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  • nogc_noproblem
    08-05 01:49 PM
    A man was sitting alone in his office one night when a genie popped up out of his ashtray...
    ... and said, "And what will your third wish be?"

    The man looked at the genie and said, "Huh? How can I be getting a third wish when I haven't had a first or second wish yet?"

    "You have had two wishes already," the genie said, "but your second wish was for me to put everything back the way it was before you made your first wish. Thus, you remember nothing; because everything is the way it was before you made any wishes. You now have one wish left."

    "Okay," said the man, "I don't believe this, but what the heck. I wish I were irresistible to women."

    "Funny," said the genie as it granted his wish and disappeared forever. "That was your first wish, too!"

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  • sledge_hammer
    06-05 04:49 PM
    Your leverage is $270,000 in this investment, and you pay 5% interest on it which is tax deductible. You don't suppose one can borrow 270Gs to invest in, per my example, S&P 500 to get 10% annually? Of course the you are able to borrow that much on a home is because it is considered relatively a safe debt for the lender. That can't be said for stocks.

    How/where else will you earn $15,000 (equity) per year by spending $13,500 (interest).

    Remember, every payment I make, I also include the principal payment, so I am closer to owning more of my home as time passes.

    >> But going with the spirit of my original post, in the long run, the equity you build (15K/yr) will far out weigh the yearly savings you get by renting.

    You are right in 90% of cases - where people will otherwise spend the money and not save it.

    If you have a mortgage - you are "forced" to save because the monthly amortization automatically builds equity. If you are renting - you are not "forced" to save that amount - and hence would probably be spent (in my case) in a gaming machine with I7 processor (which has NO long term value).

    However, in the hypothetical 10% scenario (in case of immigrants, specially Indians, my gut feel is that it is significantly more than 10%) - where the amount is saved in some sort of investment vehicle instead of being frittered away - you would come out ahead in the long term.

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  • alisa
    12-27 01:04 AM
    There is no coherent state or government in Pakistan anymore, there are only personalities pulling the country in various directions. So let's only talk of personalities. My hunch (and that of the many world intelligence agencies too) is that Kayani did it! He was being pushed to a corner by Zardari, who was rapidly chipping away at his power at the behest of US. Apparently Zardari is wiling to give US a much freer hand in western Pak than Kayani. Kayani feared that Zardati may topple him and appoint another COAS. So he played this masterstroke. Zardari and Gillani were taken completely off guard by this hit.

    You are right about the lack of governance in Pakistan. And that there are more personalities and less institutions.
    But I think you are wrong about Kayani. I haven't seen any reports about any intelligence agencies pointing fingers at Kayani. So, I am curious if you could provide any links. It sounds like a conspiracy theory otherwise.

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  • santb1975
    06-08 12:37 AM
    but I don't see the price coming down anytime soon either. Whoever invested in gold about 5-6 years ago made good money. Commodities are definately a good buy in this economy but any investments these days comes only after building up a 8-12 month emergency fund. This thread is getting interesting.

    Thread gets more interesting...way of life..love the way it transformed from home buying good/bad to sound investment advice...here is my bit:

    With all the $$ spending by government, inflation is inevitable. FED can try to fight it by increasing interest rates, but that will open another box of worms. In a hurry now and will post a detailed discussion later about interest rates, fed and inflation..very interesting indeed

    my take is gold...solid investment in these times and a proven hedge against inflation

