Skip to content
26
Mar

Poll: Jobs that require top skills satisfied through immigration reform

A greater pool of qualified teachers may come through immigration reform.

Evidenced by rising home values, greater availability of jobs and a steadily declining unemployment rate, the economy is slowly but surely recovering in the U.S. However, a considerable number of Americans believe it could be improving at a more robust pace by enabling businesses to better attract the best employees the world has to offer.

In a recent survey conducted by Zogby Analytics on behalf of the technology firm TechNet, nearly two-thirds of individuals polled said that by reforming certain components of the immigration system, business owners will be able to entice more people who come from overseas to work for them, many of whom may send money to their families back in their native country.

Respondents were particularly receptive to reform for business owners who are in a line of work that requires highly skilled or specially trained workers, such as in the sciences, technology, education or mathematical fields, otherwise known as STEM. In fact, nearly eight in 10 Americans – 77 percent – said that the government needs to commit more invest toward STEM education. More specifically, approximately 60 percent of people in the poll said that the government does not spend what it needs to in providing workers with the resources they need to better take on jobs in the sciences and technological fields.

Rey Ramsey president and CEO of TechNet, noted that American consumers today recognize that there's an abundance of people who live overseas who are more than qualified to fulfill these jobs and one of the best ways of enabling these individuals to access them is by addressing the ease which they can come to the country.

"Americans strongly support smart policies to reform our high skilled immigration system and address the shortage of workers with science, technology, engineering and math skill," said Ramsey. "Most importantly, our citizens are eager for reform and urge Congress to act now."

Delayed immigration reform risks falling behind global competition
Many are worried that failure to reform the immigration system may wind up costing Americans in the long run when it comes to staying ahead of other countries as they make their own economic improvements. For example, the poll found that approximately 43 percent of respondents believe that the country is losing its "innovation edge," saying that the next big invention will likely come from someplace other than the U.S, such as China.

John Zogby, who owns and operates his own polling firm, added that he's witnessed an overwhelming consensus from the public tying innovation to sound immigration policies.

"Americans have adapted to new technologies, see them as the path to growth and prosperity for our future, and favor a wide of policies that support more flexibility in immigration, more focus on technology in our education system, and spending on research that leads to even more innovation," he said.

Currently, people who wish to work in the sciences, or who have specialized skills and expertise, typically turn to H-1B visas in order to come to the country. Recently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it has begun accepting petitions from foreign residents for the 2014 fiscal year. There is a 65,000 cap on how many people will be able to come to the country with this via. However, the first 20,000 people who file a H-1B petition and who have a master's degree or higher will not count against the cap. This behooves prospective workers to file the necessary paperwork as soon as possible.

25
Mar

Hispanics reveal what drives them to be the best business owners they can be

Family and giving back to the community are chief motivating factors for Hispanic entrepreneurs.

It's clear that one of the leading factors that drives Hispanics and Latinos to start a business of their own is so that they can send money to their loved ones who may live in Mexico or some other part of Latin America. There are a variety of other reasons why Hispanics set out to start their own businesses, though.

Recently, life insurance company MassMutual released the results of its report, "Business Owner Perspectives: 2011 Insights in an Uncertain Economy." While it's contents focused on entrepreneurs in general, it made a point of detailing the factors that motivate Hispanics to start their own business ventures.

One of the leading aspects that compelled many Hispanics to start companies of their own was due to a fervent desire to give back to their community. More than half of the business owners who took part in the survey – 54 percent – noted that they felt a sense of duty to give back to their locality by providing for its residents through goods or services. They also hoped that their operations would contribute to the community's economic strength as well. This contrasts sharply with the general public population, as approximately one in every five said giving back to the community was what drove them to begin their business.

Additionally, extended family members served as sufficient motivations for Hispanic business owners. The report found that roughly one-third of all business owners of Latino descent began their company because they wanted to help their extended family members out by giving them a job. About 19 percent of the general business owner population cited this as their reasoning.

