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Letter to the editor: by Mary Giovagnoli

Published on Fri, Jan 06, 2012

The POLITICO article “Obama: We Can’t Wait on Immigration” (Jan. 6) suggests that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announcement of streamlined processing for certain immigration waivers is part of a “war on GOP members of Congress.”

This is an unfortunate characterization of a long-overdue regulatory change. It is designed to correct a decade-long problem that has unnecessarily separated families and caused undue hardship to thousands of U.S. citizens and their loved ones.

The proposed rule would permit “in-country processing” of family unity waivers. This changes regulations that now require applicants to leave the country before they can apply for a waiver.

The current system has become increasingly burdensome, because of processing backlogs, uncertainty of outcomes and violence in key U.S. consulates, such as the one in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It creates unnecessary hardship for applicants who are eligible to receive a legal status but must first obtain a family unity waiver.

This waiver can now only be obtained abroad. But leaving the U.S. may trigger a bar of three years to 10 years if the applicant has been unlawfully present.

Many applicants fear that they might be permanently separated from their families and so never apply to become lawful permanent residents. Though applicants would still have to depart the U.S., under the new proposal they would do so knowing that their waiver had been provisionally approved — reducing waiting time and hardship for all.

All members of Congress — Republican or Democrat — have likely seen the compelling cases raised by the three year-to-10 year bar problem. Resolving it is not a partisan issue. It is instead an example of immigration service acting responsibly to address a problem of its own regulatory making.

Mary Giovagnoli

Published in the Politico

Tax Assistance for J-1 Participants


The American Immigration Council cannot legally provide you with tax advice or endorse services from tax accountants. This page provides links to resources located on the IRS website ( If you have any tax law questions, contact the IRS directly:


For tax filing purposes, most J-1 visa holders are considered Nonresident Aliens. As Nonresident Aliens, J-1 exchange visitors must pay federal, state and local taxes. 

J-1 visitors must file annual income tax reports with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is the U.S. government agency responsible for collecting federal taxes. The IRS publishes the comprehensive U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, that answers questions on such topics as what is a nonresident alien, how to determine the amount of tax one pays, and how to get help with your tax questions. The link to this publication is: more...

Immigration advocates march to support immigration reform

Published on Mon, Mar 12, 2012

Immigration advocates continue to march to oppose enforcement-only state laws, deportation proceeding and to support immigration reform measures.

The recent deportation proceedings against Miami student Daniela Pelaez and her sister have sparked outrage in South Florida, with thousands taking to the streets last week to protest.

Speaking on the Spanish-language news show Al Punto on Sunday, Pelaez told reporters that her lawyer had obtained a deferred action – a step that effectively halts deportation proceedings against her, and grants her two years to adjust her residency status in immigration court.

Congressman David Rivera, R-Florida, who met with Pelaez on the heels of the Miami protest, announced Friday that he would file the Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status Act, or S.T.A.R.S. Act, which would allow undocumented immigrant youth who meet certain criteria to adjust their residency status.

But according to DRM Capitol, an organization that supports the DREAM Act, Rivera’s S.T.A.R.S. Act “is far from the more comprehensive DREAM Act that many undocumented youth organizations are fighting for.”

“This proposal is an orchestrated attempt to appeal to the important Latino voting block that will be critical to the 2012 elections,” adds DRM Capitol.

In its March/April issue, Mother Jones published its Immigration Hardliner Family Tree, a chart showing the links between organizations that support self-deportation or attrition through enforcement immigration policies and several GOP politicians, including Florida congressman Allen West.

GOP presidential candidates have said they support controversial immigration enforcement laws that currently exist in Alabama, Arizona and Georgia. Those candidates have also voiced their opposition to the DREAM Act, which polls show the majority of Latino voter support.Read more...

Published in the The Florida Independent

2011 2nd Place National Winner

 America,  A Beautiful Nation

Why is our nation American beautiful?  Because it is unique.  America is like a multicolored bird.  Eachi feather is an immigrant, giving our country beauty.  Without each and every feather, there would be no bird at all.  Without each color, the bird would be gray, dull, a miserable sparrow.

Why is our nation America beautiful?  It is complex.  America is like a field of floweres, each one unique.  Each flower is an immigrant, defining our country as diverse.  Without every flower, every person, America would be an old field of dry hay.

With immigrants, our beautiful nation strives and becomes something great.  It becomes a room with great, wide, open windows.  It allows us to see farther into what is honorable.

That is why America grows stronger.  With immigrants, it allows us to see how kind it is to keep an open door for everyone.  It gives our country a spark, that gives us a shine so bright, anyone anywhere can see us.

That is why America, our national is beautiful.

America needs the strong hearts brave enough to travel far into our distant land. My own great-grandfather was a refugee from Russia.  He, a Jew, escaped from possibly being killed.  His father worked as a bottle washer in America.  He got paid very little, with bad conditions, but he was determined.  We need that type of strong hearted people in America.

My ancestors also came from Ireland, a country which suffered many hardships.  My ancestors were always poor, and never could waste a single penny.  Their struggling left them with pure toughness.  We need people who are still willing even when things are going poorly.Read more...

Report: Biometric Data Being Collected with 'Little to No Standards, Oversight, or Transparency'

Published on Wed, May 23, 2012

A report released by the IPC was highlighted and summarized by Security Management: Read more...

Published in the Security Management

Top Resources

Deportations Are Up, But Is Anyone Applauding?

Published on Thu, Sep 13, 2012

Ben Winograd, an American Immigration Council staff attorney, was quoted in a KPBS article in which he explains government deportation-speak:  Read more...

Published in the KPBS San Diego

IEC Comments on Proposed DS 7002

Read our comments on proposed versions of the DS 7002 form issued by the US Department of State...

July 05, 2012-- The International Exchange Center has responded to the second round of proposed revisions to form DS 7002. Read our full comments to the Department of State here.

February 28, 2012--
The International Exchange Center submitted comments for the proposed form DS-7002 to the Department of State. A full version of these comments is available here.

AIC Executive Director Ben Johnson Quoted in the Financial Times

Published on Tue, Jun 11, 2013

The Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, Ben Johnson, was quoted in a Financial Times article titled "US Senate to debate immigration."  Here's an excerpt:

"In a sign of how the GOP establishment is swinging behind the effort, Crossroads GPS, the well-funded and influential political group run by former Bush aide Karl Rove, has started running newspaper ads in favour of immigration reform.

"The group has taken full-page ads in Washington newspapers declaring that 'America deserves an immigration system that works', saying reform 'presents a historic opportunity to strengthen our nation’s security and prosperity for the future'.

"However, many immigration reform advocates are holding their breath.

'This issue has proven to be difficult – beyond difficult – and I think it’s going to be a fight to the death,' said Ben Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council, adding that it was still 'susceptible to political winds'.

Published in the Financial Times

Sherrie A. Kossoudji, Ph.D

Sherrie A. Kossoudji, Ph.D is an associate professor in the School of Social Work and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Michigan.