    goodluck guys..more later


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  • wellwisher02
    03-29 09:02 AM
    o.k. ..I guess it was the beer that I had made my post confusing. what I am saying is even now home prices are inflated ..see mariners post above. GC is the main hurdle and it will take around 1.5 years to get it ...I guess by that time prices would have corrected and that is when I would buy it.
    if I had got GC 1 year back ..would I have purchased it ..a big NO.
    last point ..even when I buy the house ..I wont think of it as an investment ..because we will never see those appreciations again ..look around, there is no shortage of land whatsoever.
    having a GC simplifies things as I have one less thing to worry about and I can then atleast start looking.
    on EAD ..I won't even waste gas to look around ..
    even in california ..as far as I know ..it is because of excessive regulation that the RE is so pricey ..as other countries and places in US open up and become innovation centres ..regulations would become less or else price appreciation would come down in california.
    BTW even I say it depends on one's situation ....some of my friends have extended families in US or their kids are grown up and they need space (some of them are renting their basements to a relative) ..in such cases it definitely makes sense to buy a house.
    if it makes u feel better ..in my view ..long term prices will go up ..at around 4% once the correction is done (2010or 2011). at the same time for e.g when prices in atlanta drop by 4.5 percent (as in last case S index) ..the real drop is 7% when you take inflation in account.
    one last example ..one of my batchmates in engg had purchased a house in san diego at the height of the bubble (750K) ..when I mentioned the bubble ..he said I don't care ..I like to live high or whatever ..now his house is in foreclosure


    Buying a house is good or bad based on your homework you've done or need to do. I did not buy a house until I was close to my EAD. However, a couple of my wife's friends purchased their 'home' even when they were on H1B. This happened in California where the house value is astronomically high when compared to other places (like Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Chicago, etc). They lived in their home for 3-4 years, still didn't get their GC, sold their house and collected a huge profit of $200K and moved to over Texas. This happened in early 2006. They took the risk which worked out well for them ...meaning they were constantly on projects.

    You gotta live in a place like CA to make reasonable profits. I am at present in VA, having bought a house there. I bought in Nov 2006 when real estate began to crash. As I speak I didn't make any equity. How much equity will I build in the next 2 years. This is anybody's guess ...maybe 10K or 20K, assuming real estate problems are bottoming out.

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  • satishku_2000
    01-29 03:18 PM
    You should have asked your coworker , why he did not leave when the demand was low for tech workers (from 2001 to 2003 ) ...............:)


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  • chintu25
    08-05 11:55 AM
    I am requesting an amendment to the spelling of "mahaul".
    I think it would sound better if we spelled it as "mahole" :D

    Mohol --> :D

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  • akred
    08-06 01:26 PM
    Seems to me that the problem as usual is that too many people qualify for EB2 thus slowing down "genuine" cases.

    The solution to this is in the hands of the DOL. DOL can reduce the number of people qualifying for EB2 by simply doing away with the "business necessity" exception.

    In other words without this exception, people will qualify for EB2 only if their field requires an advanced degree due to law (e.g. doctors) or if an advanced degree is customary in the profession (e.g. academia). This will reduce the flow to EB2 by disqualifying the large number of professions where an advanced degree is merely discretionary and not mandatory (e.g. MS, MBA)

    But this is a very draconian measure and hopefully does not come into play.


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  • dealsnet
    09-27 02:26 PM
    I wish Mc Cain to win this election. Republican party is good to India, pro-life, do not waste money and support same sex domestic partners. Their moral and cultural values are good. They do not increase taxes. Good for Industry.
    I will support the party not the candidates. They are good for the security for the country. Terrorist are increased in all over the world. But no more attack on American soil. Clinton ignored the security of the country and we saw what happened. That time IT revolution happened. Not because of him the economic bubble occured. But it will happen, if any body is in power that time.

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  • mpadapa
    09-30 04:07 PM
    If Obama becomes president can he restore the faith of high-skilled immigrant who play by the books and still have to wait for decades to get their Green Card.

    After graduating with a Electrical engg degree from a top school in India, I got a job with a world leading semiconductor company. I first came to USA almost 12 years ago on a business trip as part of a multinational chip design effort for high end Telecommunication market. I was very impressed with the group of professionals I worked with. I felt the work environment stimulated the creativity in me and brought the best out of me. After the short trip I went back to my home country but that visit left a lasting impression on me and I felt USA would be the place I can further my professional abilities. Couple of years later, I came to USA for my Masters to embark on that journey. Even though I graduated when the US economy was in recession (2001), my unique skill set was much sought after and hence I got a job with a R&D startup division of a popular Japanese company. Working with a great group of professionals brought out the creativity in me. I currently have 10 US patents. The sailing was smooth until I started my Green Card process. The outdated immigration system and the long wait in the limbo state has been impacting my professional and personal life. I am starting to doubt that my American dream is slipping away day by day. I hope if Obama becomes the president he would restore some credibility to my faith in the immigration system. But if Sen. Durbin is driving Obama's immigration policy then I fear even more long waits for high-skilled immigrants because of Sen. Durbin's aggressive stance against H1B's. Mean while I have started to look at immigrant friendly countries like Australia and Canada as my possible future destination. Due to too much headaches with immigration process my Director had decided not to hire any more foreign workers, this decision has crippled our divisions expansion as most of the interested candidates require H1's. All the new projects which otherwise would have started in USA has moved to other places all because of the broken immigration process.

