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Immigration benefits that may be available after Hurricane Isaac

USCIS is offering help to immigrants who may have been affected by Hurricane Isaac.

In the wake of Hurricane Isaac, many immigrants' ability to send money to their families may have been affected temporarily due to an inability to gain access to the internet or because they were forced to leave their homes, thereby preventing them from the traditional means by which they wire money. Hopefully, conditions have improved so that this is no longer an issue.

However, because the storm impacted certain parts of Louisiana and Mississippi more directly than others, some people may require more time to recover than others. And because of this, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has made temporary relief measures available to those who are in need of it.

1. Extension of nonimmigrant status. Some of these benefits include immigrants' ability to change or extend their nonimmigrant status in the U.S., even if the request was filed after the authorized period of admission. Something else that may be extended are those who were granted parole by the USCIS when they initially came to the country.

2. Employment authorization. Another area foreign workers may be able to take advantage of as a result of the storm relates to employment authorization. Individuals who were looking for permission to work off-campus may be able to get an answer relatively quickly, so long as they can prove that they have encountered trying economic circumstances.

3. Residency. Something else that may be processed fairly quickly are papers from immigrants who are applying for residency on behalf of their family members. USCIS notes that expedited processing may be available for affected U.S. citizens whose immediate relatives are looking to gain residency. Employment authorization applications may be decided and sent back to applicants fast as well.

4. Assistance to those who may have been stranded. Though travel conditions have mostly returned to normal, Hurricane Isaac may have delayed or stranded lawful permanent residents who may have been visiting their families overseas when the storm hit. USCIS indicates that it and the State Department will provide assistance as needed, especially if it pertains to the loss of travel documents or green cards.

Though Hurricane Isaac may not have carried the same kind of force that Katrina did in 2005, many people were still affected by the storm. In some portions of Louisiana, for example, nearly 18 inches of rain fell, prompting rescuers to launch boats and other high-water vehicles in order to come to the aid of hundreds of people.

"I've never seen so much water in my life," Cisco Gonzales, a heating and air conditioning business owner, told The Associated Press. He added that he was able to come to the aid of at least 12 people who were stranded by the high-water levels.

Though Louisiana doesn't boast an immigrant population level that's on par with Texas or Arizona, the number of people who have relocated there overseas or from a different state has increased in recent years. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the foreign-born population of Louisiana increased significantly between 2000 and 2010. Two years ago, the immigrant population of Louisiana was just under 4 percent, up from 2.6 percent in 2000, meaning that more people from throughout the world are moving to Louisiana to take advantage of the cultural and employment opportunities.


Path to country’s prosperity may come through remittances

Filipino economists say greater job growth can come through using remittances for investing.

Traditionally, when people send money overseas, it's used in a way that most directly impacts families, such as by paying rent bills, grocery items or gasoline. According to a Filipino finance official, remittances may be exactly what countries need to fund improved job growth.

Speaking at the Philippine Services Sector Conference at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas deputy governor Diwa Guinigundo indicated that remittances could help stimulate the country's services sector, which is a key component of the Filipino economy.

“The BSP will continue to ensure that [overseas Filipino workers] gain better access to financial products and services by conducting various learning campaigns for a wider number of beneficiaries such as their families," said Guinigundo, according to BusinessWorld Online.

He added that investing may seem like something that's complicated and too detail-oriented to delve into, but BSP will help Filipinos who work in another country provide for their families so that they can understand what financial instruments are out there and whether they should invest. They may even want to invest in a small business.

Sittie Hannisah Butocan, economic research deputy director, noted at the conference that devoting remittances to investment makes sense, as it can yield higher returns, rather than none at all when it's put toward consumables.

Investments are more sustainable than non-tradable goods, and they will also have a multiplier effect on the services sector," Butocan told the news source.

Survey: Four in 10 Filipinos putting remittance earnings toward savings

It appears as though Filipinos may already be thinking about making more investments with remittance money. BusinessWorld Online notes that based on the most recent consumer expectations survey that was conducted by BSP, nearly 40 percent of respondents devoted at least a portion of remittance funds toward savings in the second quarter. That's up from just under 34 percent.

Guinigundo indicated that nothing is new about Filipinos putting remittances toward savings and investments. However, the potential of boosting the country's economy may be limitless if more consumers invest and make smart decisions in the process.

