Washington, DC.- The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Temporary Employment of Greeks in America (TEGA), Ted Spyropoulos, in coordination with the Washington public policy company Manatos & Manatos released more detailed information about the TEGA amendment recently adopted in the immigration bill that affects Greek and Cypriot citizens.
The immigration reform legislation passed the US Senate Judiciary Committee by a strong vote of 13 to 5 on Tuesday. It will now go before the full Senate where it must get at least 60 votes to pass.
As was the case in the Senate, immigration reform legislation in the House of Representatives is being drafted by a bipartisan group of House Members referred to as “The Gang of Eight.” Their bill must be considered in the Judiciary Committee of the House and then approved by a majority of the 435 Members on the floor of the House.
Below are some questions that have arisen regarding this Hellenic amendment and their answers.
Will this amendment impact Greek-language teachers working in America today?
Answer: No. The overwhelming majority of the young people who will come from Greece and Cyprus under the provisions of this legislation are not brought here for the purpose of teaching formal Greek language classes. Virtually all are being brought here to perform a job that has in its description a need for some very part-time tutoring of the Greek language. That tutoring may take the form of helping the employer brush up on his or her Greek by simply conversing in Greek some of the time at work. It might involve the Greek or Cypriot citizen putting in maybe an hour a week on an Internet site tutoring Greek language to those interested in his or her area. It might involve simply spending about an hour a week teaching basic conversational Greek to the children of the employer. If it has any effect on current teachers, this introduction of Greek language to a broader audience of Greek-Americans might actually spur a spike in enrollment in formal Greek language classes.
Can Greek-American employers bring people from Greece or Cyprus to work in the US if Greek language proficiency is not one of the requirements for the job?
Answer: No. If a job opening in the company of a Greek-American does not require some proficient tutoring of the Greek language, regular visa standards apply. The Congress takes the position that job openings in America should be filled by Americans. They make an exception in this case because there are virtually no Americans in the unemployment pool who can fill a job that has as one of its requirements proficiency in the Greek language.
How long can a Greek or Cypriot citizen stay in the US in one of these jobs?
Answer: As the amendment is written now, 18 months with the possibility of renewing the Visa.
How many Greek or Cypriot citizens can come to the US under this provision?
Answer: As many as there are jobs to fill that require some part-time tutoring of the Greek language. There is no limit.
What kind of job openings in companies of Greek-Americans will be available for Greek and Cypriot citizens?
Answer: The type of job opening does not matter as long as it requires some part-time tutoring of the Greek language as one of its requirements. Various Greek-Americans in various businesses will create various positions with this language requirement. It can be a job position that requires them to speak some Greek to other employees, customers or company officials or to provide some part-time Greek tutoring in their community, for example.