Those living in Arizona or any other state as a permanent resident may not have thought much about becoming a full citizen. However, as a result of recent immigration policies, the number of applications for naturalization is on the rise. In Minnesota alone, there has been an increase of 88 percent since 2016. To apply for citizenship, an individual needs to wait two years, pass a test and take part in a naturalization ceremony.
People in Arizona who are concerned with LGBT rights and immigration issues may be disturbed to learn about a Trump administration policy announcement concerning diplomatic visas for the same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats. The administration ordered unmarried domestic partners to marry before the end of 2018 or lose their visas and ability to stay in the country. The policy would apply to foreign diplomats and United Nations employees, whose unmarried same-sex partners were given until Dec. 31 to show proof of marriage to the State Department.
Those wishing to enter Arizona or immigrants already residing in the country legally could experience trouble getting visas or green cards if they collect public benefits. The Trump administration has put forward a new rule that would alter an existing law that already curtailed the ability of immigrants to get documentation to live in the country if they had received cash benefits. After the public comment period, the proposed rule could expand the disqualifying benefits to include food assistance, Section 8 housing vouchers, Medicaid or the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy.
Making the adjustment to the American way of life can be difficult for some lawful permanent resident immigrants as they take the necessary steps to become U.S. citizens. One aspect of which many immigrants are experiencing first-hand is the often cumbersome American bureaucracy. Although there has a backlog for years, since the Trump administration has assumed the reins of power, the time required to become a citizen has doubled or tripled in Arizona and most areas of the country. In sections where there are large immigrant communities, the wait could be four to six times as long.
The debate over immigration has been contentious in Arizona and around the country since Donald Trump announced that he would be running for president in 2015, and the row over H1-B visas has been particularly fierce. These are the employment-based visas that allow companies to attract job candidates from overseas when workers with the necessary skills cannot be found locally, but critics of the program say that technology firms in particular take advantage of H1-B visas and use them to bring in cheap foreign labor instead of paying fair market rates to Americans.
The Trump administration's hardline immigration stance has resulted in many deportations from Arizona and the rest of the nation. While the government may try to claim that the immigration policies are focused on law and order, that claim is belied by the recent focus on deporting undocumented immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens.
Those who enter the United States in Arizona or other recognized locations may request asylum upon arrival. The first step in obtaining asylum is the credible fear interview. This is when an individual shows evidence such as physical wounds to a government agent. However, there is no guarantee that a person will be found credible. One woman was denied despite showing scars and a hand with missing fingers after an attack in Honduras.
Many Arizona residents were shocked to learn that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were separating the children of undocumented immigrants from their parents at the Mexican border, and they may have been relieved when a national backlash prompted the Trump administration to abandon the controversial policy. However, a new outcry ensued when it emerged that reunited immigrant families were being deported without delay.
Non-citizens who visit or work in Arizona sometimes have concerns about overstaying their visas. In general, there can be severe legal consequences for not departing the United States before the visa has expired. There are some circumstances under which overstaying a visa may incur minor penalties.
People in Arizona who are not U.S. citizens but have secured permanent resident status should keep their green cards in good standing. The two main ways that green card holders can jeopardize their permanent residencies are by violating the law or spending extended periods of time outside of the United States.