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  • gjoe
    07-15 06:55 AM
    I would like to first applaud Pani for this effort. I strongly support his initative. I think his letter is original and from his heart. It is more authentic and human than what some on this forum are suggesting here. I think his gut feeling on this one is more important than the calculated steps IV has been taking so far.
    These kind of authentic letters from members like pani would give IV a more strong foundation to focus their energy. I think all those who want to write letters to the President, Senator, Congressmen, USCIS, DOL, DOS, DOJ, etc should do so and also should write the letter on their own instead of copying one. The reasons, sentiments and purpose will add more flavour to the whole thing. I would go one step further to suggest that some should write the letter in Spanish, French, Mandarin, Hindi, Urdu, etc, etc, if they think that they can express themselves better in their own language.
    Pani once again I would like to say that you are doing the right thing.

    PS: When the ship is sinking everyone wants to escape but the one who is aggresive to save himself has more chance of living than the other who is waiting for someone to save him.

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  • xyzgc
    12-28 03:48 PM
    While I would love India to retaliate in some fashion on Paki soil to show them that there are going to be consequences for messing on Indian soil, I think this is not the time to strike overtly on Pakistan however.

    Why now is not the right time?

    Because this whole War hysteria is mostly being whipped by one side - Pakistan. Immediately after Mumbai atrocities there were street protests organized by Islamic fundoos like Jamat-ud-Dawa, JeM, etc in major cities in Pak to protest against India. They were supposedly protesting because India is going to attack Pakistan! Most Indians were amused at that time as they were busy attacking their own politicians at that time for their Intelligence failures. This shows to some extent that something else is going on here and Pakistan army or elements within it want tensions on Indian border.

    Why will they want that on Indian border in case it boils over into a war that they will never win? Because the Americans on Pak's western border are putting a lot of pressure on Paki Army to attack the Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalist nut cases that their own Intelligence arm - ISI - has helped train and arm. These nut cases are their assets for all the covert attacks on India to keep it tied down in Kashmir and elsewhere.

    Besides they know that India will never attack and even if they did the International community will be pissing in their pants (including US) about the prospects of Nuclear armageddon and come to Pakis' rescue with a ceasefire call. Zardari and his Civilian Govt. Institutions will take the blame in Pakistan for succumbing to international pressure and stopping the brave Paki army from decimating kafir/powerless Indians. Army will announce a coup promising more security against India and overthrow Zardari/Gilani or whoever and entrench themselves again back in power for another decade.

    What will America do?

    US and rest of the world while shaking with fear about the nuclear war that was averted will start focusing foolishly (or maybe for their own clandestine gain) on Kashmir as the core issue and pressure India to give it freedom! What more does Paki army need? India-Pak hypenation is back so that Pakis feel important in International circles again. Tensions alive on their Eastern border to keep the army as center of focus and power internally in Pakistan. Covert terrorism in Kashmir will again resume with all the international attention on it, and Indian army and diplomacy is tied down there, and all the Taliban and other Islamic nut cases that they trained and armed have a cause to give up their worthless lives and not be fighting the Paki army for achieving their goal of going to heaven for quality time with some virgins.

    Besides Americans dont care if Kashmir is blowing up - infact they would love to see an independant state their to get a leg firmly in South Asia.

    So what should India do?

    Not go to war overtly now. Start covert operations inside Pakistan on war footing and start funding and support for Balochi, Sindi, Mohajir, Pushtun, Baltistan freedom movements inside Pakistan. If there is any other terrorist attack in India, activate these people inside Pakistan to blow up their prime targets - Muridke headquarters of Jaamat-ud-Dawa for instance. Assinations of ISI officers, encourage suicide attacks on their army camps, cantonments. In other words make them feel the cost of any further attacks inside India, but covertly. And also take the covert proxy war to their soil.

    For now, India should not attack Pakistan and give their army an excuse to squirm away from fighting their own created Franenstein monster - Islamic Jehadists on Western border. Indian army should sit back, relax and let the Paki army take their own creation on their Western front.

    I hope the internal politics inside India dont come in the way of the above goal.

