06 August 2007

US States pass new immigration laws

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State governments in the USA have introduced record numbers of new immigration laws in the first four months of 2007, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

More than 1,400 immigrant-related bills and resolutions have been introduced and 170 of the legislative proposals have been enacted. That's more than twice the number as last year.

Following the failure of the federal government to overhaul the immigration laws, state-level lawmaking on the issue has soared, with many of the measures related to the problem of illegal immigration.

The US government has been trying to address the immigration laws since President Bush called for a comprehensive overhaul in 2003. The law has not been properly re-examined since the mid-1980s.

A bill proposed by a bipartisan group of senators to create a guest worker programme was supported by President Bush but has collapsed because of conservative objections. Another proposal that faltered at the last hurdle was the attempt to make American immigration more skills-focussed, using a points system to establish the value of a migrant in the same manner as the Australian visa system. Unfortunately, this proposal also fell apart before it could become legislation.

It now seems unlikely a bill could be passed before the 2008 elections.

Anyone applying for an American visa should begin by taking Visa Bureau's online assessment to see if they meet the basic legislative requirements.

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