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calendar   Saturday - June 30, 2012

former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner granted immigration status for ‘extraordinary ability

Whatcha think?

Heck, I don’t suppose our immigration Tzars make exceptions for someone who’d already lived and worked in the states and collects social security and who never even got so much as a parking ticket, and who has been married to an American for 44 years; I don’t suppose our immigration folks would be too impressed with that.  And they aren’t as our readers know.
For those who don’t, that’s the biggest reason this American is still here.  Well, one of the reasons.  Truthfully, after the last episode at LAX, I don’t think the wife is anxious to be interviewed by the KGB again.


Should Playboy Playmate have received ‘Genius’ Visa? Controversy after former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner granted status for ‘extraordinary ability’

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

image

Shera Bechard, the Canadian-born former girlfriend of Playboy Enterprises founder Hugh Hefner, would not be an obvious candidate for the special visas that the U.S. government reserves for ‘individuals with extraordinary ability’.

Playboy magazine crowned Bechard Miss November in 2010, and she also started an online photo-sharing craze called ‘Frisky Friday’.

Neither seems quite on the level of an ‘internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize’, which the government cites as a possible qualification.

But Los Angeles immigration lawyer Chris Wright argued that Bechard’s accomplishments earned her a slot. The government ultimately agreed.

That kind of success has put Wright on the map as the go-to visa fixer for both Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

It also highlights the use of so-called genius visas known as O-1s and EB-1s, which have largely escaped political controversy and are now the immigration solution of choice for many entrepreneurs.

As many immigration lawyers see it, the paucity of immigration options for the most entrepreneurial foreigners mean they must use any avenue they can.

This approach, along with seeming flexibility in Washington on what constitutes ‘extraordinary ability’, means the O-1 is gaining traction in technology circles. Wider use could ultimately land it in political trouble.

For example, the H-1B visa, which allows employers to hire foreigners temporarily in certain specialized fields like technology, has drawn accusations from union groups and others that companies use it to bring in lower-skilled labor.

The O-1 visa allows individuals of ‘extraordinary ability’ to come to the United States for up to three years, and can be extended.

British journalist Piers Morgan used one when he replaced Larry King on his late-night TV show, Wright said.

The EB-1 is similar, but leads to a green card and permanent residency rather than a temporary stay, with ‘extraordinary ability’ being one of the ways to qualify - along with being an outstanding professor or researcher, or a multinational executive.

Foreign entrepreneurs have another option - the Immigrant Investor Program, or EB-5 visa - but it requires a capital investment of at least $500,000 and the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

By contrast, no proof of personal wealth or investment in the United States is required for the O-1 or the EB-1.

There is also no cap on the number of O-1s that the government can award each year; about 12,280 were approved in 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said, up from 9,478 in 2006. It issued about 25,000 EB-1s last year, below their cap of 40,000.

While high-profile artists and entertainers have long used the O-1s, they are now becoming a fallback for businessmen and technologists who cannot get H1-Bs.

Josh Buckley, a 20-year-old British-born entrepreneur and a client of Wright’s, is among the new crop of Internet entrepreneurs to win an O-1 visa. He applied after starting a few small companies, including one he sold at age 15 for a sum reaching the low six figures, he says.

He got his O-1 last year after lining up letters of recommendation from luminaries including Netscape co-founder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and Apple Inc co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Buckley, whose MinoMonsters gaming company is backed by Andreessen, saw little choice other than the O-1. The H-1B was off limits because it usually does not go to people who work for themselves. The O-1, unlike most H-1Bs, also does not require a college education--a key feature for the ever-younger entrepreneurs flocking to Silicon Valley.

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 06/30/2012 at 04:13 PM   
Filed Under: • Illegal-Aliens and ImmigrationUSA •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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