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Miami Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Replacing a green card

Florida residents who find themselves needing to replace a green card may be interested in knowing more about the process. Because a green card provides proof of immigration status and authorization to live and work in the country, it is important that permanent residents carry this form of identification with them at all times. According to information supplied by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, individuals over the age of 18 who do not have a valid green card in their possession could be subject to misdemeanor charges.

A green card may need to be replaced for a number of reasons. It could be lost, stolen or damaged, or the immigrant's status may have changed from commuter to permanent resident. The biographic information contained on the card may have been legally changed, or the original card may have contained errors. In some cases, a previously issued card may no longer be valid once an individual reaches the age of 14, and some earlier forms of the alien registration card are outdated and must be replaced. It is also possible that some intended recipients never received the green cards that were originally issued.

Permanent residency for children of foreign diplomats

Special citizenship rules apply to individuals born in Florida or elsewhere in the U.S. to foreign diplomats who are officially assigned to the United States. Children of foreign diplomats, that is, are not considered U.S. citizens at birth even if they are born on U.S. soil. They may, however, be eligible for a green card as a permanent resident.

To qualify as a foreign diplomat, the parent's title must be included on the State Department Diplomatic List. The titles there listed are ambassador, counselor, charge d'affaires, embassy secretary or attache and delegate of the Commission of European Communities. Foreign diplomats assigned to the Organization of American States or the United Nations may also qualify if they have comparable diplomatic immunity and status.

Filing a 601 waiver to avoid deportation

When immigrants are found to be living in Florida unlawfully, they might be targeted for deportation. Furthermore, they will usually be inadmissible to the U.S. for 10 years after they are deported. Following the 10-year ban, a person who is dpeorted may be able to reenter the U.S. and possibly obtain legal residency.

Deportation and a 10-year ban from the U.S. may be avoided by filing a 601 waiver for extreme hardship. If the person targeted for deportation can prove that becoming inadmissible to the U.S. would cause extreme hardship to a legal resident or citizen of the U.S., they might be allowed to remain in the country. While deportation is deferred to avoid an extreme hardship, the deferment does not guarantee that an immigrant will be granted permanent legal residency.

Obama responds to immigration concerns at Florida forum

At a televised town hall forum on immigration in Miami on Feb. 25, President Obama responded to concerns about enforcement of new immigration policies. The Obama administration launched several new initiatives in November that will affect millions of undocumented immigrants and make it easier for them to obtain work permits and remain in the United States.

A Texas judge temporarily blocked the programs, and it has joined 25 additional states in suing the president. The states say they cannot afford the extra cost and that Obama has overstepped his executive power. Republicans in Congress have also attempted to push through legislation blocking the initiatives, but Democrats have not let the legislation through. According to Obama, his executive actions are only temporary, and Congress needs to pass more permanent immigration reform legislation.

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.

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