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Miami Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Federal immigration court backlog reaches record high

The United States saw a massive surge in undocumented immigrants from Central America last summer. This has contributed to the backlog in federal immigration courts being even worse. In fact, it is currently at a record high, with over 445,000 cases pending. This figure represents an increase of almost 30 percent from Oct. 1, 2013.

Part of the reason why courts are so backed up is due to over 68,500 unaccompanied Central American children who entered the United States through Mexico. However, these cases received priority, and cases of undocumented minors sped through the system during the immigration surge.

What is family-based immigration?

Bringing family members into the United States from other countries means that you will have to go through the family immigration process. Family immigration is used to bring immediate family members into the country with a green card. In some cases, even family members who aren't classified as immediate family members can be eligible for family-based immigration.

Which relatives are eligible for family-based immigration?

Visa for athletes participating in a competition

Foreign athletes who would like to come to Florida to participate in a sports competition may qualify for a P-1A Internationally Recognized Athlete visa. This visa may be issued to an athlete who is coming into the U.S. to compete individually or as part of a team. In order to qualify for a P-1A visa, the applicant must be internationally recognized for their athletic achievements, and the competition they are planning to participate in must be distinguished.

The process of securing a P-1A visa begins when the athlete's U.S. employer files a Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker. The petitioner may be an agent for multiple employers as long as they are authorized to act as this type of agent. Along with the petition, the petitioner must include supporting documents that prove that the athlete has a contract to participate in a major U.S. sports event.

Our legals services could help individuals seek employment visas

For those who are interested in immigrating to Florida or who want to work in the U.S., there are a number of legal issues that must be addressed. It is important for those who are interested in legal immigration or in work visas and those who want to start a business in Florida to have the help of an immigration attorney. Our firm may be able to help you understand the complex laws associated with moving to the U.S.

There are a wide range of legal options available to those who want to live and work in Florida. For example, E-1 treaty visas, H-1B professional visas and EB-5 investor visas are all available for individuals who are seeking entry into the U.S. L-1 visas also allow for transfers of workers from a foreign branch of a company to the U.S. Blanket L-1 visas that allow companies to bring over a large group of workers without filing an individual application for each person.

Current work-based visa program may limit economic growth

Individuals who are planning to immigrate to Florida on an employment-based visa may be interested to learn that the U.S. has received approximately 233,000 H-1B applications for the 2016 fiscal year. These applicants will compete for the Congress-mandated maximum of 85,000 work visas offered annually.

According to estimates from Compete America, the current caps limit economic growth and result in a loss of about 500,000 jobs in the U.S. every year. The advocacy group, which represents a number of tech companies, such as Amazon and Microsoft, has lobbied for an increase in the cap. However, one source suggests that reform is unlikely in the current political climate, and a number of labor organizations suggest that a cap increase would limit wage growth in the sector.

Applying for a fiancé visa

A foreign-born individual who would like to come to Florida in order to marry a U.S. citizen may be able to qualify for a fiancé visa. Before a fiancé visa can be issued, the foreign person's fiancé must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. Once the petition is approved, the foreign fiancé will receive a K-1 nonimmigrant visa so that they can enter the United States.

A fiancé visa allows a person to enter the U.S. for up to 90 days so that they can marry their U.S. citizen fiancé. If the marriage does not take place sometime during those 90 days, the alien fiancé must return to their home country or they will be in violation of U.S. immigration law. The stay allowed on a fiancé visa cannot be extended any longer than 90 days.

Employment-based immigration visas for foreign journalists

Social and political issues in Florida and around the country are followed closely by people all over the world, and foreign media companies must send journalists and their support staff to America if they wish to cover these stories effectively. Conventional employment-based visas may not be appropriate for the work performed by media representatives, so immigration authorities provide the I visa to allow journalists and television crews to complete their assignments.

Applications for this nonimmigrant visa are made at the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate located in the home country of the media representative, and a consular official must be convinced that the individual concerned performs essential duties. Media representatives are required to obtain an I visa to work in America even if they are citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program, and they may be denied entry into the United States by immigration officials if they fail to do so.

Application for renewal of a green card

Some Florida residents may know that a green card signifies that its holder is a U.S. permanent resident and one who is able to lawfully reside in and work in this country. A green card serves as proof of one's immigration status and must be renewed.

Some green cards are valid for 10 years. While it may be renewed after the expiration date, it is preferable to renew it in the six-month period before it expires. It is possible to file from within the United States to renew the card online using Form I-90 or using a paper Form I-90. Afterward, it is possible to check online or by telephone to see the application's status. Some immigrants may have a conditional permanent resident card, which is valid for two years. In order to remain in the United States as a permanent resident, the holder must file an I-751 form at least 90 days before it expires asking that the conditions be removed. The conditional permanent resident card cannot be renewed.

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.

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