself.


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Corruption in India:

Web Link

Corruption in India is a major issue that adversely affects its economy.[1] A study conducted by Transparency International in year 2005 found that more than 62% of Indians had firsthand experience of paying bribes or influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices successfully.[2][3] In its study conducted in year 2008, Transparency International reports about 40% of Indians had firsthand experience of paying bribes or using a contact to get a job done in public office.[4]
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Got to wonder how Indians who come to the US as "entrepreneurs" are going to conduct themselves in the US/California business environment. If bribary, and corruption, is a way of life in India--what's to keep India transplants from operating the same why here? After all, India is a very old culture--so why should transplanted Indians want to be influenced by any ideas that Americans might have about honesty, and fairness, in business dealings?


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Posted by Social Security myth
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 26, 2014 at 2:45 pm

"...their SS checks come from other people's accounts, and money borrowed from the Chinese (most likely)."

Not true. Not even close. SS has never borrowed a dime from the Chinese; there is currently a huge surplus (though declining.) You are confusing SS with Medicare; for example, Bush's Medicare Part D was completely unfunded, so therefore has survived on borrowed money, much like our war misadventures.

Social Security has never added a dime to the deficit. Not even close.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Posted by Entrepreneur, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 25, 2014 at 3:39 pm

"I am an entrepreneur who moved here in 2003 and had my share of visa challenges at the time.

My company now employs more than a dozen Americans and pays plenty in taxes. Our nearest competitors are in Europe - we have none in the US. My immigration to this country created significant and meaningful value for the US economy that would not have existed otherwise and withdrew *nothing* from it.

Encouraging entrepreneurs to settle in the US makes enormous social and economic sense for the country. I get it, xenophobia exists wherever there are people but, please, try and open your mind to see what good thousands of the most talented folks on the planet are bringing to the country when they choose to come here to start their companies."

Charming, but what about other countries? I love how people run down the U.S., meanwhile I understand from close contacts that is is nigh impossible to immigrate into Japan, for example. And try purchasing real estate in China.
Talk about xenophobia!
And efforts to permit more H1B visa are questionable and likely linked to the drive to lower salaries. Very clever greedy billionaire high-techies support this...wonder why.


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