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Miami Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Florida-backed lawsuits stalls Obama immigration plan

A lawsuit brought against the Obama administration by 26 states produced a ruling stating that President Obama's executive authority did not override the authority of Congress. The presiding judge likened the president's initiatives to a genie in a bottle and criticized the Obama administration for not opening the programs to public input or commentary prior to the attempt at implementation.

The Obama administration plans to request a stay of the ruling through the U.S. Department of Justice. A key program in the immigration reform plan, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was slated for expansion and broader outreach to immigrants brought to the U.S. unlawfully as children. Another, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, was to begin taking applications as early as May. Critics of the programs note that children brought to the U.S. illegally are often placed with relatives living in the U.S., regardless of immigration status.

Immigrant workers who take priority for employment visas

About 140,000 applicants are qualified for employment-based immigrant visas every year. Of these visas, 28.6 percent go to priority workers. Immigrant workers who wish to apply for an employment visa in Florida as first preference applicants must fall into one of three sub-categories.

The first sub-category includes workers who have extraordinary abilities in education, athletics, arts, science and business. These applicants must have enough documentation to demonstrate domestic or international recognition or acclaim for their expertise. They do not require job offers prior to applying as long as they enter the country to continue working in their specialty areas.

Applying for the Exchange Visitor Program

Individuals who wish to come to Florida as exchange visitors may be able to do so under the Exchange Visitor Program. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of State. The purpose of this program is to facilitate the exchange of skills and knowledge in the fields of science, arts and education. Public and private entities may be designated by the Department of State to act as exchange sponsors.

Exchange visitors may be camp counselors, nannies, au pairs, specialists, teachers, trainees, students, research assistants, scholars, professors or other individuals. An individual who wishes to visit the United States as an exchange visitor will need to obtain a J-1 visa. To do this, the individual will need to submit a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. In addition, the person will need to work closely with individuals from the sponsoring agency.

Broadcasters and Florida immigration

Federal immigration law provides for special visas to be granted to certain classes of professionals who wish to work in the United States. Known as EB-4 visas, this type of access to the country are generally held for religious and medical workers, broadcasters and members of the Armed Forces. However, other classifications may be eligible for this type of visa as well.

To qualify for an EB-4 immigration visa, the prospective visa holder's intended employer is typically required to file for this visa on the employee's behalf using Form 1-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. Under certain circumstances, the visa candidate may self-apply and include one's spouse and any children under 21 who are not married.

The naturalization ceremony as the final step

People in Florida who are working towards naturalization as U.S. citizens generally know that the final step involves the naturalization ceremony, but they may not know what to expect. Prior to being scheduled to attend the ceremony, the other steps, including taking the civics and language tests as well as sitting for the naturalization interview, will need to be completed.

In some cases, a person will be fortunate enough to be scheduled for the naturalization ceremony the very same day the interview is completed. Others should expect to receive a notice of their scheduled date and time in the mail. A person who is unable to attend the scheduled date and time must return the notice along with a written request for a new date and time. An explanation as to why the ceremony cannot be attended as scheduled must also be enclosed. A new date will then be given. If two scheduled ceremonies are missed, the naturalization application will be denied.

Religious workers and special immigrant visas

Some foreign religious workers intending on accepting jobs in Florida churches and associated charitable organizations have a special immigration visa available to them. In order to qualify, the religious worker as well as the religious organization must meet certain criteria established under the law.

Non-minister religious worker visas are capped at 5,000 per year nationwide. Those entering the U.S. for purposes of acting as a minister are not subject to a cap, however. In order to qualify, the foreign religious worker must have been a member of the U.S. religious organization for a minimum of two years prior to filing the petition. He or she must be planning to work on a full time, compensated basis as a minister, in a religious vocation or occupation either in a professional or nonprofessional position or be entering to work for a bona fide religious organization operating in the country.

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

For immigrants who are living in Florida and throughout the United States, the pathway to citizenship may appear quite daunting. However, once a person becomes an American citizen, he or she can experience many benefits as outlined in the U.S. Constitution and federal laws. As part of the naturalized process, prospective citizens are required to take the Oath of Allegiance before they can enjoy the privileges and benefits of citizenship. In the oath, they promise to swear allegiance to the United States of America, which entails resigning any former allegiance to another government or nation. Moreover, they promise to uphold and protect the U.S. Constitution and laws and to serve to the country when necessary.

Some of the benefits an American citizen has a right to enjoy include voting privileges in state and federal elections and traveling freedoms and protections via a U.S. passport. Citizenship also gives a person greater abilities in petitioning immediate family members such as spouses, parents and underage children to enter the United States permanently. Any dependent child of a person becoming a citizen is automatically deemed a U.S. citizen as well, even if the child is outside the country.

Examining the government's Diversity Immigration Visa Program

Miami residents may be interested in a program that allows certain categories of immigrants to apply for permanent residency. The random selection process, however, is just the beginning for those who have been chosen.

The U.S. Department of State operates a program called the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program that allows up to 50,000 immigration visas each year. The selection of these 50,000 immigrants is done through a lottery that randomly chooses among applicants from countries with low immigration numbers in order to increase diversity.

How does one obtain a green card after receiving a job offer?

Job opportunities in Florida might be available to those who are not citizens of the United States, but appropriate residency status may be necessary to facilitate an acceptance of a position. Both job applicants and employers may wonder about the process for securing a green card in connection with the prospective employment opportunity. The approach may depend on the candidate's location in or out of the country.

An individual who is living outside of the country will need to go through consular processing with a Form I-140 petition to seek permission for employment immigration. This is called a Petition for Alien Worker and is typically submitted by an employer on behalf of a prospective employee. An individual who is already legally living in the United States will also need Form I-140 to be approved. With this approval, it will also be necessary to file Form I-485. This application is used to register or adjust one's permanent status.

International adoption and visa requirements

When a Florida couple intends to adopt a child from a foreign country, the couple will need to make certain they have sought and obtained the required visas for their child. Children who are being adopted from abroad are required to enter the country on an immigrant visa.

There are different child immigrant visas that may be issued, depending on whether the child comes from a Hague Convention country or a non-Hague Convention country. Children whose adoptions are finalized in a Hague Convention country need an IH-3 visa from the U.S. embassy or consular office in the foreign country. Those who are immigrating to the U.S. from a Hague country whose adoptions will be finalized after arrival will require an IH-4 visa.

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