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Phoenix Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

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.

H-1B visa programs may take on a new form under Trump

Immigrants who work in Arizona or other parts of the U.S. on H-1B visas may have to deal with evolving political and legislative landscapes thanks to President Donald Trump. Although Trump has long spoken out against potential flaws in the immigration system, in mid-April 2017, he took what some observers say was his first official move in efforts to bring change to federal work visa programs. Although some legal observers said that his actions lacked teeth, they could represent a shifting tide of official federal policy and open the door to more formal legislation that favors American workers.

Trump's executive order directed a number of federal entities to devise new reforms for the H-1B visa program. According to the text of the order, these changes should promote policies that guarantee that visa winners have high skills and fulfill high-paid job positions.

Tougher immigration penalties may be imposed

Many Arizona residents are concerned about immigration issues. They may be immigrants themselves, have family members who are interested in immigrating, or may know people who are unsure of their immigration status. Changes in immigration law and policy has made many of them even more anxious.

The federal government has announced a policy of getting tough on immigrants who break the law while in the United States, as well as individuals who are in the country illegally. For example, immigrants who have been convicted of or even charged with crimes may be prioritized for deportation. In addition, a Justice Department memo stated that felony penalties might be applied to individuals who assist in helping people arrive in the United States illegally. These penalties would also be applied to those who "harbor" undocumented immigrants.

Border agents detaining holders of special immigration visas

As a result of living in a border state, many Arizona residents are aware of immigration issues, and a new era of aggressive enforcement appears to have dawned. Even holders of special immigration visas, who have sometimes undergone years of vetting and background checks, cannot know for certain if they can enter the United States. The director of the International Refugee Assistance Project said that people in possession of an SIV had not been detained or deported by border agents until recently.

For example, a man from Afghanistan whose life was at risk because he worked for U.S. development authorities in Kabul obtained an SIV to move to the United States with his wife and four young children. Agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained him at the airport. Only after five hours of questioning did agents allow him to proceed.

Expedited processing for H-1B visas suspended

Arizona business owners may be interested to learn that, starting April 3, expedited processing for H-1B visas were scheduled to be suspended. These particular visas are used by U.S. companies to sponsor foreign talent and allow them to stay in the country for up to six years.

This suspension hits the technology industry particularly hard as some observers believe that there are not enough U.S. workers with the skills needed to fill all of the positions that will be left open. According to the co-chair of the American Competitiveness Alliance, companies who do not have the ability to hire people with the skills that they need to expand will be hit hard and may have trouble competing and surviving. Firms that have plans for large-scale projects, universities and some nonprofit groups may also be impacted.

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