    Covert operations are also war. Read war as concrete steps to curb this terrorism. Terrorist camps may be moving targets, identify them using intelligence and eliminate them. India is already at war, the world is also at war with Terrorism. Its a global issue - at the very least your coworkers are going to be concerned about business trips to India, if this is not nipped in the bud.

    Here's a thought - India should start manufacturing and exporting armaments.
    We can also export some artillery to Pakistan and invest the profits wisely. That way defence budgets go down and the funds can be used for improving national security (e.g: junk the British Raj rifles Bombay police use, provide them better bullet-proof vests and helmets), humanitarian causes and so on.We can offer it at competitive prices so that Pakistan doesn't have to rely on the Chinese, the Russians and the Americans. And we don't rely on the Israelis and the Americans.
    India can be part of a profitable armament race and build a nation of defence contractors.
    It will also give a boost to allied manufacturing industries in India, generate employment, so that they can also contribute to India's GDP in a big way.

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  • IL_Guy
    06-08 11:42 AM
    [QUOTE. Life would be boring playing safe.[/QUOTE]

    Thats me, man! I tried both options "playing safe" and "daring out". I liked the later one better. I'm a H1-B, I owned a home for last five years and I'm absolutely happy.

    My thoughts are that you should take risks in life (Home, Stocks...etc) until you are 40, you may win some and lose some. If you lose, you still have time to recover...either in US or your home country, at least you tried.


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  • go_guy123
    07-28 03:39 PM
    Asain-Americans seems to favor Obama overwhelmingly as per this survey. its interesting to read the survey - these immigrants who have gone thru the process themselves and might have friends/relatives in the process - didnt mention immigration as one of their important topic to decide on the vote. Understandably economy is the top topic but was expecting to see immigration atleast behind economy.
    POLITICS-US: Asian Americans Tilt Heavily Toward Obama - IPS ipsnews.net (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44144)

    Bulk come through family based/asylum etc and very little come through skilled immigration. As H1B you are better off with GOP.
    GOP wants to restrict the family based as well....source of chain immigration.


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  • logiclife
    04-07 01:01 PM
    One possible solution is to establish a separate quotas for companies perfoming R&D in the US. Something like this already exists in the tax code where companies establish eligibility for the R&D tax credit. A similar bar could be used to administer a R&D quota for H1B or GC. That should address concerns around the quota for top US companies.

    Research institutes hiring employees for research are already exempt from H1 quota. So are non-profits and universities.

    What are you talking about?

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  • jung.lee
    04-05 10:29 AM

    I have been reading this thread with a lot of interest and could not hold back from commenting on the unbridled optimism many of you guys are showing towards the housing market, which reminds me of the "long tailed" euphoria that followed long after the NASDAQ had crashed over 50% in 2001 after the tech bubble, and people kept wishing it would come back long after it became clear to most cynical observers that it would take decades to achieve the same levels as before (and it hasn't yet)...

    Housing has not yet bottomed. It still has a long way to go. You guys may think that the foreclosures related to subprime resets have subsided so the market may recover. You haven't seen anything yet. Consider:




    Option ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) and Alt-A ARMs are the next two shoes to drop. In case you've had your head buried in the sand, the economy is on verge of a collapse. Unemployment is soaring and many more companies are considering layoffs. Many economic observers are opining that we are already in recession.

    Desi junta, and others, I entreat you readers to please consider this seriously in your house purchase decisions. If for some reason you need to sell and move out, at a minimum you will be saving some money (by not losing your downpayment, for example) by choosing to rent. Rent a house/townhouse from a private owner if you are tired of renting an apartment and have growing kids - it's a "renters market" in the private rental marketplace right now with so many investment properties purchased during the housing bubble available for rent.

    I would like to offer up a few blogs, whose commentators should be taken seriously. I recommend you read and bookmark the following blogs if you want to follow the housing market and the economy:





    I like this website for people just starting out to get more financially educated (in an entertaining way):


    Good luck and please be careful before 'taking the plunge!'


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  • file485
    07-07 11:06 PM
    I have a .pdf file as to how the 485 files are processed right from the time we mail the packets until they r adjucticated..it is from ilw.com..