Overwhelmingly, though, immediate family members served as the top inspiration for beginning a business. Close to nine in every 10 said providing for their loved ones was the most influential factor, a feeling shared by 77 percent of business owners overall.

March 29 is National Mom-and-Pop Business Owner's Day
Small business owners – no matter what their origin – serve as the lifeblood of the American economy. So much so, that there's a day devoted to celebrating what they do for the country's financial system and job market.

March 29 is National Mom-and-Pop Business Owner's Day. The annual occasion is often recognized by consumers by purchasing some of their everyday needs at local small business operations rather than at big box stores or supermarkets.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are approximately 27 million small businesses in the country. These operations account for roughly 60 percent of all new jobs that are added to the economy on an annual basis.

To a certain extent, local convenience stores and markets aren't quite as commonplace as they once were. That said, they still represent a considerable share of the businesses that are in operation today. SBA notes that the number of small businesses in the U.S. has jumped nearly 50 percent since 1982. In addition, while big businesses have made workforce cutbacks – as many as 4 million since 1990 – small businesses have created 8 million jobs over the past 23 years.

Many of these jobs wouldn't have been possible without Hispanic entrepreneurs.

However, that's not to suggest that today's business owners don't have struggles. The MassMutual study found that roughly 30 percent of Hispanic business owners have trouble with keeping up with everyday operational expenses, roughly one in four have financial concerns about retirement and 18 percent say they don't know where to go for financial assistance. Approximately 12 percent of business owners in general expressed the same unawareness.

Small business owners who are having trouble financially may want to talk about it with their local chamber of commerce, which serves the business community.

21
Mar

Foreign workers with special skills urged to apply for residency

Engineering professionals often use an H-1B visa to gain access to the U.S. workforce.

People looking to send money to their families by utilizing a unique skill or sphere of knowledge may now be able to live in the U.S., thanks in large part to what they can bring to the American workforce and economy.

As of March 15, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has begun accepting H-1B applications, which are given to foreign workers who have a background in a special field of study. These visas benefit both the worker and the business, as they allow those who wish to come to the U.S. with a means of entry and business owners get to take advantage of talented workers.

The earlier that foreign citizens apply, the more likely it is that they'll be able to be considered. USCIS notes that a maximum of 65,000 applications will be accepted for the 2014 fiscal year, which will begin on October 1.

However, there are some caveats to this rule. For example, people with advanced degrees are in high demand, mainly because they can be hard to come by. This means that approximately 20,000 H-1B petitions that are filed among people with master's degrees will not count toward the maximum allotment. In other words, 20,000 petitions will be exempt from the fiscal year cap of 65,000.

Cap number to be reached quickly
Since USCIS began the H-1B petition program, it's been quite popular, and the requests have always outnumbered the number of spots available. Officials expect the same this time around, as the applications that pour in will likely exceed the cap within a short period. USCIS says it took approximately two and a half months for the cap to be reached last year, 235 days in 2011 and 300 days in 2010. Based on recent history, immigration experts speculate that application activity will probably spike between April 1 and April 5.

If the amount of applications go above and beyond the maximum allotment, USCIS says it will do what it's done in the past, which is to implement a lottery-based system. This method will "randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the numerical limit. This mode of selection hasn't been implemented with great frequency, as the last time it was used was in April 2008.

Though these applications are used by a wide variety of people with various nationalities, they are one of the most sought after forms of visa by many people who send money to India and are native to the country, according to the Press of India. Scientists, engineers, information technology professionals and computer programmers are just a few of the professions who would likely choose an H-1B non-immigrant visa.

For more information on H-1B applications, how much they cost and how quickly they are processed, workers are asked to visit USCIS's website, where they will be directed to a web page that has in depth information all about the program.

