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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

US Embassy in TA warns Israelis against illegal work in US

US Embassy in Tel Aviv

YouTube video featuring testimony of young people's "nightmare" upon being caught in the US without a work visa warns "the price is too high."

The US Embassy in Tel Aviv has warned young Israelis that they can be jailed and face a multi-year ban on future travels to the US if caught working illegally in the United States on an improper visa. The message was delivered in a video on the embassy's YouTube channel posted last week.

The phenomena of Israelis traveling to the US, usually following the conclusion of their military service, to work and save money for trips to South America, the Far East or Australia is well known in Israel.

The work generally involves sales of Dead Sea cosmetic products, hair straighteners or cell phone accessories at kiosks in malls across the US. In fact, it is difficult to find a mall in the US in which you will not be approached by a young Israeli actively trying to hawk you his or her wares. Israeli kiosks are found not only in the major urban centers in the US, but also in the most rural and out-of-the-way areas you can imagine, in every state of the union.

The US Embassy video features testimony of Israelis who have been caught without a work visa describing their subsequent legal problems and warning that "the price is too high" no matter how much money you are promised.

The Israelis on the video describe being duped by business owners, enlisting them in Israel to work in the US, into believing that working on an improper visa carries with it no real risk. They describe being "coached" on what to say when speaking to US officials when applying for a visa and upon entering the US. A US official warns that border patrol officials are experienced and will figure out that they are being lied to about the purpose of a visit to the US.

US Embassy in Tel Aviv Investigator Charles Shannon warns on the video that business owners take advantage of young and inexperienced Israelis just finishing the army and lie to them about the benefits of illegal work in the US. He adds that the common misconception that those detained for immigration related offenses will be held in a special immigration prison is false.

"The vast majority of people are held in regular, US criminal prisons. That means you are not being detained with other deportees, you're being housed with rapists, murderers and other criminals arrested in the United States."

In addition to jail time, the video warns of the "black stamp" you will receive on your passport for getting caught attempting to work illegally. Offenders can face a five-year ban on travel to the United States or a life-time ban if the Department of Homeland Security sees no benefit in letting you back into the country, according to the video.

A woman interviewed for the video on her experiences being caught working illegally in the US warns young Israelis to be wary of those attempting to recruit them: "They blind you with nonsense. It's not worth it and that's it - period."

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