"[Overseas Filipino Worker] remittances are a major source of foreign exchange, they have helped spur private investments and consumption," he said during the conference, according to BusinessWorld Online. "But their full economic impact depends on Filipino households’ propensity to invest, and invest better."


Remittances can make the American ideal achievable

An immigration policy analyst offers his thoughts on remittances and how they've contributed to immigrants being able to achieve the American Dream.

As you're likely already aware, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is in effect, affording many younger undocumented immigrants with the opportunity to stay within the country without having to fear being deported. But what you may not fully appreciate is just how many people within the U.S. have family at home that they are providing for, which is why immigrants came to the U.S. to begin with.

In an opinion piece for the National Journal, Andrew Wainer, senior immigration policy analyst at the Bread for the World Institute, recently wrote about these immigrants, how their work ethic and drive has improved the lives of their loved ones and the potential for their remittances to do more good than they have already.

While many parts of the world receive remittances, nowhere are people more reliant on them than in Mexico and Central America, Wainer states. In countries like Guatemala and Honduras, remittances have a major impact. The money sent home is put to use so families can send their children to school, eat nutritious meals, pay for medical visits and rent bills. Citing the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Wainer said remittances enable people to get back on their feet by lifting them out of trying economic conditions.

As much as remittances are already helping families better support themselves, Wainer says more can be done. For instance, in addition to providing for the material goods of families, an international money transfer could also be invested so that more jobs can be created. This would provide other workers the opportunity to work in their home country if they wanted to, rather than feeling compelled to come to the U.S. in order to improve their job-seeking prospects.

He added that remittance recipients could also benefit from a few educational courses on how to invest in sustainable enterprises, which would help make families' earnings go that much further.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – otherwise known as the American Dream – is an aspiration of all people, Wainer noted. Better integration and implementation of remittance policies can get everyone closer to achieving the American ideal.


Bank deposits have helped lift many Brazilians from difficult situations

Bank deposits have been extremely helpful for Brazilian natives at home and abroad.

Even in economically strong countries like the United States, an estimated one in every seven people are on food stamps. Brazil is another country that fares well in the economic realm, yet money problems can be issues for families. According to the World Bank, up to 21 percent of the population has struggled financially in recent years.

However, thanks to the love and generosity of family members who send money home from abroad, financial hardships have diminished in a few short years. Even better, the rate of poverty continues to slide.

Bank deposits are ideal for a whole host of reasons, but they’re particularly beneficial because of convenience, security and peace of mind. This is especially true if the amount being sent is significant, as the recipient does not have to worry about picking up a large sum of cash in person.

This problem is solved with bank deposits. Immigrants who live and work in the U.S. can send money to any bank in Brazil, including Itau, Banco do Brasil, Banco Bradesco and Caixa. There are literally dozens of others to choose from, though, if the money receiver’s account is owned by another bank.

While bank deposits are completed relatively quickly, how fast they’re done largely depends on where it’s being sent to. For example, if an online money transfer  is being sent to Sao Paulo – Brazil’s largest city and the second largest in the southern hemisphere – the funds should be wired into the appropriate account within the same business day if it’s sent early enough using Xoom. It may be the next day, though, if the money is sent using Xoom after 2 p.m. local time. Even then, next day delivery is extremely convenient.


Bank deposits, cash transfers pave a pathway of success in Peru

Bank deposits have enabled Peruvians and their children to improve their quality of life.

With much of the world still enduring the aftereffects of the recession, Peru’s economy has in large measure weathered the storm. Since 2002, the country has seen its economy expand considerably, and thanks in part to people who send money to Peru, its national poverty rate has plummeted by double-digits, government data indicates.

One of the ways in which Peruvians have obtained these online money transfers is through bank deposits, one of the most secure ways in which to send money abroad.

Money transfers to a bank account in Peru offer peace of mind both for the sender and the recipient. Family members who send it can rest assured the money will go into their loved one’s bank account. Meanwhile, the recipient doesn’t have to put themselves at risk of being targeted by someone who’s looking to steal money from them, as carrying a large amount of cash can make them a target.

Another benefit of bank deposits is that they can be done in dollars or nuevos soles, whichever form is more convenient for the person who will be spending the money.