It's little wonder that so many businesses in the U.S. today rely on H-1B applicants, as foreign workers represent a large percentage of today's workforce. According to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, between 2000 and 2010, virtually all of the net growth in jobs went to immigrants in this 10-year period, even though immigrants represented one-third of population growth. In addition, there's been an increase of 4.5 million immigrants working in the U.S. in this decade versus a 1.1 million decline in native-born workers.

Helpful links:

H-1B application form

20
Mar

Mexican youth help spawn new music craze to counter drug culture

Nueva Ola Fronteriza is music to the ears of many Latinos.

Similar to other countries, Mexico sees it's fair share of crime each year, despite officials' best attempts to quell the rate of violence on city streets and within communities. While these safety concerns are important to address and require 100 percent effort from locals committed to tamping down disorderly conduct, many Mexicans have been able to counter crime. They've done this through song and dance, effectively recommitting themselves to what makes up a significant component of Mexican culture. 

According to Highbrow Magazine, many Mexican youth have turned to music to air their frustrations about the rate of violence in the country, particularly in Ciudad Juarez. While music serves as the vehicle in which to impart what these youth feel about the high rate of crime, what their most concerned about is that their message gets through to those who listen loud and clear. That's because these youth have developed a new genre of music called "Nueva Ola Fronteriza," or new border wave.

What gives the genre its distinction is how it differs from some of the genres that are in vogue today. The magazine notes that several types of music, such as "Narco Corridos," or drug ballads, foolishly sensationalize the illegal narcotics culture in Mexico, which is further exacerbated by drug cartels that mass produce and sell them.

The wholesome, positive message emanating from nueva ola fronteriza has helped make some bands in Mexico household names. Highbrow Magazine reports that Maldita Vecindad has become so popular that major advertisers now send money to the band members when they promote their products.

Music industry professionals believe new genre is built to last
The ultimate goal of bands like Maldita Vecindad and Pajaros Sin Alas – roughly translated as Birds Without Wings – is to replace the narco corrido genre with nueva ola fronteriza, not only in Mexico, but throughout the world. The magazine notes how since 2004, bands that sing songs glamorizing the drug culture in Mexico have gained somewhat of a following in the United States. In fact, the genre produces an estimated $300 million per year for the music industry in Mexico, according to estimates from the BBC. Los Angeles is perhaps the drug ballad genre's largest market. Los Tigres – a popular band whose songs fall into this classification – sold 500,000 copies in the U.S. after the release of its latest album, many of which were in California's most-populous city.

Officials are hopeful that the glory days for these bands that sensationalize drug use are numbered, as already, stadiums that were once filled with people celebrating narco corrido are now brimming with people swaying to the tunes of the new border wave genre, Highbrow Magazine reports.

Dancing and music are emblematic of Mexican and Latino culture. Recently, Latino Appreciation Day was celebrated in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Capitol Building. One of the ways in which the city recognized the occasion was through a performance done by Viva El Folklore, who went through an elaborate dance routine in front of dozens of Utahns on March 13.

Latino music, of course, isn't confined to Mexico. Variations on the genre are found throughout South America, especially in Brazil. According to Fox News Latino, with Brazil hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, there's been a renewed sense of interest in Brazilian music throughout the world, led by popular artists like Lucenzo, Taio Cruz, Jarina De Marco and Nelly Furtado.

19
Mar

Minorities saving more for their kids’ future

New research shows that many African Americans, Hispanics and Asians are saving for their own medical costs that their kids can use to help pay for them.

Whether people send money abroad or to a family member that lives within the U.S., they often do so because they love them and want them to live more comfortably. And as a new study shows, many minorities today are also putting more of their money away for their loved ones to use at a later time so that they won't have to worry about medical expenses once they get older and are in need of care.

The report, which was conducted jointly by the State Farm Center for Women and Financial Services as well as the American College of Financial Services, found that six in 10 women of color save money for retirement, primarily so that they won't be a financial burden for their kids should they become infirm in their latter years.

