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Jacksonville Immigration Blog

Sponsors taking in detained children face high costs

Florida is home to many immigrants, and many of them had to meet requirements set by U.S. immigration authorities. The family separation policy adopted by the Trump administration has resulted in the detention of many children. They can, in some cases, secure their release if a relative based in the United States will sponsor them. The process, however, requires rigorous background checks and substantial costs, including high fees for transportation and escorts.

Before a sponsor can receive a detained child, the person must provide proof of blood relation to the child and sufficient income to support a child. An approved sponsor must also accept home visits from immigration officials. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also recently insisted that sponsors supply their fingerprints. Furthermore, ICE may fingerprint any adult in the sponsor's household. The chilling effect of these requirements has reduced the number of child sponsors coming forward because they fear immigration enforcement actions against themselves or household members.

Visas and overstays

Visas are only valid for a certain length of time. Foreign nationals in Florida whose visas have expired are generally considered to be the United States illegally. However, there are certain cases in which an overstay on their record will not have a negative impact on whether they will be allowed back into the country in the future, even if they incur penalties for their overstay.

The period of time during which a foreign national in the country illegally is used to determine how long they will be classified as inadmissible to return to the country. However, a toll can be placed on the length of time the individual remains in the country unlawfully if they have been legally paroled or admitted to the country, was a minor during the period in which they were in the country unlawfully, have an asylum application pending with the USCIS or is a recipient of a family unity program.

Trump travel ban upheld by Supreme Court

Florida residents may have heard that the Supreme Court has ruled on President Trump's most recent executive order banning entry to immigrants from seven countries. In a 5-4 decision, the court found that this action was not based on religious hostility despite assertions from critics that it was discriminatory towards Muslims. Justice Roberts wrote that the order was a legitimate attempt to deny entry to those who could not be properly vetted.

He also said that the presence of countries with majority Muslim populations by itself wasn't enough to prove discrimination based on religious grounds. The travel ban applies to individuals seeking to enter the country from Libya, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen. Chad was on the list at one point but was removed from the most recent order that was upheld. President Trump replied on Twitter saying that the ruling was "profound vindication."

Views on H-1B immigrant workers are mixed

Immigrant workers in Florida holding H-1B visas receive permission to enter the country because their employers need their skills, which are usually unavailable or in short supply among American citizens. Nationwide, many people believe these immigrant workers take jobs that could have gone to Americans. A survey conducted by a newspaper and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group found that 45 percent of respondents held this view.

Respondents residing in Silicon Valley, where the technology industry employs many H-1B visa holders, regarded these immigrants in a more positive light. Only 23 percent of people living in the Bay Area thought that employment visas for skilled workers prevented Americans from finding work.

Spousal immigration – the basics

Every year, people come from all over the world to live in the United States. Like you, some people come for professional job opportunities and leave their families behind. And like you, many immigrants plan to eventually bring their families to also live in here. While the process can seem incredibly complicated, with the right help, you will be able to get through it smoothly.

Fortunately, current U.S. immigration laws grant higher priority to the spouses and immediate family members of legal residents. If you have obtained your U.S. citizenship or have legal residency status, you can file an immigration visa petition to bring over your spouse and children.

Exploring the naturalization test

As part of the process of becoming a United States citizen, a Florida resident may need to take a naturalization test. This test generally requires a person to show that he or she can read, write and speak in English. The speaking part of the test occurs during an interview with an immigration officer while the writing component includes writing a sample sentence or two. Form N-400 is used to determine how well a person can read.

In addition to a language section, there is also a civics component to the naturalization test. Individuals will be required to answer basic questions about United States history such as identifying the Bill of Rights or when the president is inaugurated. If a person fails one or both portions of the test, it is possible to take it again. The second test will generally take place 60 to 90 days after the first one occurred.

Investor and entrepreneur immigration program to end

Some people in Florida may be concerned about the proposed end of the International Entrepreneur Rule program. This program enabled some immigrants to bypass procedures in order to come to the U.S. to create or invest in businesses, especially startups. The rule allows the Department of Homeland Security secretary to grant foreign nationals entry and work authorization in the country if their presence will provide "significant public benefits." While the program was initiated under the Obama administration, the Trump administration has opposed it.

In a statement from DHS, the department proposed eliminating the rule, saying that it has an overly broad interpretation of parole authority in U.S. immigration law. In addition, the department claims that the rule is "not the appropriate vehicle" for bringing international investors and businesses to the U.S. In general, the parole authority of DHS is used on a case-by-case basis, often for humanitarian reasons. While there is an exception for significant public benefit, the department argues that this rule created a structured program that was not an appropriate use of temporary parole.

Senate bill addresses green card waiting times

Immigrant advocacy groups in Florida and around the country have long claimed that the government's system for processing permanent residency applications and issuing green cards is unfair. Under the current quota system, no more than 7 percent of the 140,000 employment-based green cards available each year can be issued to immigrants from any single country. This has led to a situation where immigrants from large countries like India and China face green card waiting times of up to 70 years.

American employers are among the most vocal critics of the current employment-based green card allocation system because workers possessing the skills they need often hail from the countries most affected by it. Republican Senator Orin Hatch added his voice to the calls for reform in a May 22 speech. Hatch told Compete America, which advocates on behalf of employers, that the current system unfairly discriminates against immigrants from some of the world's most populous and innovative nations and creates unhealthy imbalances in American workplaces.

ACLU files lawsuit on behalf of detained immigrants

Florida residents are likely aware that the Trump administration's immigration policies have been the subject of much contentious debate. Immigrant advocacy groups have criticized the way U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents enforce these policies, and a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on May 17 alleges that the federal agency has routinely ignored its own policies and guidelines since the inauguration.

Under the Obama administration, those with legitimate reasons for seeking asylum in the United States were generally released on humanitarian parole while they awaited their immigration hearings. However, the granting of this type of parole virtually stopped at five key immigration offices after Trump took office according to the ACLU. The advocacy group says that even asylum seekers who pose no threat to the community and are not considered flight risks are being held in immigration detention centers.

The future for young undocumented immigrants in Florida

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has protected over 790,000 "dreamers" from deportation, and has allowed many of them to pursue education and work in the United States. However, the Trump administration has shown some effort toward ending the DACA program, which has left many beneficiaries of the program distressed about their future in the United States.

If you are protected by the DACA program, it is important that you keep up to date with the political events surrounding the program, since you may have to take action regarding it in order to avoid deportation.

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