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Orange County Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Prosecutorial discretion in your immigration proceedings

During removal proceedings, immigration officials in California and around the country have the option of exercising prosecutorial discretion, which is the authority that Department of Homeland Security officials have to choose to stop removal proceedings. Immigration officials may use this power to close existing removal proceedings or decline to initiate new removal proceedings.

At our law firm, our attorneys help those who have been targeted for deportation to benefit from prosecutorial discretion. If you are facing a removal order, we may be able to help you seek relief by representing your interests during court proceedings. Since 2003, we have been helping clients to secure deportation waivers, have removal orders canceled and obtain asylum status.

Committing a felony may endanger immigration status

California residents may be interested in learning more about factors that can affect immigration status. The commission of certain crimes by foreign nationals may jeopardize their immigration status and, in some instances, lead to their deportation from the United States. As a general rule, immigration status can be changed if a non-citizen is convicted of a felony. Further, if a non-citizen is convicted of an "aggravated felony" or a crime involving "moral turpitude," the government may deport the non-citizen without an opportunity to dispute the deportation. The non-citizen may also be barred from entering the U.S. at any point in the future.

The terms aggravated felony and moral turpitude are specifically defined by U.S. immigration law. In some instances, crimes that qualify for one of these special categories of crimes do not even qualify as misdemeanors if committed by a citizen of the U.S. If a foreign national is convicted of a crime that the government later adds to the list of specified crimes, that individual's immigration status can be revised or revoked even though such crime was not actionable at the time the individual was convicted.

7,000 immigrant minors to be deported without court hearing

Some people in California might have heard that more than 7,000 immigrant minors are being deported even though they have not appeared in court. The minors crossed the border from Central American countries in 2013 without documentation.

Most of the kids are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and they left their homes to escape murder and gang violence. Now they face being sent back into those situations because they did not show up for their removal hearings.

Obama looking to change work visa rules for spouses

Orange residents who are interested in employment immigration issues may want more information about an important change that may be coming to U.S. immigration rules. This change, currently on appeal, may help spouses of immigrants find employment in the U.S.

About 85,000 skilled workers get an H-1B visa every year. These visas allow an immigrant to work in the U.S. when their domestic employer can show that there are no other qualified applicants already in the country. The H-1B visa also allows a path to permanent residency. On the other hand, the employee's spouse is allowed into the country on an H-4 visa. This does not give the spouse a social security number, which means that he or she is not legally permitted to work in the U.S. This can cause financial issues for some families who require two incomes to make ends meet.

Employment immigration in California

Immigration law provides a type of visa specifically geared to people who intend to come to the United States in order to work for a specific employer. Temporary work visas allow them to work in the United States for a limited period of time. There are different categories, some which may be sought by the prospective employee and some that may be sought by the prospective employer.

Many of the temporary work visas apply to specific occupations, primarily those that experience shortages. For example, the H1-A visa is a type of visa allowing registered nurses to work in the U.S. in response to a shortage of available nurses in the country. H1-B visas are allowed for specialty professions requiring a high degree of skill and knowledge. The baseline education must be a bachelor's degree at a minimum, and the position being sought must also require it as well. H-2 visas are reserved for fields in which there is a shortage of U.S. workers, including agriculture and other industries.

Scams aimed at immigrants

Individuals in California who are seeking to immigrate to the United States must exercise caution and try to avoid scams offering to smooth the path to immigration or provide services meant only to steal money from the unwary. Advice on immigration is only appropriate from an attorney or someone who is qualified to assist an immigrant in the process and authorized by the immigration appeals board.

Those seeking to immigrate or who hope to apply for a change of status may be aware of some scams being perpetrated with a false offer of assistance. One scam involves false postings or emails claiming that an individual may have obtained immigration through a lottery. While the U.S. State Department does operate an annual lottery, it carries strict requirements and applicants must apply themselves. In some cases, local businesses operate a storefront and may promise a guarantee to procure an individual's green card, visa or work document. While these businesses might actually fill out an application for immigration, it usually costs more than if the individual went through normal channels, and no guarantee exists.

Family-based immigration in California

In many cases, a U.S. citizen or a family member of one have goals to rejoin their relative through immigration. if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen or are the parent or child of one, you are probably wondering how to go about getting your green card so you can also live and work in the United States along with your loved one.

U.S. immigration law provides a way for you to bring your family back together through its family-based immigration visa program. Whether you need to apply at a consulate abroad or need to submit petitions in California, it is possible to do so through the I-130 visa program.

Court delays stall California immigration cases

An estimated 415,000 people awaiting decisions on whether or not they can lawfully remain in the country may have to wait until November of 2019 to see a judge in the wake of a flood of hearing cancellations. The problem began in 2014 when the US Department of Justice gave priority hearing status to specific types of Central American immigrants. Previously scheduled hearings in California and elsewhere were cancelled with little notice and rescheduled for November 29, 2019.

Previously the law only accorded detained immigrants priority status, but the new DOJ guidelines shift focus to families facing deportation and unaccompanied minors who have crossed U.S. borders. This affects undocumented workers, those operating under temporary visas and people fleeing to America to seek political asylum from war-torn nations.

Naturalization exceptions for qualified applicants

Applicants for citizenship who qualify may be exempt from certain requirements, while those with disabilities could be accommodated. Individuals applying for naturalization in California and having trouble meeting all of the requirements might be able to take advantage of these exceptions. There is a continuous residence requirement to become a U.S. citizen, but this could be waived if the applicant is engaged in certain overseas employment situations. All applicants who are approved for citizenship must take the Oath of Allegiance. In special circumstances, it could be modified to accommodate the applicant.

USCIS provides accommodations for applicants who are mentally or physically impaired. These changes are made to requirements that make it hard for the impaired applicant to complete the process of naturalization. For example, an applicant who has a developmental disability might get an exemption from the English and civics test requirements. The individual's physician or clinical psychologist can request this exemption on Form N-648.

Immigration for religious workers

As some California residents may know, foreign nationals who are religious workers might immigrate to the United States if certain conditions are met. In addition, the worker's spouse and children are allowed to accompany them.

This immigration classification includes both non-ministers and ministers in religious organizations and falls under an employment-based or EB-4 visa. Such religious occupations or vocations must be considered full-time compensated positions that average 35 hours per week, which might or might not involve a salary. The work may be of either a non-professional or a professional nature.

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