What was particularly noteworthy was the way in which women are saving and how they saved depending on their ethnic background and economic status. For example, the report found that Asian women who earned more than $75,000 per year made saving more of a priority than did women of the same ethnicity but whose annual salary was less.

This shouldn't suggest, however, that people who earn less aren't just as concerned about saving money for their children once they become adults. The poll also found that regardless of personal economic circumstances, women found a variety of ways in which to save money.

Sophia Duffy assistant professor of employee benefits at The American College, noted that defined benefit company pension plans are becoming less frequent number, mainly because employer are cutting them in order to save on costs.

"Personal savings must be encouraged if individuals are to achieve financial security in retirement," said Duffy.

Cost of living heavy load for many minorities
Another potential reason for why many minorities are putting an emphasis on saving for their kids may stem from the cost of living. According to a newly released report, which was conducted jointly by the Poverty and Race Research Action Council as well as the National Low Income Housing Coalition, close to 50 percent of today's African American and Hispanic families face challenges when it comes to housing costs.

Based on cost of living calculations and average salaries, NLIHC indicates that someone who who works at least 30 to 40 hours per week has to earn approximately $19 an hour if they want to rent out a two-bedroom apartment affordably. Housing experts say that, ideally, no more than one-third of an individual's salary should go toward rent costs.

However, approximately 48 percent of African American families do not have the type of income they would need to fulfill this ideal. A similar percentage – 46 percent – of Hispanics face similar financial straits.

Phillip Tegeler, president of the PRRAC, indicated that these results are truly sobering and ought to send a message to legislators that more needs to be done to support hard working Americans who are making less than they're worth.

"Finding affordable housing is a challenge for all low-income Americans, but our analysis demonstrates it is even more burdensome for families of color," said Tegeler. "This should be a wake-up call for the administration and Congress that addressing housing costs, and creating more affordable housing, must be a national priority."

The NLIHC recently released a separate report on how many hours the average person has to work in order to afford an apartment. Some of the best places were in the Midwest – such as North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas – as low rent rates enabled renters to do more with their money while spending less time on the job.

18
Mar

NBA celebrates Hispanic heritage with Noche Latina

Metta World-Peace of the Los Angeles Lakers is among the players who participates in Noche Latina.

When workers have some spare cash and their families are taken care of after completing a money transfer, sports fans will splurge now and then on some NBA tickets, where they can witness live and in person the world's best basketball players taking center state. And with many of the NBA's fans originating from Latin America, over the past several years, the players within the league have acknowledged them with a special recognition program.

Since the 2006-07 season, the National Basketball Association has paid tribute to its fans with Hispanic and Latino roots with its "Noche Latina" program, which is Spanish for Latin Night. In the cities where the Hispanic community represents a considerable share of the overall population, the players wear special jerseys. For example, when the Miami Heat are playing at home, jerseys read "El Heat." And in San Antonio, the Spurs wear jerseys that say "Los Spurs."

Other cities that participate in Noche Latina are Orlando, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago and New York.

Saskia Sorrosa, vice president of Hispanic marketing for the NBA, said that this outreach program has benefited both the players and the league's most diehard fans.

"The Noche Latina program is the perfect example of the ongoing commitment by the NBA to celebrate diversity as part of the fabric of our game," said Sorrosa. "This month-long celebration will bring the excitement of the NBA to Hispanic fans in ways that are culturally relevant."

Since the program was first launched seven years ago, players wore the jerseys during the month of March. They continue to do so today, as many of the games that have been played in the third month of the year have brought considerable attention from fans as well as the media. The first Noche Latina game was played on March 2 between the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets at the United Center.

It isn't just different uniforms that makes Noche Latina games special. Fans – whether they're of Hispanic descent or not – are encouraged to participate in the celebration as well, as the home team will play Latin-inspired music during time-outs and at halftime. Prizes and competitions take place during breaks in the action also.

