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Orange County Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

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.

What are the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen?

Some California residents may be eligible to become U.S. citizens, but they may be unsure if taking that final step is worthwhile. Citizenship carries important benefits and may be worth the consideration of lawful permanent residents in the state.

In order to become a U.S. citizen, people must meet the eligibility requirements, including the ability to pass a test on certain items, a good understanding of U.S. civics and a good command of the English language. Those who meet all of the requirements may apply to become naturalized. They will then attend a ceremony and take an oath of allegiance after going through an interview.

What are the categories for employment-based immigrant visas?

There are five categories in which employment-based immigrant visas are divided. Persons wishing to work in or continue working in California under an employment-based immigrant visa might need to understand in which category they fall.

EB-1 applicants, or priority workers, must have an accepted Form I-140, which is filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They do not have to have labor certification from the Department of Labor. EB-2 applicants, or professionals with advanced degrees and immigrants with exceptional abilities, generally need labor certification. They must also be offered a job with a U.S. employer that files Form I-140 on the applicant's behalf. Applicants could apply for a National Interest Waiver, which avoids these requirements, and file Form I-140 with evidence that granting them visas is in the nation's best interest.

Children born abroad and U.S. citizenship

Establishing U.S. citizenship for a child who was born abroad may depend on the relationship between the parents at the time of the birth. It may also be affected by the citizenship of the parents at the time of the birth. California parents may want to keep these issues in mind if they will be out of the country near the time of a baby's due date.

Unmarried parents face greater challenges in establishing a child's citizenship than those who are married. In all cases, at least one parent must be a citizen at the time of the child's birth. The greatest challenges arise if an unmarried father is the only U.S. citizen as a legal blood relationship must be established. An unmarried parent who is a U.S. citizen at the time of the child's birth must also have spent a minimum of five years present in the U.S. or its territories. This can include employment abroad through the U.S. armed forces, the federal government or other specified international agencies. At least two years of residency must have occurred after age 14.

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