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Phoenix Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

A second chance for late DACA applications

In what is likely to be heralded as good news in many sectors of Arizona, hundreds of DACA renewal applicants that were said to have missed the October 5th deadline will have the chance to reapply. It came to light that many did, in fact, submit their applications on time, but unexplained Postal Service slowdowns caused their applications to arrive after the deadline.

The Trump administration initially commented that more than 4,000 immigrants missed the deadline for the two-year extension of protection under the DACA program. This program was scheduled to shut down in September 2017 and has an official end date of March 5, 2018.

Central American immigrants may be forced to leave US

Arizona residents may have heard that the United States is ending the special status currently given to 5,300 people of Nicaraguan origin. This protection is set to end in January 2019 according to the Trump administration. Another 86,000 Honduran residents who receive protection under the Temporary Protected Status will continue under that program until July 2018. However, there is no guarantee that the program will be extended after that.

TPS was implemented after Hurricane Mitch forced those living in Central America to immigrate to other countries such as the United States. There are more than 300,000 people from nine countries who are part of the TPS program, but there are hundreds of thousands from Central America who live and work in the country illegally. The program was ended for those from Nicaragua because it was determined that conditions created by the 1999 storm no longer exist.

Immigration rules tighten for military

Some immigrants who live in Arizona, as well as the rest of the country, volunteer for military service. For many, the military provides both career opportunities as well as a path to US citizenship. However, there are changes afoot that will affect immigrant service members and potential service members.

Non-citizens who hold green cards are still eligible to volunteer for military service. However, they must first undergo a background check before they can begin basic training. While this change reflects current concerns about national security, it may also slow down an individual's ability to enter the military.

Criteria for EB-1-B to enter the U.S. for a research job

A private research company or university in Arizona that wishes to employ a noncitizen within the country could prepare a EB-1-B application. Only a potential employer can initiate this process. The proposed position cannot be temporary; it must be permanent or tenure track. The U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services reviews this application before granting a researcher or professor a priority worker immigrant visa. To gain approval, an applicant's credentials must be outstanding and meet a minimum of two out of six requirements.

Immigration officials will be looking for evidence that the applicant has received major academic prizes or awards. A membership within an association that only accepts people who excel within their academic fields could also contribute to an applicant's success. Published trade articles or other media appearances could count as meeting one criterion. Serving as a judge at a grant-funding agency and working on the editorial board of a professional journal represent other ways to satisfy part of the requirements.

USCIS challenging far more H1-B visa applications under Trump

Immigration was a hot-button issue during the 2016 presidential election campaign, and this was especially true in border states like Arizona. Donald Trump vowed to tighten immigration laws and deport illegal aliens if elected, and data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reveals that his administration has taken steps to make securing H1-B visas more difficult for foreign workers. Between January and August, the number of H1-B visa applications rose by only 3 percent compared with the same period in 2016. However, the 85,000 challenges to these applications issued by USCIS represents a 45 percent increase over the number issued a year ago under the Obama administration.

Challenges to H1-B visa applications are also known as requests for evidence, and they can add months to already long processing times. Many employers rely on H1-B visa applicants to handle specialized work that they say few Americans have the training or experience to perform, but critics say the program is being exploited. They claim employers could find local workers but choose instead to look overseas to save money.

Why applying for citizenship may be easier said than done

The decision by President Trump to rescind DACA may result in young Arizona residents being deported. These children are referred to as "dreamers", and some wonder why they don't try to apply for citizenship. However, the process of becoming a citizen first requires an individual to obtain permanent resident status. In some cases, this process can take up to 25 years to complete.

Those who wish to obtain their green card may do so in three different ways. One method is to apply for asylum or to be admitted into the country as a refugee. Another method is to have an employer sponsor a person who may then be granted permanent residency. The most common way a person gets this status is by waiting for a family member to seek permission to bring him or her into the country.

Future of DACA remains uncertain under Trump administration

Undocumented immigrants in Arizona and other states who entered the United States as children may be interested in knowing more about a pending presidential decision regarding the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. President Trump, who must announce his decision before Sept. 5, is considering ending the policy, according to multiple news sources. However, one senior administration official cautions that the president could change his mind.

Initiated by the Obama administration, DACA offers certain protections for immigrants who arrived in the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday and subsequently lived here continuously for a minimum of five consecutive years. To qualify as a DREAMer, each individual must also meet additional age and educational requirements and have no criminal convictions on record.

H-1B program helpful to the U.S.

Arizona residents may be interested to know that the H-1B visa has provided economic benefits for both India and the United States. This was the finding of a study conducted by both the University of Michigan and the Center for Global Development. Although researchers noted that the visa could have negative results for some, American workers earned an additional $431 million in 2010 because of the program.

Incomes in both countries combined rose about .36 percent in 2010. The total IT output in both countries also rose about .45 percent in 2010 because of the visa program. Employers can use the H-1B visa to hire foreign workers to perform skilled jobs in the United States. As much as the program may be disliked in the United States, it is also criticized in India and cited as a reason why highly-skilled residents leave the country.

Program allowing expedited H1-B status reinstated

On July 24, the federal government reinstated a program that allows some employers in Arizona and throughout the country to gain faster H-1B visa consideration. Employers must not be subject to the annual visa cap in addition to paying a fee of $1,225. The premium program had been suspended by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in March 2017. Hospitals and non-profits are generally exempt from the annual H-1B visa cap.

The expedited process allows an employer to find out within 15 calendar days whether or not a worker is eligible for a visa. Typically, it can take several weeks or months for a company to find out about a worker's status. The program had been restored in June for physicians who were eligible to receive a waiver. According to the USICS, the suspension had been in place to decrease acceptance times among all visa applicants.

More seasonal temporary labor visas to be issued

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, additional visas are being made available for more temporary foreign workers to come to Arizona and elsewhere in the United States on a seasonal basis. While President Donald Trump has become known for his harsh stance on immigration, he has made use of the same visa program to staff his own hotels and resorts.

These temporary seasonal visas are usually issued to workers who come from abroad to work in seasonal businesses like resorts, landscaping companies and fishing. The work is often associated with low pay, intense physical labor and lengthy hours. An additional 15,000 of these temporary seasonal non-agricultural visas will be granted, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

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