The NBA announced 15 Noche Latina games for the month of March. While many have already passed by, there are still several that have yet to be played, including one on March 14 when Los Spurs play the Mavericks, March 22, which pits El Magic against the Oklahoma City Thunder. March 27 will close out the schedule, as Los Bulls face the league's best team – El Heat. The NBA champion Heat are currently on a 20-game winning streak, with a 49-14 win-loss record.

Hispanic players well represented in NBA
Over the years, the NBA's players have become increasingly diversified, as many players originate from overseas. There are currently 18 foreign-born Hispanic players in the league, including Luis Scola of the Phoenix Suns, Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs, Gustavo Ayon of the Milwaukee Bucks and Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The NBA as a brand hasn't only made inroads among Hispanic countries. It's also earned a following in other countries that aren't known for basketball, such as China and India.

Matthew Brabants, vice president of business operations for global media distribution, told The Boston Globe that the NBA understands the importance of sports for many countries and isn't trying to replace national pastimes.

"We're not trying to take on cricket," said Brabants, referring to India. "But if we could be a strong number two in a country like India with more than a billion people, well, that's a pretty great feat."

15
Mar

Injury often not enough to squelch immigrants’ work ethic, report suggests

A new survey analyzes what health effects immigrants face in the workplace.

Thanks to their work ethic and determination, few things can get in between an immigrant and his ability to send money home to his family, as sickness, poor weather and physical ailments often prove to be no match for their drive and perseverance.

But every now and then, physical disabilities – which may have occurred while on the job – prevent even the most persistent person from being able to head to work on a given day.

With this in mind, the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health recently released the results of a poll, detailing immigrants and their work safety based on the responses from 366 immigrants, two-thirds of whom responded to the survey.

In addition to getting an idea of how many immigrants have been injured while on the job, the report also provided information on the jobs foreign-born workers are taking on in the Granite State. While immigrants are found in virtually every employment sector, the report found that they were usually in factory sectors, as well as cleaning services, food services, farming, construction and retail.

While all jobs carry a certain level of risk, as accidents can occur even in positions that aren't especially dangerous, a fairly small percentage of immigrants indicated that they were injured while on the job. Of the 10 percent of respondents who said that they had been injured, the most common injuries reported were to the extremities, specifically the hands, fingers, wrists, feet and elbows. There were a small number of injuries to the back and stomach as well among the 29 people who said that they'd been hurt on the job.

Because of immigrants' resilience, it may not come as a surprise as to how many of them stayed in their positions despite their injuries. Approximately seven in 10 respondents said that they "always" or "sometimes" maintained their post for whatever job they were involved with, even though doing so was sometimes tiring or painful.

Immigrants often unaware of workers' compensation
When workers get hurt while working, they are entitled to workers' compensation. Many small business have this type of insurance protection, which enables them to provide payment for their workers should they encounter an injury or illness that prevents them from being able to work.

The study found, though, that many immigrants were not aware that their company had this type of coverage that they could take advantage of. More than 60 percent of immigrants said that they didn't know about workers' compensation.

This report will likely help business owners better understand their employees and why it's important to make them aware of certain protections they have in the event they can't work for health-related reasons.

New Hampshire isn't known for being a major hub for foreign residents, as the immigrant population there is a fraction of what it is in states like Illinois, Florida, California and Texas. But the Granite State is slowly but surely seeing its population become more diverse. According to the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, slightly more than 5 percent of the state's population is made up of immigrants. However, that's a full percentage point higher than in 2000. In addition, the relatively small share of foreign-born residents produced 50 percent of the state's population increase in between 2000 and 2010.

Numbers from the Immigration Policy Center indicate that New Hampshire has 69,700 foreign immigrants currently living within the state, nearly 55 percent of whom have been naturalized.

8
Mar

American homeowners increasingly comprised of immigrants

Increases in homeownership levels will be heavily influenced by immigrants, a new report says.

Thanks to the successes of immigrants in the working world, many of whom send money to their families back home, they will likely have a heavy influence on homeownership throughout the next several years, a recent report indicates.

