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Jacksonville Immigration Blog

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.

Applying for health care could affect permanent residency

A new proposal by the current administration could affect the immigration status of millions of legal immigrants in the US. The plan, which is currently in the drafting stage, may make obtaining a green card more difficult for those in Jacksonville, Florida, on immigration visa status.

The plan targets legal immigrants who use or attempt to use government-created health and nutrition benefits along with a number of other financial benefits. Current immigration visa holders who obtain or seek to obtain Medicaid, government-subsidized health insurance, WIC benefits and tax credits associated with health insurance could be passed over for permanent residency under the new policy. It will not affect undocumented immigrants or refugees.

Companies sue the USCIS over new H-1B requirements

In Florida, many businesses rely on the H-1B visa program to secure employees. A memo that was released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in February may severely impact small staffing firms that rely on the H-1B visa program to get the workers that they need. A group of tech staffing firms have filed a lawsuit against the USCIS and are seeking an injunction to prevent the memo from being enforced.

According to the lawsuit, the tech staffing firms say that they will not be able to comply with the memo's added requirements. They believe that the requirements could cause their businesses to close. The memo states that companies must prove that their employees will be working in specialty occupations and will work under the same contract for the entire period of the H-1B visa.

Adjusting immigration status years after entry

Immigrants who have been living in Florida on an expired visitor's visa for many years may be wondering if it's possible to file for a green card. Even though they may be married to a U.S. citizen or have other grounds for a valid green card, they may hesitate to apply due to their overstay in the country. However, there is a process by which people who entered on a visitor visa can receive a green card.

The process, known as adjustment of status, can include an interview inside the United States. An individual is eligible to adjust their status if they are the spouse or immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, the unmarried child under 21 of a U.S. citizen or the parent of a U.S. citizen. One must also have entered the country legally on some form of valid visa. Those who entered on C or D nonimmigrant visas, on a K (fiance) visa but married someone else or as a transit without visa at the airport are excluded.

Employment immigration for businesses

Business owners in Florida may have foreign national workers as employees on a long-term or short-term basis. In order to obtain permanent residence or non-immigrant work visas, workers have to be qualified based on strict and complex criteria. Although immigration procedures are intended to aid companies in United States with procuring the skilled personnel they need from other countries, procedures for obtaining green cards or visas do not really pertain to business necessity.

To make sure that immigration laws are properly adhered to, foreign national workers and the companies who want to employ them should obtain legal counsel in the early stages of the hiring process. Any failure to comply with immigration requirements and laws, whether it is deliberate or not, can make a company legally liable for their missteps and could have a significant negative impact on the worker. Because of how long some immigration processes can take to complete, it is advisable for the parties involved to initiate the process long before the foreign national is to be employed.

L-1A visas can make it easier to transfer an employee to the U.S.

When your company is a thriving international entity, you may find reasons to hire international workers for your company's offices or operations in the United States. Sometimes, that could mean hiring new talent and requesting a visa for that professional's entry into the United States. Other times, that could mean transferring top talent from your divisions in other countries to your United States locations.

Securing visas for new hires can be a complicated process. Unless the professional in question qualifies for special visas, you may have to wait for selection from a lottery system. Thankfully, there are multiple worker visa programs, some of which are easier to participate in than others. For employees who already work for your company in another country, you could find securing an L-1A visa the simplest way to secure that person's entry into the United States.

Immigration program put on hold by DOJ

Those held in Florida or anywhere else awaiting pending immigration court proceedings don't have the right to an attorney. However, there was a program started in 2003 that held group sessions with detained immigrants to help them learn more about the immigration court system. The program, which costs about $8 million a year, was put on hold by the Department of Justice (DOJ) pending a further review.

According to the Vera Institute of Justice, the program helps over 50,000 people per year who are in detention. One of the benefits of the program is enabling immigrants to make decisions in an informed as well as timely manner. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University reports that there are over 600,000 immigration cases waiting to be heard. For many detainees, the program is the only source of legal information available to them while their cases unfold.

Caravan of migrants plan to seek asylum

Some people in Florida might have heard about a caravan of migrants moving through Mexico on their way to seek asylum in the United States. The operation has been criticized by President Donald Trump.

The migrants are fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. On April 9, they arrived in Mexico City, where many went to a Roman Catholic shrine to pray. There are at least 200 migrants in the caravan, and organizers say it is twice the number they anticipated. President Trump has said that the situation emphasizes Mexico's unwillingness to stop illegal immigration.

Lawsuit demands U.S. citizenship for American Samoans

If a new federal lawsuit succeeds, Florida residents who were born in American Samoa might gain an easy path to U.S. citizenship. The plaintiffs want access to the rights of citizenship given to people born in the United States as established by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

Currently, people born on the U.S. territory comprised of seven South Pacific islands only attain the status of U.S. nationals. Despite paying federal income taxes, they lack significant citizen rights, such as voting, running for public office or serving on a jury. American Samoa is the only U.S. territory where birth does not result in automatic citizenship.

Army vet with green card deported because of drug conviction

Floridians might have heard about the U.S. veteran who was recently deported to Mexico. The man, who came to the U.S. legally with his father when he was 8 years old, was deported because of a drug conviction.

According to news sources, the man never applied for citizenship and instead renewed his green card every few years. He enlisted in the army in 2001 just before 9/11. He later served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and received a general discharge after he was allegedly caught smoking marijuana on the base.

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