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Phoenix Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

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.

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.

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