According to a joint study conducted by researchers from the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Population Dynamics Research Group at the University of California, homeownership growth among roughly 33 percent of new households will be made up of the immigrant population. In addition, growth in more than one in every four renter households will be comprised of immigrants.

John Pitkin, senior research associate for the PDRG, said that while the report pertains to all immigrants regardless of where they originated from, the largest bloc of buyers will be the Hispanic community.

"For example, among the cohort of Hispanics who arrived in the United States during the 1980s, homeownership rose from just above 15 percent in 1990 to nearly 53 percent in 2010," said Pitkin. "[It] is projected to rise to above 61 percent in 2020 when the cohort will have resided more than 30 years in the United States."

He added that the heightened demand of homes among immigrants is a natural outflow of the pace at which individuals from other countries have come to the U.S., many of whom came seeking a better life for themselves and their family.

The report also detailed the states that would likely garner the most demand from immigrants. Perhaps not surprisingly – given how many immigrants live there – New York and California are likely to represent the states with the highest rates of foreign-born demand. Home owning immigrants already represent a sizable share of property owners in the respective states, comprising 82 percent of the increase in California and 65 percent in New York.

According to the Immigration Policy Center, 10.1 million immigrants live in the Golden State, with roughly four in 10 being naturalized citizens. In New York, more than half of the Empire State's immigrants are have gone through the naturalization process of the 4.2 million who live there.

Four other states where growth is likely to be largely represented by foreign-born citizens include New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Michigan, the report said.

Mark Zandi, a nationally recognized economist for Moody's Analytics, indicated that the immigrant population will have a heavy influence on the country's economy, as much of it depends on the real estate sector.

"Immigrants will be key to the housing market for decades to come," said Zandi, USA Today reports.

Cities with highest, lowest vacancy rates
With demand for rental and purchase households picking up, immigrants may find it difficult to find a place that's available, as vacancy rates have diminished. However, there are a number of metropolitan regions where many people have either left or are leaving their homes after they sell them.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released a list of the 75 cities where vacancy rates are highest. At 4 percent, the city with the largest number of properties available is Bakersfield, California. The Golden State's ninth-largest city is followed by Greensboro, North Carolina at 3.5 percent, Las Vegas at 3.4 percent; Toledo, Ohio at 3.3 percent and the Riverside-San Bernardino, California area at 3.3 percent. Rounding out the top 10 are St. Louis at 3.1 percent, Virginia Beach, New Orleans and Providence, Rhode Island tied at 2.9 percent and Chicago at 2.8 percent.

El Paso, Texas; Springfield, Massachusetts and Rochester, New York are three places where vacancies are few and far between. Each of these metro areas has a vacancy rate of 0.5 percent or less.

7
Mar

Builders strongly in support of recruitment tool

E-Verify may at some point be available by phone.

While there's no shortage of jobs immigrants have in the U.S. that enable them to send money to their families back home, a considerable number of foreign nationals work in the construction industry. However, due to circumstances beyond their control, many hiring construction firms have had some difficulty with recruitment due to concerns about their immigration status.

Thanks to the implementation of the E-Verify program, that's become less of an issue.

E-Verify is an internet services that approximately 409,000 employers use, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, allowing businesses to cross-reference data and determine if immigrants are authorized to work. The program has been so successful that an estimated 1,300 new businesses sign up to use the service each week.

Christopher Gamvroulas, a Salt Lake City home builder and developer, recently testified on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders before a group of legislators serving in the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. He indicated that as lawmakers continue to deal with updating immigration laws, a key component of its reform should include E-Verify, which he says is quite user-friendly.

"On the whole, we have found E-Verify to be an efficient system," said Gamvroulas. "Generally speaking, it is easy to use."

At the same time, though, its implementation hasn't been flawless. Gamvroulas then made some recommendations about how the E-Verify system can be used so that it enhances the employer-employee relationship and gives business owners greater flexibility. For example, instead of only allowing employers to use the internet-based system once an applicant starts their job, business owners ought to be able to use it as soon as the candidate agrees to work.