    Obama has mentioned many times on the campaign trail that "his education" is the reason why he has risen to where he is now. I feel Obama is a person who values higher education and high-skilled professional and I do have great faith in Obama's skills, I hope he takes a strong stance on the need to reform the high-skilled immigration system.

    Many have been looking at the high-skilled immigrants through a narrow pin hole, even Sen Durbin has been swayed by such critics. NFAP report shows that almost 50% of the private venture backed companies started between 1995 and 2005 are founded by immigrants. Guess what Sen. Durbin and high-skilled immigrant critics majority of those immigrants would've taken the route of H1 -> GreenCard -> US citizen. The companies started by those immigrants employ thousands of Americans and millions in tax revenue. Then why is America so hostile towards the same high-skilled immigration system which in the long run benefits America. Why are Sen. Durbin so short sighted on the high-skilled immigration system? Hope Obama can look at the high-skilled immigration system with a long term perspective and persuade his colleagues in Congress to enact a legislation to fix this broken system.

    Here is the link to the NFAP report which I talked about

    http://www.nfap.com/researchactivities/studies/immigrant_entreprenuers_professionals_november_200 6.pdf


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  • abracadabra102
    01-06 07:21 PM
    The palestine problem was created by British people without considering Palestian's approval for the same. What palestinians are asking is their legitimate right. So Hamas is not the first party to blame for palestinian's problem. But Britain is the first person.

    You can blame Hamas for wrong approach to the problem which aggravated the problem in such a way that it can not be solved. Also due to Hamas, Palestinians are suffering like anything. God bless all innocent people who suffers.

    British essentially turned over the issue to UN and pulled out of that region after second world war. As a conquering nation, Britain will certainly get some blame for almost all world issues of 20th century (like Indo-Pakistan division and aftermath).

    In fact there was Israeli Irgun which was more like Hamas during formation of Israel. These activities stopped once state of Israel is formed. Perhaps same thing might have happened with Palestine as well. Isreal was willing to yield some areas for palestine state and Jordan, Syria and Egypt could have easily given up some of the land if there is any shortfall. Instead they drummed up Palestine passions and in the end grabbed some of Palestine land rendering them homeless. It is a tragedy that Palestines are now living like refugees in their homeland.

    Bill Clinton tried real hard to settle this issue and the Israeli prime minister at the time virtually sacrificed his political career with that agreement. Arab countries should have talked sense into Arafat and probably should have given up some of their land for a lasting peace. But that was the last thing on their agenda.

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  • unitednations
    07-08 06:10 PM

    The outstanding questions, i guess, are:

    They allotted the visa numbers prior to actual approvals. This contravened their clearly stated policy. In fact the ombudsman mentions this policy and suggests change. If they allotted the numbers prematurely, and are still in the process of approving those petitions and sending out the decisions...should the numbers have remained current UNTIL THE LAST PETITION IS APPROVED?

    ---------------------this is an age old problem for uscis. If when a case is filed and they allocate a visa to it; then there would be a massive amount of visas that would go unused. A 2006 visa number cannot spill over to 2007 because the carryover effect is not available. If a person is stuck in name check, didn't get fingerprints; case got denied and is in appeal then that visa would be lost forever if it didn't get approved by the end of the fiscal year; and someone else wouldn't be able to file. You would only have forward movement of visa dates until beginning of next fiscal year when they release visas and then they could move them back to let other people file who just got their labors approved or follow to join, etc.

    ---------------------the current administration is fond of re-defining many things in law; they have re-defined torture; geneva conventions; bill of rights; even though those laws have not changed.

