给我州参议员Dick Durbin的一封信

胡哥访美结束,我对双方做出的关于加强两国人民的交流的共识很有兴趣。要消除隔阂和偏见,没有别的好办法,只能通过人们之间的交流和互动。政客和记者们想放大人民之间的不同,吸引眼球,构建“外人”的怪异、卑鄙、和有威胁感的可怕形象。但从我自身的体会,只要人们的交流和互动增多,会发现虽然我们有种族、文化、语言、外表、风俗和其他方面的等等不同,但我们的相同远远大于不同:我们都是人,我们都追求尊重、理解、和宽容,还有那个叫幸福的东西。有了这个切身体会,这种同理心,或者说empathy,人与人之间的交流就会更顺畅,就会有眼界和心胸来打开局面,解决我们之间的问题。

我希望两国政府都能把这个共识落到实处,给两国人民的签证带来方便。我本人以前就深受签证难之苦。去年我给我州的参议员迪克-得斌(Dick Durbin)写过信,希望他能问询和促进这个问题的解决。他的工作人员后给我回信,很多套话,我非常不满意。晒出来给大家看看。

我同时也希望中国政府给美国人(实际上任何一个国家的人士)签证提供方便。我去过中国驻芝加哥领馆多次,感到那里的工作人员的效率和态度很不错。但我也听到了一些美国朋友在获取工作签证的难处。希望政府能研究和改善这个流程,能欢迎各国的人士来到中国。

电邮,2010年7月28日
Dear Senator Durbin,

My name is Haidong Ji. I am a naturalized US citizen, residing in (township omitted here), Illinois. I became a US citizen on July 5th, 2008, in time for the 2008 general election, where I cast my ballots for Democratic, Republican, and Green Party candidates, which was nice. With the mid-term election coming up, I am collecting info regarding candidates and their positions to make an informed decision when I vote.

One thing that is of particular importance to me is the US-China relationship. Specifically, I’d like to see us making changes with regards to visa and entry permits to Chinese citizens with valid H-1B (and H-4 for spouse and dependents), J-1 (and J2 for spouse and dependents), and F1 (and F2 for spouse and dependents) visas.

Here is what I know of the current policy. Up until middle of July, 2010, for a valid H-1B visa holder with Chinese citizenship, from the day that H-1B/H-4 status is granted, that person is allowed 2 entries to the US for the first 3 months. If said Chinese person leaves the US for whatever reason more than 2 times within those first 3 months or after the first 3 months, the individual will have to apply for permission to enter the US, even if the H-1B/H-4 is still valid for a total duration of 3 years. I’ve learned recently that the 3-month 2 entries arrangement has been expanded to 12-month multiple entries. In my opinion that is not enough.

F1 and F2 visa holders does not fare any better. During university summer and winter breaks, a valid F1/F2 Chinese student will have to apply for permission to enter the US if s/he visits home and family.

I have experienced all of the above. I came to the US in 1995 on F1 visa, and didn’t go back to China to visit my family during graduate school years. The visa and reentry restriction was a significant factor. After school, I started working on H-1B status, got engaged, and visited my in-laws in Sweden. When it was time to come back to the US, I went to the American Embassy in Stockholm to apply for entry permit. I don’t recall all the details now, but suffice it to say that I couldn’t get it in time, and I did remember the rude and brash attitude displayed by the Embassy staff. Therefore I had to adjust my flight and applied for extension to stay in Sweden longer.

Then my son was born and grandma in Sweden was dying of cancer. My wife flew back with a less than 3-month old to say goodbye and for grandma to see the grandchild. I didn’t go along, due to the fear of being rejected of an entry permit, even when I have a perfectly valid visa!

Every single year we have ten of thousands of Chinese students studying in the US on F-1 or J-1, and also a lot of Chinese nationals working in high tech and R&D on H-1B. We also see a lot of Americans working and studying in China. This is all fantastic, if you ask me. However, the entry restrictions on these Chinese nationals means long period of not seeing family and friends, 8 years, in my case. Combining that with the necessary adjustment of language, culture, and social norm, the entry restrictions imposes a real hardship on them, as my personal experience attests.

We are a country of immigrants. And I firmly believe our diversity is the greatest strength of America. To let some bureaucratic process impose undue hardship on people with perfect legal status, I think we can do better than that. Not to mention that China is such an important partner to us that we should do everything within reason to encourage the travel, study, business, and non-governmental exchanges between our two people.

So I’d really appreciate it if you could inquire this matter with relevant governmental agencies, and see if they can remove/lessen the entry restrictions on Chinese citizens with F-1, F-2, H-1B, H-4, J-1, and J-2 visas.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Haidong Ji

收据回复,2010年8月5日
Dear Friend:

Thank you for your email. I appreciate hearing from you.

We are experiencing a high volume of incoming emails, but every message is
read by my staff and If you live in Illinois we will provide a response
as soon as possible.

I appreciate your comments. Thank you again for contacting me.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

空话连篇的最终回复,2010年11月3日,特别提到他如何“保护”本土美国人的就业。玩H-1B猫腻的当然有,但人家就是政客,悄无声息地就把概念偷换了,最后还能倒打一耙。

November 3, 2010

Dear Mr. Ji:

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for the H-1B and L-1 visa programs. I appreciate hearing from you.

The H-1B visa program provides for the temporary admission of foreign professional workers, including highly skilled technology workers, to the United States. The program is extremely popular with businesses in the technology industry. The L-1 visa program permits companies to transfer existing foreign employees to U.S. offices for a period of up to seven years.

In considering visa programs, we must promote measures that cultivate a strong, well-educated American workforce and enhance the ability of the United States to compete in the global economy. For many years, the United States has both nurtured a highly skilled domestic workforce and attracted the best talent from countries around the world. Countless immigrants have made significant contributions to America’s scientific, literary, artistic, cultural, and economic resources. That is why I have supported reasonable levels of legal permanent employment-based and family-based immigration.

The H-1B visa program provides American employers with thousands of well-educated temporary workers. We must ensure that the H-1B visa program is not adversely affecting the ability of Americans to find work.

On April 23rd, I introduced the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act (S. 887), which would add protections for qualified American workers to the H-1B and L-1 visa programs while also permitting needed foreign workers to be employed in the United States.

The bill would require that an employer make a good faith effort to recruit American workers before giving jobs to visa holders. Before an employer could submit an H-1B visa application, the employer would be required to advertise the job for 30 days on the Department of Labor (DOL) website. The bill also would give the DOL the ability to conduct random audits to ensure that any company that uses the H-1B program and any company with 100 or more workers, with 15 percent or more of these workers with H-1B visas, do not abuse the program.

To ensure that companies are not undercutting American workers by paying substandard wages to H-1B and L-1 workers, the proposed legislation would require employers to pay foreign employees the prevailing U.S. wage. The bill also would prohibit companies that employ more than 50 people from hiring or outsourcing additional H-1B employees if more than 50 percent of existing employees are H-1B visa holders.

My legislation would protect American workers from being placed at a competitive disadvantage in the job market by H-1B and L-1 visa workers. Major portions of the bill were included in the comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007. Unfortunately, that legislation was not passed by the Senate.

I also have helped craft a proposal that was incorporated into the competitiveness bill that became law to provide grants to domestic students who pursue a degree in science, mathematics, engineering, or a foreign language.

In the context of comprehensive reform, I am open to a discussion about the size of the visa program if the program is reformed to protect American workers and prevent abuses by employers.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please feel free to keep in touch.
Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

RJD/ab

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