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Phoenix Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Trump administration mulling welfare checks for immigrants

Immigrants in Arizona and around the country who receive SNAP benefits or other forms of financial assistance would find obtaining permanent residence more difficult under a policy being considered by President Trump. Immigration officers could check whether or not green card applicants have received or sought to receive public benefits for either themselves or their dependents under a draft policy from the Department of Homeland Security. The agency says that the rule change is needed to prevent immigrants from becoming burdens on society.

Supporters of the proposed measure say that screening immigrants based on the welfare benefits they have received encourages self-sufficiency and makes it more likely that they will go on to achieve the American dream, but critics say the draft policy could deter poor green card applicants from seeking potentially life-saving assistance. When asked about the proposal, a DHS representative said only that the Trump administration would spend taxpayer money carefully.

The rate of naturalization rises from 2005 to 2015

Arizonans may be interested to learn that most of the largest immigrant groups in the United States had increased rates of naturalization from 2005 to 2015, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center. The largest increase was among immigrants from Ecuador and India. The nations that either showed a decline or no change were Honduras, Cuba and China.

Several conditions must be met for a person to be eligible for citizenship. The person must be at least 18 and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. For people married to a citizen, the time period for residency is three years. The person must also be in good legal standing. The process can take up to a year and be expensive for some people. Between 2005 and 2015, around 11 percent of applications for naturalization were denied.

Some being turned at at San Diego entry points

Arizona residents may be aware that individuals may try to enter the United States from Mexico seeking asylum. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, entry into the country through San Diego ports has been paused as they have reached capacity. Therefore, those who are seeking asylum may need to wait until others are processed before they can eventually gain entry there themselves.

The CBP has said that no one is being turned away from the border and that the pause only applies to those who are being processed. Turning refugees away from the border may be a violation of Article 33 of the 1951 Refugee Convention according to a law professor at Harvard. Those who have been turned away may be able to seek shelter in Mexico with the help of Grupo Beta. For some, being denied entry into the United States is just one of their problems.

New rules may alter who can work in the United States

Since 2015, those who are the spouses of H-1B visa holders have been allowed to work in Arizona and throughout the United States by holding a H-4 visa. However, this rule may be revoked as per an executive order issued by President Trump in April 2017. It is thought that revoking the rule implemented by President Obama could make it harder to convince H-1B visa holders to remain in the country.

It is important to note that their spouses could still gain work authorization in other ways. Revoking the rule may have the biggest impact on the technology sector that relies on the H-1B visa to find skilled workers. It may also have an impact on Indian workers as they make up 70 percent of H-1B visa holders. In addition to facing pressure from the Trump administration, the H-4 rule is also facing legal action from a group called Save Jobs USA.

How an undocumented person could obtain legal status

Located near the border to Mexico, Arizona is one of several states where undocumented immigrants may choose to live. Although an undocumented person residing anywhere in the United States may face deportation, there is also a chance that they could get permanent resident status. Anyone who has been in the country for 10 consecutive years or longer may qualify for Cancellation of Removal if certain requirements are met.

For instance, the spouse or child of an American citizen may be granted such status. It might also be possible for skilled workers to get a green card. However, this may only be true if an employer can show that there wasn't a qualified American worker to handle the job. Individuals who seek asylum or were victims of human trafficking might be allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds. If a person is seeking asylum, the request must be made during the person's first year in the country.

The asylum process

People from other countries can apply for asylum in the U.S. when facing or fearing persecution in their own countries. This persecution might occur because of religion, race, political opinion, nationality or membership in a given social group. Once they are approved, they could live in Arizona or any other state.

Between 2013 and 2015, around 25,000 people were granted asylum each year. Those of any immigration status can seek either of two kinds of asylum. For affirmative asylum, one must typically apply within a year of the last time he or she arrived in the country. However, one can apply later if an exceptional change in circumstance occurs. Defensive asylum occurs when fighting an order of deportation. More people are approved through affirmative asylum than defensive asylum.

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.

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