    ----------------------now they are re-defining the visa bulletin. Look back at June 2005; when eb3 visas went unavailable for july; they still allowed people to file until end of june. When October 2005 visa bulletin came out and eb2 india went back to 1998 they had used up all the visas by september but still allowed filing. When eb2 india went unavailable in August 2006 they still allowed people to file in July 2006.

    ----------------------therefore, the law hasn't changed but they have re-defined it. I haven't met anyone yet who actually had their case approved on the week-end. Just knowing systems the way I know them; they probably aren't allowed to do transactions on week-ends or holidays. Therefore, whatever happens on the week-end could have happened on the friday or the following monday. It will be interesting to see how many people actually get their greencard and it says "permanent reident since.... June 29, 30 or July 1".

    ----------------------the stakes were big enough for uscis that they were willing to re-define how they look at things. Hundreds of millions or billions of dollars would have been a big enough stake for uscis/dos to re-define the relevant laws/regulations and long standing process. Interesting thing is how would things have changed if the actual fee strcture went into affect on July 2. Maybe uscis wouldn't have been so overzealous in approving cases at lightning speeds.

    One could argue that per USCIS policy and stated process the visa numbers are still available till that day- a petition could be rejected at the last moment- sending a number back to the pool....

    the other question is- did they allot >81% of the numbers (27% per quarter) even before the fourth quarter began? Can they allot numbers on sunday while not accepting applications that day because they are "closed" thus denying petitioners from getting in while the numbers are current?

    i would be surprised if they went over the country cap- they have treated that as religion of late.

    ===============they definitely went over the country cap. EB1 ROW and EB2 row have never been retrogressed and eb3 row was retrogressed in June itself.

    the dates for india/china will only move after EB3 ROW becomes current. any ideas how far that is?

    ===============I was surpirsed myself in the perm labor filings. There is actually a very high number of cases filed by ROW people. ROW people will always get preference. 2007 ROW priority date in eb3 would get preference over the 2,802 person from india even if that person's date is 2003.

    see answers within text.


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  • Macaca
    02-13 09:31 AM
    This thread is for resources on lobbying for legislation

    Pre-requisite: What is Legislation? (http://immigrationvoice.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3317&highlight=legislation)

    Lobbying is the practice of trying to persuade legislators to propose, pass, or defeat legislation or to change existing laws. A lobbyist may work for a group, organization, or industry, and presents information on legislative proposals to support his or her clients' interests.


    History of lobbying (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/common/briefing/Byrd_History_Lobbying.htm)
    The Nonprofit Lobbying Guide (http://www.independentsector.org/programs/gr/lobbyguide.html)
    Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest (http://www.clpi.org/)
    The Democracy Center (http://www.democracyctr.org/)

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  • gcbikari
    08-06 01:36 PM
    Bihar Driving License...

    ------------------------------------------ -----------------------

    NOTE: Please do not soot the person at the applikason kounter.
    He will give you the licen.
    For phurthar instructions, see bottom applikason.

    1. Last name:

    (_) Yadav (_) Sinha (_) Pandey (_) Misra (_) Dot no

    (Check karet box)

    2. First name:

    (_) Ramprasad (_) Lakhan (_) Sivprasad (_) Jamnaprasad (_) Dot no

    (Check karet box)

    3. Age:

    (_) Less than phipty (_) Greater than phipty (_) Dot no

    (Check karet box)

    4. Sex: ____ M _____ P(F) _____ not sure _____not applicable

    5. Chappal Size: ____ Lepht ____ Right


    (_) Politison (_) Doodhwala (_) Pehelwaan (_) House wife (_) Un-employed

    (Check karet box)

    7. Number of children libing in the household: ___

    8. Number that are yours: ___
    9. Mather name: _______________________

    10. Phather Name: ____________________ (If not no,leave blank)

    11. Ejjucason: 1 2 3 4 (Circle highest grade completed)

    12. Dental rekard:

    (_) Ellow (_) Berownish-ellow (_) Berown (_) Belack (_) Other -__________
    Give egjhakt color

    (Check karet box)

    13.Your thumb imparesson :

    (If you are copying from another applikason pharom, please do not copy
    thumb impression also. Please
    provide your own thumb impression.)