    I cant attach the pdf file,probably it is too big..

    pls get in touch with that attorney too..

    dont lose heart,there should be some way around..only thing is catch hold of a good lawyer..don't wast time with company attorneys

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  • chintu25
    08-05 10:07 AM
    :DGuys ,
    The "mahaul"(environment) seems so Tense around the IV forums that I thought of making a thread to share some light humor / Jokes etc

    Here are some funny quotes to start with

    I don't think President fully understands this immigration thing.
    Like today, when they asked him about amnesty, he said it's horrible
    when anyone loses their memory." --Jay Leno

    "As you know, today was Don't Take Your Immigrant To Work Day
    here in Los Angeles. No, all across the nation they had a Day Without
    Immigrants, is what they call it. Or, as Native Americans call it, the
    good ol' days." --Jay Leno


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  • GCBatman
    01-06 12:42 PM
    Discussion of non EB related issues should be stopped.
    This form should be used for employment related immigration issues, end of discussion.
    I have given you green for it.

    I think we discuss these kind of news in IV. Don't you know that?

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  • thakurrajiv
    03-26 10:13 AM
    These banks, Mortgage companies and realtors - The whole nexus of sharks have made refinance almost impossible since last week.. Any body else noticed that? What happened is as soon as FED cut down the rate this nexus dramatically reduces the price 10 - 15%. If you go to zillow, you would find at least 10% reduction published for almost every home with comparison to 5 days before... Something is cooking up.. I do not know what it may be...At least for VA, MD, DC based homes I see this pattern. It looks like, lenders do not want to invite refinances.. and that is scary. Even most sites shows the list of properties with less value under " property sold last in 6 months" and make the properties disappeared which wer sold with reasonable price. I noticed this pattern for many bank alerts as well. So now the real picture you can get from is the county database only to fight these sharks. Are they trying to divert all to government loans (FHA?)... watch out.
    I posted a few messages in another thread on macroeconomic issues. As you found out, a lot of people don't understand the severity of credit crunch. If you have lot of cash, yes you have a big advantage, go and invest. Even if you get it wrong for next 5 years, you will be ok.
    But for people who want to do this on borrowed money, credit crunch will hit you. The credit crunch will get worse. Whole mortgage industry will change, things will tighten. This just means something has to give up, which is house price.
    If you are already not in a house, wait as you might be able to buy at much lower prices. Jump into RE as investment now only if you have enough cash to sustain upto 30% drop in home prices !!


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  • new2gc
    03-24 04:42 PM
    No, they figured out that it is consulting companies that are exploiting loopholes. Tell me what proof you have that ALL consulting companies are complying with H-1B requriements.

    Is benching that happens in consulting legal? Is paying salary according to prevailing wages in Maine and sending the contractor to work in Manhattan legal? Please tell me how these practises by desi consulting firms are legal.

    And you're telling me I am ignorant! You're funny :D

    I am sorry, I am not a very knowledgeable person in immigration matters like many of you, but when it comes to finger pointing, we have to show all consulting companies and why only DESI companies are getting into this discussion. I know friends who worked for IBM & KPMG on H1b travels to all states for short term contracts. What about those biggies? They are also desi firms?

    How did you come to US in the first place? if not thru a consulting company ( I know F1 is another option) either thru big companies like TCS, Wipro or Infy or through desi consulting firms. Pls do not forget the fact that USCIS changed their stand now and saying that it is not legal to work else where other than employer location. If they implement that rule from start then this mess wouldn't happen.

    Now, we are in trouble and so stop finger pointing and give any good advise if you can.

    FYI..I am an FTE and I came to us thru a multinational firm and never worked for a desi consulting cmpny.

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  • mariner5555
    04-14 02:09 PM
    It is not going down everywhere...I am in a location where people are buying houses like mad and the prices are actually better than last year.

    And yet, some people in my location are thinking about nothing but resale. They are not able to see a home as anything other than an investment and I am referring to such people in my earlier post.
    ofcourse it is not going down everywhere. but it is going down in majority of the places that were polled. you are right home is not (and won't be an investment for a long time). In the end if you are desperate for more space (or if you get a super offer and have permanent status) etc then buy but if you are a person who doesnot want to pay more for an item than it is worth ...then wait. (especially if you are on EAD or H1).
    also some feel (And say to others) that they have to rush to buy since many say it is a best time to buy and prices will go high v.soon ..the answer to this is a big No. (prices won't go up any time soon ..instead it will fall some more. and in most locations there will always be plenty of houses for sale).


