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Phoenix Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

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.

Federal government puts asylum seekers at risk

Asylum seekers who try to enter the country legally in states like Arizona may find themselves endangered by legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in late June 2017. According to human rights advocates, "Kate's Law" raises the possibility that people seeking entry for their own safety might end up being prosecuted instead.

The problem with the law revolves around the fact that it expands the kinds of actions that amount to illegal reentry. As a result, someone who was illegally or mistakenly deported in the past might inadvertently commit a crime just by trying to seek asylum. The law also broadens the scope of the penalties that people could face after being convicted.

What to do if immigration officers arrest a family member

Immigration-related arrests are increasing in Arizona and other parts of the country, and a family member might be taken into custody for this reason. When this happens, it may be important to act quickly because the person may be deported after a short period of time. This deportation might happen without due process and could result in the person having trouble returning to the United States.

However, immigrants do have rights, and deportation can be stopped in some cases. Family members can contact an attorney or the foreign consulate. Contacting a consulate is a right of all foreign citizens, and the consulate may be able to assist a person in finding an attorney.

Fewer visas issued to people from travel ban countries

There may be fewer visitors to Arizona and other states from the seven countries targeted in President Trump's travel ban if an April trend continues. In that month, about half the number of visas were issued to people from those countries compared to any average month in the previous year. Nonimmigrant visas issued dropped about 15 percent in April compared to an average month from the previous year.

The seven countries mentioned in the travel ban are Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Iran. The first version of the ban was blocked by federal courts. A second version excluded Iraq but also had certain provisions blocked. An appeals court declined to reinstate the ban on May 25, and the case may be heard by the Supreme Court. On average, in the 2016 fiscal year, citizens of those countries received 5,700 visas per month. In 2015 and 2014, they received an average of 6,000 per month. In April 2017, that number dropped to 2,800. However, data on visa applications was not released, so it is unclear what factors are responsible.

The reasons why nonimmigrant visas may be revoked

Some foreing visitors travel to Arizona each year by using B2 nonimmigrant visas. These visas may be revoked by U.S. consuls for several reasons. It is important for people to understand why this can happen.

If a consul determines that the visitor actually intends to try to immigrate to the U.S. by overstaying a visitor visa, the consul may then revoke it. The intention must be demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence such as working while the visitor is in the U.S. The nonimmigrant visa may also be revoked if the person receives an immigrant visa. If the person removes the visa from his or her passport, it may also be revoked. Finally, the visa holder may also have the visa revoked if he or she has had a conviction for driving while intoxicated within the previous five years.

University program helps immigrants stay in the U.S.

Arizona residents may be interested to know that immigrants are responsible for founding many startups in America, according to immigration advocates. However, there is no specific visa for foreigners who wish to start their own companies in the United States. In many cases, employers can sponsor foreigners who want to stay in the country, but that doesn't work for those who are their own bosses.

This is why the University of Massachusetts Boston created the Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, which allows the self-employed to stay in the country legally. It started as an experiment in 2014 that had two people enrolled in its first year of existence. It currently has more than three dozen participants. The system works by having a university sponsor a foreign resident for an H-1B visa. The university technically acts as a participant's employer, and unlike most companies, there are no caps as to how many such visas a college can get.

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