    Use thumb on y our lepht hand only. If you dont have le pht hand, use your
    thumb on right hand. If you do not have right hand, use thumb on lepht




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  • Macaca
    12-27 07:31 PM
    'A Hole to Bury You'
    A first-hand account of how China's police treats the citizens it's supposed to serve and protect. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203731004576045152244293970.html)
    By TENG BIAO | Wall Street Journal

    On Dec. 23, the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons From Forced Disappearance came into force. China has declined to accede to this convention. My experience that same day is just one of many examples of how the authorities continue to falsely imprison Chinese citizens.

    That evening, I was in the Xizhimen area of Beijing chatting with my colleagues Piao Xiang, Xu Zhiyong and Zhang Yongpan. Ms. Piao had been disappeared after she and I went to Dandong on Oct. 7 to argue the court case of Leng Guoquan, a man framed by the police for drug trafficking; she had only been released on Dec. 20. Her abductors had been officers from the state security squad of the Public Security Bureau. I asked her to narrate the entire process of her disappearance in detail.

    Later, I suggested to Mr. Zhang, "Let's go and see Fan Yafeng's mom." The day before, we had contacted fellow human rights lawyer Fan Yafeng and found out that he was under strict house arrest. But he had said that his mother was going to be alone at home in the evening and so I thought we should go see her.

    Because I used to go there frequently I remembered clearly where she lived. As Mr. Zhang and I entered the block of flats and started walking up the staircase, I had a feeling that someone was following us. Observing that we went to the third floor, a young security guard asked us whom we were visiting. We said, "We're seeing a friend." Immediately, he called out for someone else to come up.

    We knocked on the door and were greeted by Mr. Fan's mother. But as we entered the flat, the security guard came with us, and a person in plainclothes stormed in just behind him. The man in plainclothes demanded to check our IDs in a very coarse manner. I asked him in a loud voice, "What sort of people are you? How can you enter a private residence without permission?"

    The plainclothes man said, "I am a police officer. We want to check your ID cards." "You're a police officer? I want to see your police ID." "If I am telling you I'm a police officer, then that's what I am. What are you doing here?" "Is that your business? How can you prove you're a police officer if you don't show your police ID card?"

    The situation was escalating. I ducked my head and used my phone to send out a message on Twitter, and Mr. Zhang made a phone call to a friend. It was then about half past eight. The plainclothes guy made a phone call asking for reinforcement. Later I learned that at that moment our own reinforcements were mobilizing.

    Two police officers showed up. One of them showed us his police ID. I asked Mr. Zhang to note down his police ID number and name, Shi Ligang, and pass it on to our Twitter friends. Then they wanted to check our IDs. I said, "According to Article 15 of the National Identity Card Law you have no right to check them in the present situation."

    He said, "We are conducting an investigation in accordance with the People's Police Law." I said, "You can only question people who are suspected of having broken a law. We've just come to a friend's home for a visit, so you have no right to question us."

    We quarreled for some time, and that state security squad officer in plainclothes kept making phone calls asking for more people to come over. The situation was getting worse, so I sent another Twitter message.

    I talked to Mr. Fan's mother and the older state security squad officer told her not to speak to me. I got angry. "You're not even disclosing your identity, do you think you can enter other people's flat as you please and order the flat-owner about�not to mention that that's illegal, it lacks every human feeling!"

    "You should think more clearly. Don't talk so much about the law with me. Do you know where we are? We are on Communist Party territory!"

    The state security squad officer later tried to beat me. I warned him, "As you haven't shown me any documentation, you don't even have the right to seek a conversation with me. Don't push me." Then he said, "Don't you know what place you are in? This is China! Now you've come here, don't think you can leave again!"

    After about 15 minutes, a large contingent of police officers arrived. I was in the washroom at the time. I could hear the police dragging Mr. Zhang forcefully downstairs. The plainclothes man banged madly at the door of the washroom, cracking a hole into the thin wooden panel of the door. I said, "I just want to use the washroom!" He said, "You're not allowed to," and kept banging against the door. He inserted his hand through the hole he had made, and undid the latch. Several police officers dragged me out. The state security squad officer took away my glasses. I am severely near-sighted, and as a result I was quite unable to see clearly. Later, I wasn't even able to read a police officer's ID number.