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  • lfwf
    08-05 06:49 PM
    I think it is all subjective. You ask “Do years spent doing MS/Phd have no value?”. A person who has 5+ years experience will ask “Do years spent working have no value?”.

    Just think of a scenario where a person who right after finishing a degree gets into masters because he had money and another decides to work for whatever reason (he could not afford could be one reason), The former finishes his MS and applies GC right away, how can the latter person who waits for an extra three years and apply get ahead of the former?.

    Now you might say “ No dude, I did not have money, I worked for 2 years and then got into MS”, like I said it is all subjective. You pick a case that augurs well for your argument and I chose a scenario to counter yours.

    I think it is fair to equate 5 years of work experience (remember, to qualify for EB2 you need to have PROGRESSIVE work experience, you need to show some progress/advancement in that 5 years) with 2+ years of MS. I had more than 5 years of experience and I applied in EB2 and now I am doing my masters. Will I withdraw my GC application and wait to apply after I do my masters?. Hell no.

    I believe you missed the entire point.
    YES the people with work expereince can ask that question- and in fact they ARE getting the benefit of those years.
    Now, answer the question- why are the years spent in MS/PhD not getting any credit?
    Whether you have money or not is irrelevant nonsense. This is like complaining that you are married so cannot have a girlfriend- that is your problem pal. Make your own choices, don't blame others for them. What does it have to do with immigration lines?

    I'll answer for you since you refuse to be objective.

    The benefit of doing an advanced degree was placed in law as the ability to get a job in a higher preference category. That takes care of the lost years in getting a PD. When a person in EB3 becomes eligible for EB2, that's great, he/she gets to reapply and move to EB2 and take the benefit of the improved GC cut off dates. At this point if this person ALSO ports an old PD based on the years of work, which others in the EB2 category cannot use (they were training) it becomes a disproportionate advantage.

    If you and I both came in 2000, and I did a PhD and you worked..(this is not that far from my story- so it's not completely fictional), your PD might be 2002 and mine may be 2007. Now you are as close to current in EB3 as I am in EB2. Now if you jump to EB2 without porting), you would be 2008 (or even 2006) and given faster movement in EB2 you benefit. If you jump with porting, I'm totally screwed. You are way ahead of me simply because I chose to get the degree. Does it begin to make any sense? You are asking for the ability to get a GC because you have waited "x years". So HAVE I!!!!
    Except that my PD does not reflect it like yours. If you still insist you have first right...well that's your opinion.

    I'm posting this mainly to frame the debate properly. All I hear from most people is innuendo and accusation. Everyone but the poster is a fraud, while the poor EB3 poster is genuine and cheated. What rubbish! There is some basis for angst over porting dates, just as there is basis for angst over people being stuck in EB3 because their employers chose it that way.

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  • Macaca
    05-15 06:05 PM
    Why Worry? It�s Good for You (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/business/economy/15view.html) By ROBERT H. FRANK | New York Times

    THE late Amos Tversky, a Stanford psychologist and a founding father of behavioral economics, used to say, �My colleagues, they study artificial intelligence; me, I study natural stupidity.�

    In recent decades, behavioral economics has been the economics profession�s runaway growth area. Scholars in this field work largely at the intersection of economics and psychology, and much of their attention has focused on systematic biases in people�s judgments and decisions.

    They point out, for example, that people are particularly inept at predicting how changes in their life circumstances will affect their happiness. Even when the changes are huge � positive or negative � most people adapt much more quickly and completely than they expected.

    Such prediction errors, behavioral economists argue, often lead to faulty decisions. A celebrated example describes an assistant professor at a distinguished university who agonizes for years about whether he will be promoted. Ultimately, his department turns him down. As anticipated, he�s abjectly miserable � but only for a few months. The next year, he�s settled in a new position at a less selective university, and by all available measures is as happy as he�s ever been.

