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Miami Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

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.

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.

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