    I protested loudly against this treatment. A whole group of police officers pushed, shoved, pulled and dragged me down the stairs and into a police van. Mr. Zhang's glasses and mobile phone had also been taken away. As we were dragged away we were also beaten. My hand had been grabbed so violently that it was injured in a few places. A police officer wanted to take away my mobile phone, I resisted with all my force and he eventually desisted.

    When we arrived at the Shuangyushu police station, I said, "You have no right to take us into a police station. You can't be ignorant of the provision of Article 9 of the Police Law!"

    "Want to tell us what it says?"

    "'In the following four sets of circumstances, the police may take citizens to a public security bureau for questioning: (1) if the person has been accused of having committed a crime, (2) if a person has been discovered at the suspected scene of a crime, (3) if a person is suspected of a crime and if their identity is not clear, (4) if a person carries goods with them that may have been stolen." And if you want to check a person's ID card, you can only do that in the following cases: (1) suspicion of illegal behavior, (2) control of a site, (3) sudden incidents severely endangering the social order, or (4) other situations stipulated in the law - and such a law stipulating other situations must have been passed by the National People's Congress or its Standing Committee." I knew this stuff inside out.

    "But you are a person 'whose identity is unclear.'"

    "But according to the law, persons whose identity is unclear can only be checked if they are 'suspected of having committed a crime.' I don't belong in that category." Since there are more and more activists nowadays who are familiar with these two legal provisions and use them to challenge the police, I've been told by police officers that they hate the very bones of the legislators who created them.

    Mr. Zhang and I were taken to two different rooms on the second floor of the police station. A gang of police officers again came to wrestle my mobile phone from me; and there was another scuffle. All the things inside my pocket were taken out. I protested. Seven or eight police officers loudly insulted me. Two or three were swearing especially viciously, using mafia slang words to curse me.

    A police officer shouted at me to sit; I pushed the chair over with my foot. Several officers rushed forward and twisted my arms, punched my head and choked me, and pushed me to the ground. They took me to another room. In the corridor I cried out, "I am a law teacher, I know whether or not you are violating the law." I said this primarily to make them understand that they were dealing with someone who knew the law, to make them refrain from acting rashly and inflicting too much pain�and it was also meant for the ears of Mr. Zhang and the officers who were interrogating him.

    Several police officers pushed me into a corner and one guy came up and fiercely dragged at my tie until he finally managed to pull it off, and threw it to the floor. The police officers pointed at my nose and coarsely swore at me again, and again they cried, "Do you know where you are? If we beat you, what can you do?"

    After a while, a police officer came in and said that we had been detained because we had gone to Fan Yafeng's home. One officer, who I heard addressed as Xu Ping, went from merely loudly interrogating to roaring accusations at me: "O ho, that's how it is! In that case, you belong to the enemy! F- your mother, you went to see Fan Yafeng! That c-! In that case we don't have to talk about legal constraints at all! And you motherf- won't get out of here again! You traitors, you dogs! Counter-revolutionaries! The Communist Party feeds you and pays you and you still don't acknowledge how good it is! You keep insulting the Party!� We will treat you just like an enemy!"

    I was very curious. "How do you treat your enemies?"

    "Like Falun Gong!"

    "And how do you treat Falun Gong?"

    "You'll find out by and by."

    I felt a pang of horror.

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  • unitednations
    08-02 12:29 PM
    245(i)/245(K) covers only upto 180 days(6 months) of out of status , the possible OOS issues are
    1.Overstay of I-94 card's date
    2.Unauthorized employment
    3.Staying without payslips (with some exceptions like Maternity,paternity,sick)

    http://www.murthy.com/adjsta.html click here for more info.

    USCIS will issue RFE/NOID and ask for explaination OR deny I-485 , I am wondering where this $1000 concept came from?? Correct me if I am wrong

    245k and 245i are two different things.

    245i was sort of an amnesty. If person overstay their i-94 cards for any length of time they can still adjust status to lawful permanent resident as long as they pay the $1,000 penalty.

