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Perks and costs of immigration

Original post made by Immigrant, South of Midtown, on Jun 11, 2008

Let me tell you my story which might open your eyes on costs and perks of immigration. I am an immigrant. I got my greencard through work, 5 years later got my US citizenship. My parents stayed back home, visited me twice, but every time they came to US embassy for visitor visa their experience was so nerve wrecking and humiliating, that I decided to apply for US green card for them. Again, my main motivation was not to move them here, but to save them from the stress in obtaining US visitor visa. The process of getting them greencards was a delight - it took less than a year. And then we found out even more delighful details - since both of them were 65, they got Medical and Medicare for free. We also found out that even though I signed up sponsorship for them, they were still elegible for many social benefits we did not even dream about, such as free food stamps, eligibility for subsidised housing, etc. And 5 years after getting their green card, they will get their US citizenships and will be getting pension or social security payments in the amount of $800/mo per person. They were overjoyed, they have not worked in US for a single day and they will be having a very comfortable retirement with free medical care, subsidized housing and decent pension.
To address this loophole, US needs to make it easier for parents of US residents and citizens to get visitor visas and long term visas. My parents would not have moved here, if they could easily get visitor visas.
But more importantly - address the immigration law laws re immigrant visas for parents. Allowing for parents to immigrate to US is very costly. Just make it easier for them to come and stay with their kids, even if for extended term like 6 or 12 months.

Comments (6)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2008 at 2:46 pm

There is an interesting flip side to this.

A few years ago a coworker and his wife got their green cards here after working here for 5 years or so on L1 visas. A year or so later they decided to move back to their original country for family reasons but they still liked it here and wanted to come back to visit. Each time they visited they used their green cards to come in, but the last time they came in, with a return paid ticket out of the country, they were told that although they were welcome to come in that time, they were confiscating their green cards and that next time they would have to re-apply for visas. This was quite a blow to them as they had hoped to come back to work here again when their family situation was different.

Immigration is very strange as it depends a great deal on the individual official you are dealing with each time.

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Posted by Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 11, 2008 at 3:00 pm

And, every time your co-worker left the country did they file a Federal Income Tax return? I remember having to do that while working with a green card which was my main motivation for applying and getting citizenship. I could then come and go with a U.S. passport without filing an income tax return.

My parents came to visit and they had no problems. In fact, they were offered a permanent visa which allowed them to come in and out of the country at will. They were both over 65.

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Posted by CompletelyAgree
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 11, 2008 at 3:07 pm

I completely agree with Immigrant ..

USA consulates over-seas are a nightmare.

I am a native of India. I followed the GC ( work related ) channel. Since I am the only child of my parents - my parents were keen on spending time with us after the grandkids were born. They were keen on alternating every 4 to 6 months .. but trust me, the trips back within 6 months were a nightmare. They got grilled at SFO immigration every single time. It was stressful and quite humiliating - we were buying our own health insurance, we were not expecting the govt to pay for any costs - but! At one point they stamped the I-94 (stay permit) for just three months .. that did it for me ! I decided to go ahead and apply for their green card.

Make it easier for parents to visit, make it easier for them to stay for extended period of time - we are not asking for medical benefits, work related benefits - all we are asking for is the opportunity for elderly parents to spend time with their children and grand children

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Posted by Green card holder
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Of course green card holders pay taxes, both fed and state. It is a misconception that we are working here and don't pay taxes, of course we do. The only thing we don't get is a vote.

If we apply for citizenship and then go back to our own country to retire, we then have to pay US taxes for ever. If we give up our green cards, then we don't have to pay any more US taxes unless we still own property or have investments here. Even if we own no property and have no $$$ investments, as US citizens we will still have to file taxes and pay tax here until we die. One reason for not taking out citizenship.

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Posted by Another Green Card Holder
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 11, 2008 at 3:48 pm

On a green card
- We pay taxes ( all sorts )
- We do not get to vote
- Beyond the age of 65, we do not get the SS benefits
- Beyond the age of 65, we are not eligible for the Medicare / Medi-Cal benefits

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Posted by Ada
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 11, 2008 at 5:02 pm

This is not about green card holders who pay or not pay taxes. Yes, indeed, if you spend more than 6 months a year outside of US, your greencard (permanent resident status) maybe withheld because it is for permanent residents, and if you live outside the country for more than half the time, how can you claim to be permanent resident?

That said, Tania raised a great point. Just think anout the cost of providing Medicare / Medi-Cal benefits, SS pension, subsidized housing, etc to thousands, if not millions of old age parents of immigrants, who would otherwise stay in their home countries had it not been for stupid visa restrictions. Parents of US citizens should be allowed long term visas with multiple entries, because otherwise they will chose to immigrate and become US citizens and reap all the social benefits they never worked for. US is so short sighted in its policies...

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