    The ostensible lesson is that if this professor had been acquainted with the relevant evidence, he�d have known that it didn�t make sense to fret about his promotion in the first place � that he would have been happier if he hadn�t. But that�s almost surely the wrong lesson, because failing to fret probably would have made him even less likely to get the promotion. And promotions often matter in ways that have little impact on day-to-day levels of happiness.

    Paradoxically, our prediction errors often lead us to choices that are wisest in hindsight. In such cases, evolutionary biology often provides a clearer guide than cognitive psychology for thinking about why people behave as they do.

    According to Charles Darwin, the motivational structures within the human brain were forged by natural selection over millions of years. In his framework, the brain has evolved not to make us happy, but to motivate actions that help push our DNA into the next round. Much of the time, in fact, the brain accomplishes that by making us unhappy. Anxiety, hunger, fatigue, loneliness, thirst, anger and fear spur action to meet the competitive challenges we face.

    As the late economist Tibor Scitovsky said in �The Joyless Economy,� pleasure is an inherently fleeting emotion, one we experience while escaping from emotionally aversive states. In other words, pleasure is the carrot that provokes us to extricate ourselves from such states, but it almost always fades quickly.

    The human brain was formed by relentless competition in the natural world, so it should be no surprise that we adapt quickly to changes in circumstances. Much of life, after all, is graded on the curve. Someone who remained permanently elated about her first promotion, for example, might find it hard to muster the drive to compete for her next one.

    Emotional pain is fleeting, too. Behavioral economists often note that while people who become physically paralyzed experience the expected emotional devastation immediately after their accidents, they generally bounce back surprisingly quickly. Within six months, many have a daily mix of moods similar to their pre-accident experience.

    This finding is often interpreted to mean that becoming physically disabled isn�t as bad as most people imagine it to be. The evidence, however, strongly argues otherwise. Many paraplegics, for instance, say they�d submit to a mobility-restoring operation even if its mortality risk were 50 percent.

    The point is that when misfortune befalls us, it�s not helpful to mope around endlessly. It�s far better, of course, to adapt as quickly as possible and to make the best of the new circumstances. And that�s roughly what a brain forged by the ruthless pressures of natural selection urges us to do.

    All of this brings us back to our decisions about how hard we should work � choices that have important implications for the lives we are able to lead.

    Most people would love to have a job with interesting, capable colleagues, a high level of autonomy and ample opportunities for creative expression. But only a limited number of such jobs are available � and it�s our fretting that can motivate us to get them.

    Within limits, worry about success causes students to study harder to gain admission to better universities. It makes assistant professors work harder to earn tenure. It leads film makers to strive harder to create the perfect scene, and songwriters to dig deeper for the most pleasing melody. In every domain, people who work harder are more likely to succeed professionally, more likely to make a difference.

    THE anxiety we feel about whether we�ll succeed is evolution�s way of motivating us. And the evidence is clear that most of us don�t look back on our efforts with regret, even if our daily mix of emotions ultimately doesn�t change.

    But evolutionary theory also counsels humility about personal good fortune. As Darwin saw clearly, individual and collective interests don�t always coincide. A good job is an inherently relative concept, and while the person who lands one benefits enormously, her lucky break means that some other equally deserving person didn�t get that job.

    When people work harder, income grows. But much of the spending that comes from extra income just raises the bar that defines adequate. So, from society�s perspective, some of the anxiety over who gets what jobs may be excessive after all. But that�s very different from saying that people shouldn�t worry about succeeding.

    Robert H. Frank is an economics professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

    Your So-Called Education (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/opinion/15arum.html) By RICHARD ARUM and JOSIPA ROKSA | New York Times
    Major Delusions (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/opinion/15Sharot.html) By TALI SHAROT | New York Times
    Personal finance tips for graduates (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/personal-finance-tips-for-graduates/2011/05/08/AFYfQf3G_story.html) By Michelle Singletary | The Washington Post
    Outlook's Third Annual Spring Cleaning List (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/opinions/outlook/spring-cleaning-2011/) The Washington Post
    Five myths about internships (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-interns/2011/05/09/AFbWmT2G_story.html) By Ross Perlin | The Washington Post
    When Fear Stifles Initiative (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/jobs/15pre.html) By ROBERT W. GOLDFARB | New York Times


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  • SunnySurya
    08-05 10:58 AM
    I most definitely do. But all depends who needs the most help and what expense. If you ask me to donate a Kidney if my one my Kidney is already failing, I most likely will not help.
    But if you ask me for some other cause where I am not affected. I will definitly help. You would be doing the same things if your were in my shoes. If not atleast thinking the same things.