    Main criteria of 245i is that you had to have an immigrant petition (i-130) or a labor cert filed on behalf of you before April 30, 2001. If you meet this criteria then overstaying or being out of status doesn't matter. However; even if you were eligible for 245i and you had overstayed by more then six months and you left the country then you wouldn't be allowed back in and if they somehow allowed you back in; you wouldn't be able to adjust status because the 3/10 year bars kick in.


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  • Macaca
    12-20 08:07 AM
    Key Setbacks Dim Luster of Democrats' Year (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/19/AR2007121902643.html?hpid=topnews) By Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane | Washington Post, Dec 20, 2007

    The first Democratic-led Congress in a dozen years limped out of Washington last night with a lengthy list of accomplishments, from the first increase in fuel-efficiency standards in a generation to the first minimum-wage hike in a decade.

    But Democrats' failure to address the central issues that swept them to power left even the most partisan of them dissatisfied and Congress mired at a historic low in public esteem.

    Handed control of Congress last year after making promises to end the war in Iraq, restore fiscal discipline in Washington and check President Bush's powers, Democrats instead closed the first session of the 110th Congress yesterday with House votes that sent Bush $70 billion in war funding, with no strings attached, and a $50 billion alternative-minimum-tax measure that shattered their pledge not to add to the federal budget deficit.

    "I'm not going to let a lot of hard work go unnoticed, but I'm not going to hand out party hats, either," said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.).

    On Iraq, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said yesterday: "Nobody is more disappointed with the fact that we couldn't change that than I am." But Pelosi was not about to accept Republican assertions that her first year as speaker has been unsuccessful, saying: "Almost everything we've done has been historic."

    Unable to garner enough votes from their own party, House Democratic leaders had to turn to Republicans to win passage of a $555 billion domestic spending bill after the Senate appended $70 billion to it for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war funding passed 272 to 142, with Democrats voting 141 to 78 against it.

    The Democratic leaders again had to appeal to Republicans to win passage of a measure to stave off the growth of the alternative minimum tax, because fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats were in open revolt and refused to go along. The Blue Dogs insisted that the Senate offset the bill's cost with tax increases on hedge-fund and private-equity managers.

    Needing two-thirds of the House to pass under fast-track rules, the tax measure was approved 352 to 64, with all 64 "no" votes coming from Democrats standing by their pledge not to support any tax cut or mandatory spending increase that would expand the national debt.

    The year's finale angered the entire spectrum of the Democratic coalition, from the antiwar left to new Southern conservatives who helped bring Democrats to power last year.

    "This is a blank check," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). "The new money in this bill represents one cave-in too many. It is an endorsement of George Bush's policy of endless war."

    Still, the Democrats delivered much of what they promised last year. Of the six initiatives on the their "Six for '06" agenda, congressional Democrats sent five to the president and got his signature on four: a minimum-wage increase, implementation of the homeland security recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, college cost reduction, and an energy measure that requires conservation and the expanded use of renewable sources of energy.

    Federal funding for stem cell research was vetoed by Bush.

    Congress also boosted spending on veterans' needs. Just yesterday, Democrats unveiled a proposal to create the first nonpartisan ethics review panel in House history and passed the most significant gun-control legislation since the early 1990s, tightening the instant background-check process.

    Beyond those, Democrats secured the biggest overhaul of ethics and lobbying rules since the Watergate scandal. And they passed a slew of measures that have received little notice, such as more money for math and science teachers who earn more credentials in their field, tax relief for homeowners in foreclosure, a doubling of basic research funding, and reclamation projects for the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast.

    With the exception of the new energy law, Pelosi characterized most of the year's accomplishments as a cleanup after years of Republican neglect or congressional gridlock.

    But the long-awaited showdown with Bush on the federal budget fizzled this week into an uncomfortable draw. The president got his war funding, while Democrats -- using "emergency" funding designations -- broke through his spending limit by $11 billion, the amount they had promised to add after Republicans rejected a proposed $22 billion increase in domestic spending.

    Remarkably, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) praised the final omnibus spending bill in glowing terms, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called keeping federal spending at Bush's preferred level "an extraordinary success."

