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Miami Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

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.

Understanding the types of family immigration visas under US law

Miami residents who wish to bring family members into the country may be interested in information about family immigration visas. Depending on the type of relationship, the number who may enter the country in any given year could be limited.

United States immigration law recognizes two types of family-based immigrant visas. The types of family members covered under an immediate relative immigrant visa include a spouse and unmarried children that have not yet turned 21. Orphans who have been or are being adopted by a U.S. citizen may also be allowed into the U.S. under these visa laws. Lastly, a U.S. citizen's parent who is over 21 years old may get an immediate relative immigrant visa. U.S. law allows an unlimited number of immigrants who qualify under these categories every year.

Florida real estate market could benefit from immigration action

As President Obama's efforts lead to immigration changes, experts indicate that Miami could experience an increase in real estate activity and development. The President's immigration reform includes recommendations for expanding EB-5 visas or implementing similar options for investors.

Foreign investments of at least $500,000 in approved real estate projects, which would also result in significant job creation in the U.S., allow the potential for an individual to seek citizenship. Florida reports indicate that this visa is being increasingly used in connection with both commercial and residential real estate development, especially in Miami. Investment is coming from Latin American countries as well as from Europe. Florida officials note that more investment in the area can be a positive influence on Miami's economy. In fact, the demand for such visas has been significant enough that the city has created a center to oversee related needs.

The process of obtaining asylum

Florida residents who are refugees from their home country may be interested in some information on the application process for asylum. This requires timely filing of forms and other legal matters, but the benefits of avoiding persecution in another country and the ability to bring family members for asylum can be great.

Those who are facing serious persecution in their home country may seek asylum in the United States. This persecution can come from any number of recognized causes. Political opinions, race, religion, group membership and nationality are all reasons that people have emigrated to the U.S. as refugees. However, in order to have this refugee status recognized and asylum granted, the specific process dictated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must be followed.

President Obama announces immigration plan

On Nov. 20, President Barack Obama released an immigration plan that may affect those who have either already settled in Florida or who are attempting to immigrate to Florida. In the address, Obama agreed that the current immigration system was not working and that changes needed to be made.

The plan would reportedly provide protection against deportation against approximately 5 million people who have children who are U.S. citizens. The plan would reportedly defer deportation action for 3-year periods, with the condition that the person had been in the United States for at least five years and on agreement that they would pay taxes. They would also be required to pass a criminal background check. The deferred action would also grant work authorization for those who were eligible.

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