Xoom customers can also rely on bank deposits being done quickly. For example, if a cash transfer is being sent using Xoom to an account held at Interbank, Scotiabank or BBVA Banco Continental, they can expect the transfer to be completed within 15 minutes. It takes slightly longer for deposits to Banco de Credito BCP branches, but only an extra 15 minutes or so.

With Peru’s gross domestic product among the top 50 in the world, remittances can help the country’s economic strength grow even further.


Keep things simple by arranging cash pickup in the Dominican Republic

Consider arranging for cash pickup when you send money to the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic frequently ranks as one of the top destinations for remittances in Latin America, which may help explain why the country’s economic growth has recovered considerably since the global economic crisis. Xoom users may have helped make this reality possible.

Sending money to the Dominican Republic is fast and easy, thanks to a variety of ways in which money can be obtained by recipients who live in the island nation shared with Haiti. A fast and reliable ways is by cash pickup. As a general rule, funds sent to the country by an online money transfer are available to be picked up within 15 minutes when using Xoom. Even better, the money can be picked up in the form of dollars or pesos.

There are also a variety of pickup locations to choose from, so the chances of the recipient being a walk away from one are pretty good. Xoom can send money to more than 330 pickup locations in the Dominican Republic, many of which stay open until the late evening hours. In addition, if recipients are pressed for time and can’t get their money until the weekend, several of the pickup locations have business hours on Saturdays and Sundays as well. This may include places like Caribe Express, Banco BHD, Remesas Dominicanas and Banco Del Progreso.

The economy in the Dominican Republic is improving thanks to remittances. Help your family’s financial situation get that much better as well when you send money online.


Understanding cash pickup services to Honduras

Cash pickup services have been a tremendous resource for the Honduran people.

While many countries are still enduring the aftermath of the worldwide recession, countries have often relied on their natural resources to make it through. Honduras, for example, doesn’t have a great deal of industry, but thanks to its rich supply of natural resources – particularly coffee and bananas – it’s been able to weather often trying financial difficulties.

Remittances, meanwhile, have also helped the nation improve economically, as many within the country rely on family who send money from overseas.

One of the quickest ways of doing this is by scheduling a cash pickup. With 628 pickup locations – including Banco Atlantida, Ficohsa, BAC Honduras, Banadesa and several others – the money is usually available within 15 minutes of being sent with Xoom.

Money can be sent using Xoom in small amounts or large ones, and for as little as $4.99, nearly $3,000 can be transferred, with fees only slightly higher if paying by credit card.

Hondurans can also take advantage of extended operation hours at many locations, as places like Elektra are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the week – including Sunday – while Farmacia Siman stays open til 9 p.m. on the weekdays and closes at 6 p.m. on the weekend. Additionally, the pickup locations are distributed throughout Honduras, spanning as far north as La Ceiba, to the southern locale of Choluteca.

With cash pickup services, Honduran families can afford to live a bit more comfortably as they provide the emotional support to their loved ones who are working on their behalf in the U.S. and other countries around the world.


Understanding pick up money services in the Philippines with Xoom

There are nearly 10,000 pickup locations in the Philippines.

Many Filipinos send money to their loved ones with Xoom’s cash pick-up service. Xoom has literally thousands of pickup locations in the Philippines. From M.Lhuillier to Metrobank, BPI to BDO, there are close to 10,000 banks, retail locations and financial service institutions ready and willing to give what your relatives have waiting for them.

But “waiting” may not be the best term to use, as once you complete your online money transfer, your recipient’s money will often be ready in 15 minutes. In other words, in the time it takes for some to walk to their nearest pickup location, there’s a pretty good chance that their money will be waiting for them instead of the reverse.

Another perk that comes with picking up money sent through Xoom is the availability of the banks your recipient will be going to. It seems that everyone has a hectic schedule – no matter where they live – so many locations, such as retailers such as Cebuana Lhuillier and M.Lhuillier are open round the clock – 24 hours a day, seven days per week. This benefits both your recipient and you, as you won’t have to worry about sending something too late and your family member can go pick it up at their convenience.

Find out why Xoom’s cash pickup is one of the more popular ways customers complete their international money transfer by signing up today.