    So, you don't believe in helping others.

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  • nojoke
    04-08 02:54 PM
    Who said that if you buy a house today you will lose 100k this year and the in the next?. Where does it say so?. How did you come up with that figure?. Which fruit picker earning 20k bought a house worth 500k without a down payment?. Giving analogies and examples are fine, but try to make it more realistic. You are accusing somebody of misleading people, but look at what you are saying. Don’t try to scare people.

    This might not be the right time to buy a house. After a couple of years when things start to look bright, then again you will come up with an excuse to not buy a house. Looks like you and alberto pinto might want to spend the rest of your lives in an apartment. That is fine too if that is what you guys want.

    Keeping this thread alive has become Mr Pinto’s mission, it doesn’t matter if the person who opened this thread has already made a decision and moved on...
    I am sorry, the housing will fall by 99K every year and not 100K. So you can predict how much the housing will fall and not us. If you can predict that housing will not fall down why shouldn't I. 100K is just a round figure. It can be 60K or 160K per year.
    You asked for which fruit picker. Here is one---And before you accuse me of making up the story here is the link
    http://hollisterfreelance.com/news/contentview.asp?c=213141. Google and you will find more such cases.
    "Despite making only $14,000 a year, strawberry picker Alberto Ramirez managed to buy his own slice of the American Dream. But his Hollister home came with a hefty price tag - $720,000.

    A year and a half later, Ramirez has defaulted on his loan, and he's hoping to sell the house before it's repossessed. And according to many housing advocates and civil rights groups, Ramirez is not alone. As mortgage foreclosures rise, many minorities are suffering.

    Brown said the language barrier (Ramirez, a native Spanish speaker, is not fluent in English, and spoke to the Free Lance through a translator) can also play a big role.

    "When you go into Washington Mutual ... you can't always get someone to speak your language," she said.

    "The real estate boom covered a multitude of sins," Simmons said. "Once the market started depreciating, the rug was pulled back to show the rot underneath.""


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  • StuckInTheMuck
    08-06 12:30 PM
    all until the one going down hits a trampoline and the one going up hits a ceiling. Then they reverse course. The trampoline and ceiling are the visa bulletins:
    Neat :)

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  • paskal
    07-08 08:46 PM
    I have been here 11 years. 4 different employers.
    I have all my returns and W2's
    why in the world would i keep every paystub?
    makes no sense. of course little does.

    UN thanks for the comments.
    any predictions on where we are headed? my vested interest is in EB2 india...

    btw why is everyone presuming that the 60,000 approvals went to India and China? EB3 ROW is retrogressed- all the extra numbers could have gone there. that would in any case be all the better for india/china in the longer term- the faster that backlog is finished, the greater the chance india/china lines will show meaningful movement.

    also did you notice the cantwell-kyl compromise amendment in the failed CIR 2007 had a provision for 485 filing w/o visa numbers current?

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  • hiralal
    06-06 10:58 PM
    to buy another house (if it is not distress property / from auction) just to put it on rent is stupidity ..risk is good if it is calculated ..to take foolish risk is foolishness ..anyway that is me. In this Country land is virtually unlimited !!! demand is low (see immigration ..they give majority GC's to people when they are 50 - 60 years old) and those who are young have smaller families because of high cost of living, way of living.
    to buy a house to put it on rent is big loss as there are millions of houses already competing for renters
    ONE more reason for those who are on H1/ EAD is that 90% of then job postings on DICE and other places ask for only citizens or GC holders.

    08-26 10:34 PM
    This is hilarious........


    05-30 05:44 PM
    What Will It Take for Companies to Unlock Their Cash Hoards? (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303654804576349282770703112.html) By JASON ZWEIG | Wall Street Journal

    There is a cash crisis in corporate America�although it comes not from a shortage of the stuff, but from a surplus.

