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Attorney Addresses Students' Immigration Concerns

Thomas R. Karlo--The Tech
Immigration lawyer Ralph A. Donabed speaks last night in Room 1-390 about student immigration issues. The talk was presented by the Indian student group Sangam.

By Dan McGuire
Staff Reporter

Boston immigration lawyer Ralph A. Donabed spoke yesterday afternoon on the federal regulations on immigration in an event organized by Sangam, the Indian students group.

"There's some hysteria about the new [immigration] bills [before Congress], and we wanted to clear up the misconceptions," said Sangam Vice President Neeraj N. Karhade '98. The number of student and work visas are threatened by various bills under consideration by Congress.

In immigration law, "the broader issues should be something you familiarize yourself with," said Donabed, who spoke to more than 60 people in Room 1-390. "Our immigration laws -- even with today's restrictions -- are among the most liberal in the world, especially for the technically educated."

"You have nothing to worry about if you enter the U.S. labor force with a degree from this institution. You will be welcomed with open arms" by an American company, he said.

Changes may affect medical students

Proposed congressional "bills are getting changed every day. They don't mean anything until they go to the floor for approval," Donabed said. "I'm not worried about this, and I don't think you should be. Wait until a bill is ready to be signed by the president."

Foreign medical graduates are losing their support and may face increasing problems in the next few years, Donabed said. The American Medical Association no longer lobbies as hard as it once did for foreign doctors.

"There seems to be an opinion out there that there are too many doctors," he said.

"A lot of the regulations that have come out of the White House during the Clinton administration have made getting the H1 visa more difficult," Donabed said.

It used to take two weeks to get this kind of employment visa that is sponsored by a company and expires in less than six years, he said. "Now it takes six weeks."

The Department of Labor scrutinizes the salaries that companies offer foreign graduates to ensure the companies are not attempting to import inexpensive labor, Donabed said.

For foreign students who do not have blood relatives who are U.S. citizens, the easiest way of getting a green card is thorough the labor certification process, Donabed said.

"A U.S. employer says that this is the job I want someone to do and this is the skill set one would need to do this job," Donabed said. "If the company cannot find a person to do that job, we'll give [the] foreign worker labor certification."

"It is probably the most difficult process," Donabed said. "But if you get a labor certification, unless you are an undesirable alien, you will probably get a green card," he said.