"Allowing us to verify our workers' status the day they accept the job offer will give us more lead time to handle tentative non-confirmations for those who are ineligible to work," said Gamvroulas.

In addition, he suggested that E-Verify be accessible through multiple channels, such as by telephone. Because many construction firms only have a handful of employees and are rarely in the office, the telephone serves as another way the program can be used, such as while on the job site.

Immigrants represent one in every five construction workers
According to a recent analysis conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 15 percent of the national workforce is comprised of people who were born in a country outside of the U.S. But in the construction industry specifically, the immigrant worker ratio is much higher, accounting for roughly 20 percent of the workforce. Of these, more than half – 54 percent – come from Mexico and one in every four native to either Central America or South America.

E-Verify has received stellar ratings from many business owners that aren't all within the construction field. In a recent poll conducted by USCIS, out of 1,300 randomly selected employers who use the program regularly, customer satisfaction scores averaged 86 on a 100-point scale, with 100 being the highest possible score.

"This customer survey validates the success of our efforts, which we have undertaken in collaboration with the business and labor communities and other key stakeholders," said Alejandro Mayorkas, director of USCIS.

The poll also found that business owners were confident about its accuracy, were more than likely to continue using it for the foreseeable future and expect to recommend its use to other employers.

28
Feb

Financial expert busts common credit myths

Certain longheld beliefs about credit have led to financial disaster for some consumers.

Before coming to America, many immigrants may have had certain assumptions about what life was like in the U.S. These beliefs may have been passed down from family members or they may have been stereotypes that they heard while growing up.

While some of these generalizations may have been confirmed, it's likely that the majority of them proved to be inaccurate, as times change and life often proves to be different from what was forecast.

There are some truths that hold up no matter what and remain constant in all walks of life. And as financial expert Jeanne Kelly writes for the Huffington Post, consumers will find this when they're dealing with money matters and credit. Even here, though, certain myths have held up over the years that need to be set straight.

For example, it's often said that in order for people to improve their credit scores, they need to pay off all of their expenses before a given bill's due date. While this is a smart thing to do, it's not the be-all, end-all in determining what a credit score will be. The average consumer has a variety of expenses they need to take care of – whether it's paying off a bill or making an international wire transfer to family back home – all of which, sometimes, can't be paid off in time.

"Life is busy and there are always plenty of things we need to spend our credit to purchase," said Kelly. "So if you can't use and pay off your credit card each month then the next best thing is to use each of your credit cards and pay them down to 20 percent of the high credit limit."

In other words, some people think that if they can't pay off the total amount, there's no sense in paying some if it. At the very least, strive to pay the bare minimum before the bill's due date.

Credit score involves more than loan activity
Another half-truth that's stood the test of time is that a person's credit score is a three-digit number entirely defined by how well a consumer has handled their credit cards, loans and mortgages. While this does, indeed, represent a good portion of a credit score, it's not the only aspects that define credit. Kelly notes that other financial purchases are considered as well, such as when an electric or water bill is paid. This makes utility bills an important expense to take care of in a prompt fashion.

The final myth that often keeps people from attaining the best credit score possible is the notion that if they have fewer credit cards, the better they'll appear in the eyes of creditors. Kelly notes that creditors like to see that people are capable of handling multiple lines of credit over an extended period of time, as good credit is something that's earned with experience and a history of making smart money decisions.

In other words, it's far better to have a history of credit card usage than to have never used them, as creditors will have nothing to base their decisions on when considering a loan or mortgage application.

It's important to point out that an individual's credit score can occasionally be hurt through no fault of their own. The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that approximately 20 percent of Americans have an error on their credit report, or a mark that suggests they haven't paid off an expense when they actually have.

This makes it crucial to review one's credit report on occasion, which can be done by requesting a copy from the U.S.' credit reporting agencies TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.