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Should I still move to the United States in this economy?

by Cedric M. Shen

August 1, 2011 | 3:04 pm

The Great Recession started three years ago in 2008 and it’s apparent that the United States still hasn’t fully recovered.  The troubles that began on Wall Street with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the hubbub of sub-prime mortgages, soon manifested itself in a housing collapse and high unemployment rates.  While the economy appeared to have slowly recovered, America is by no means out of the woods.  This ongoing debt ceiling crisis sure doesn’t help either.

So the question for people looking to come to America is “should I or shouldn’t I”?  Despite the gloom and doom, I think that now is the best time to make your move to the United States.  If you are a student, this is the best time to add to educational credentials while the economy is slow.  Nothing better than being equipped to storm the job market in 2-3 years with an M.D., J.D., Ph.D. or an MBA

Foreign investors considering an E-2 visa or an EB-5 green card may want to consider starting up a business now while interest rates are low.  While credit may be a problem, the aforementioned visas generally require the investors to have the capital placed at risk from the outset.  Furthermore, E-2 visas can be approved within a matter of months, while EB-5 green cards have been issued within a year of making the initial investment.

Professionals looking to work in the United States should take advantage of the coveted H-1B visa.  WIth an annual cap of 65,000 visas, the quota was met within the first couple of weeks of availability in previous years.  With the slow economy, the quotas are taking much longer to fill and therefore making it easier for those applying for an H-1B visa to have one approved.  As stated in my previous posts, H-1B’s have several advantages. Most notably, they are valid for three years and renewable for an additional three years.  Moreover, H-1B’s allow for ‘dual intent.’ This means that the visa holder may apply for a green card while simultaneously working under the H-1B.  If your green card application is pending, an H-1B can even be extended beyond six years under AC21.

Canadians and Mexican professionals should also take advantage of the TN visa, which was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement.  While this visa is limited to certain white collar professions, it is a very mobile visa in that one may apply for it at the border and that one may change employers a lot easier because of the ease with which one can re-apply.  In addition, the TN visa is now valid for up to three years.  Previously, it was only valid for one year.

Like those who invest in the stock market when prices are low, foreigners should look take advantage of this troubled economy to move to the United States.  After all, this is, and always will be, the land of opportunity.  When the economy picks up and visas become more difficult to obtain, you may just regret not getting in on the ground floor.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Cedric M. Shen is a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney experienced in helping foreign nationals enter the United States. His law practice focuses on employment-based green...

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