    In the first quarter, the five companies with the greatest cash hoards�Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Google, Apple and Johnson & Johnson�added $15 billion in cash and marketable securities to their balance sheets. Microsoft alone packed away roughly $9 billion, or $100 million a day. All told, the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index are sitting on more than $960 billion in cash, a record.

    To be sure, at many companies the cash piling up is at global operations that generate "undistributed foreign earnings" that can't be brought home, under U.S. law, without incurring taxes of up to 35%. But hundreds of billions in cash remain available�and idle.

    Meanwhile, the payout ratio�the proportion of earnings paid out as dividend income to shareholders�fell to 28.9% for the past four quarters. That, says S&P senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt, is the lowest level since 1936. Dividends are going up�Intel, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint have recently raised them�but cash is still piling up far faster than most industrial giants can possibly find a prudent use for it. Of course, investors themselves might have a better use for the cash, if they could get at it.

    As Daniel Peris, co-manager of the Federated Strategic Value Dividend fund, says, "The likelihood of spending money poorly is increased by having a surplus of it."

    Microsoft's purchase price for the online telecommunications firm Skype, widely criticized as too rich at $8.5 billion, almost precisely matches the amount of cash that Microsoft raked in last quarter. Was that torrent of cash burning a hole in Microsoft's pocket?

    "No way," says Bill Koefoed, general manager of investor relations at Microsoft. "We see this as being a very strategic acquisition."

    The heart of the problem, as the great investor Benjamin Graham pointed out decades ago, is that the best interests of corporate management and outside investors are at odds. That is especially true for giant companies whose growth has been slowing. "The more dubious the company's prospects�the more anxious management is to retain all the cash it can in the business," Graham wrote. "But the stockholders would be well advised to take out all the capital that can be safely spared, because these funds are much more valuable to them if in their own pockets, or invested elsewhere."

    Amnesia is another culprit. In the past, companies paid out vastly more of their profits as dividends, and they should again. "If there were a greater historical sensibility among investors and managers," Mr. Peris says, today's low payouts "would be called out as an abnormal situation that's likely to lead to that money being less well-spent than it otherwise might be."

    Dividends have gotten short shrift in recent years as investors have come to favor companies that instead use cash surpluses to buy back their shares. Meanwhile, with the economic recovery barely out of the sickbed, many companies are reluctant to invest heavily in expansion. Others want to keep cash handy for potential acquisitions. So cash sits idle�even as interest rates, after inflation, are so low that cash often produces negative real returns.

    Benjamin Graham made three simple proposals in 1951 that deserve to be revived.

    First, investors need to realize that a company's cash is a valuable asset, even when interest rates are low; if management won't put it to good use, investors must speak up. As Graham wrote: "When the results on capital are unsatisfactory, it is appropriate for stockholders to�insist that it be returned to stockholders on an equitable basis."

    Second, companies should set formal dividend policies. Rather than paying or raising dividends out of the blue, they should state in advance what proportion of earnings they expect to pay out as cash dividends. If, instead, they plan to use excess cash to buy back shares, they should offer hard evidence that the stock is undervalued.

    Finally, Graham advocated that leading companies should pay out two-thirds of their earnings as dividends. That rate isn't as radical as it might sound, even though it would amount to more than a doubling from today's levels. The dividend payout, as a percentage of total profits, has averaged 52.3% since 1936 and 46% over the past two decades, according to Standard & Poor's.

    If the companies in the S&P 500 raised their payout ratio to 50%, Mr. Silverblatt estimates, that would put an extra $207 billion into investors' pockets�at a time when shareholders' dividend income is taxed at historically low rates.

    "Companies are basically earning more than they've ever made before, but their payouts are nowhere near that high," says Mr. Silverblatt. "They're holding their cash really tight. You can call them Scrooges if you want."

    A Generation of Slackers? Not So Much (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/weekinreview/29graduates.html) By CATHERINE RAMPELL | The New York Times
    Made in America: Manufacturing Jobs Are Coming Home (http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2011/05/26/Made-in-America-Manufacturing-Jobs-Are-Coming-Home.aspx) By Patrick Smith | Fiscal Times

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