Saturday, June 4, 2011

Explicable but stupid!

I'm not the greatest fan of Jurgen Appelo, but I think he does think and write some good stuff from time to time.

However, he was recently denied entry into the United States because of his work independent training contractor!

How could this be the case? Gross stupidity on his part, or on the part of the United States immigration law?

The answer is: YES! 

For a smart guy, Appelo was unwittingly(?) ignorant.  10 minutes on the State Departments visa website would have told him he was steering into troubled waters. (See below).  And yes, for a country that values technology and those that practice it, we are stupidly denying ourselves of talent.

In his words, describing his interview with a immigation official:
But no, the reason was that a self-employed independent trainer is not allowed to “work in the USA”. The government official (who was very kind to me by the way) explained that “the rules are unfortunately stacked against independent consultants”. He tried to find loopholes, but there weren’t any. It didn’t matter that I have a company and a US tax number. And so, until somebody changes the law, he said, he had to send me back home. Even if I applied for a work visa, I wouldn’t get it, he told me. Work visas are usually given to people working for bigger companies, with legal entities in the US. The easiest thing to do would be to hire an American person to give my courses in the USA.

A special case? But no! Reading the comments on his blog about this, apparently this is routinely the case, especially with trainers. I thought we valued diversity and education in this country.

Now, a review of visa requirements at the State Department visa site makes it pretty clear (I wonder if Jurgen bothered to read before travelling?): Europeans [and many others] can enter the U.S. without a visa, as Jurgen intended to do, for tourism.  But for any other purpose a visa is required. 

Now, a B-1 visa is issued for business purposes, but strangely enough some special interest got training-for-a-fee specifically excluded from the B-1 (training for no fee is ok and within the B-1!).

That leaves the H1-B and O-1 visas which are for 'temporary workers' who are persons with special science, arts, and other enumerated skills (so far as a lay person like me can fathom).  H1-B's are limited by law and there is a waiting list of petitioners, so that would seem to be a dead end.

I have no idea how difficult it is to qualify as a specially skilled artisan or technician for O-1 purposes.  Maybe you just fill in a form and press on. (State has a website for online application for visas for non-immigrants) But why does it have to be so complicated?  Explicable, but inexplicable.

The immigration thing is like the TSA: beyond practical comprehension.

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