    "Our work on holding the line on spending gave us an omnibus that is better than I've seen in my 17 years here," Boehner said yesterday. Twelve of those years were spent under Republican rule.

    But the disappointments have dominated the news, in large part because Democrats failed on some of the issues that they had put front and center, and that their key constituents value most.

    The military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, remains open. Bush's warrantless surveillance program was actually codified and expanded on the Democrats' watch. Lawmakers were unable to eliminate the use of harsh interrogation tactics by the CIA.

    Democratic leaders also could not overcome the president's vetoes on an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, despite winning over large numbers of Republicans. Policies that liberals thought would be swept aside under the Democratic majority remain untouched, including a prohibition on U.S. funding for international family-planning organizations that offer abortions.

    Efforts to change Bush's Iraq policies took on the look of Pickett's charge at Gettysburg. From the first days of the 110th Congress to its last hours this week, Bush prevailed on every Iraq-related fight, beginning with February's nonbinding resolution opposing the winter troop buildup and ending with this week's granting of $70 billion in unrestricted war funds. Emanuel tried to call the $70 billion funding a partial Democratic victory because it was the first time the president did not get everything he sought for the war. Bush had requested $200 billion.

    Some senior Democrats have grown so distraught that they do not expect any significant change in Iraq policy unless a Democrat wins the White House in 2008. "It's unfortunate that we may have to wait till the elections," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) said yesterday.

    This has left many Democrats resorting to openly political arguments, picking up a theme that Republicans hurled at them -- obstructionism -- during their many years in the minority. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) conceded that it is time for Democrats to forget about trumpeting accomplishments that voters will never give them credit for -- and time to change the message to a starkly political one: If you want change, elect more Democrats.

    Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the Senate Democratic whip tasked with trying to find 60 votes for a filibuster-proof majority, acknowledged this week that Democrats' biggest failure stemmed from expecting "more Republicans to take an independent stance" on Iraq. Instead, most of them stood with Bush.

    "Many of them will have to carry that with them into the election," Durbin said.

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  • kaisersose
    04-15 02:51 PM
    We are mixing too many different aspects of home buying and creating confusion.

    We buy homes, when we have clearly done our home work and know we can afford what we are buying and our incomes are expected to be reasonably stable. Everyone knows this and no one is arguing against the above logic.

    The points of contention were home life vs. apt life, and home as a home vs. home as an investment. I got into this thread to point out how some people are so obsessed about resale value that to them a home is nothing more than a piece of investment which should appreciate with time and be sold off.

    But these topics appear to be rubbing some people the wrong way as they are hurt to discover that there exist people who do not think the way they do. For that reason, I will lay off this topic.

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  • chintu25
    08-28 09:42 AM
    Two immigrants have just arrived in the United States and one says to the other, I hear that the people of this country actually eat dogs.�

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    05-15 09:11 PM
    No this is not correct. If consultancy companies are not there we could find a permanent job. I do not think if H1b is banned for consulting H1b numbers will be reduced so much. H1b rotation will be reduced. But still TCS, Infosys will survive as they have lot of other options like L1 and B1.But US persons will make more money in consulting as there is no restriction for them. So impact is minimal for US companies and also H1B persons. impact will be severe for bodyshoppers. Also current H1b people will not be impacted as most of them will file I 485 as Skil bill be passed. But H1b abuse will be minimised.

    If consultant companies are not suppose to body shop most of us will be jobless. Please look back how you came to this country in the past.
    Body shopping in not a new concept for H1-B, don't know why they are concered now.

    09-30 09:31 PM
    he is going to delay my GC further. Simple .I cannot vote but I would rather give my money to McCain if he is a better help in getting GC faster or atleast does not delay it any further.

    I am surprised at the arguments like "I know Obama will hamper our GC further but he is such good talker that my kids future will be safe "

    At best Obama will turn out yet another democrat pres . I doubt if he can match Clinton ...he will be more on Carter lines. Either way I could,nt care less.

    I guess it's time we focus only on our selfish needs ..which is GC ....why would something else be important in next 4 years for this community ...nothing else should matter ...

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