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Miami Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

What is dual citizenship?

Many Florida residents may desire to hold citizenship in the U.S. and another country. While the United States does not formally recognize dual citizenship, a Florida resident can still seek seek citizenship without any negative consequences.

Having dual citizenship means that someone is considered to be a citizen of two different countries. This has a number of benefits, including the ability to easily have residences in both countries and to be able to access government programs in both countries more easily. However, dual citizenship also can add complications. For example, someone with dual citizenship may have tax obligations to both countries. The only time a person may lose U.S. citizenship is if they attempt to harm the U.S.

E-2 visa may help foreign investors to immigrate quickly

Foreign business owners wishing to move to Florida or any other state in the union may be able to do so with an E-2 visa. Although employment immigration is often a difficult prospect, the E-2 visa makes moving the whole family to the United States relatively simple for those with sufficient means. Individuals who are able to make a business investment of about $200,000 can usually receive a 5-year E-2 visa in a few months time.

The first requirement for an E-2 visa is that the applicant hails from a nation that participates in an investment treaty with the United States. The applicant will then have to prove that they are capable of running a successful business in their home country and that they can continue to run the business smoothly once it is moved to the United States.

Children crossing the U.S. border strain resouces

Extreme poverty and gang violence in Central America, mainly in Honduras and Guatemala, is driving many desperate children to attempt to enter the United States from Mexico. Many of them have family in the United States and several groups are now working overtime to help reunite these children with their families and help with immigration petitions.

Due to the influx of unaccompanied minors, the U.S. government has opened military bases up to be used as shelters in Oklahoma, Texas and California. However, as the children find sponsors or are reunited with family, the burden is shifting to four major metropolitan areas. As a result, many non-profits are now scrambling to help families enroll the children in school and fill out necessary paperwork to remain in the country.

Entrepreneurial opportunities for immigrants

Florida could be a destination for immigrants who invest at least $500,000 in order to take part in the EB-5 investor visa program. Through this program, immigrants have the opportunity to set up businesses that create at least 10 jobs in economically struggling areas. They will be granted conditional permanent residency status and can bring immediate family members with them.

The program has been in existence since 1990 but has been underused. While it could be an excellent opportunity for cities in need of jobs and revitalization, both urban and rural areas have been slow to promote it. However, a change could be underway as recognition of the benefits of this program seems to be growing. A total of around 16,000 applicants have been approved, and 4,000 of those were in 2012.

Immigrants, refugees and paths to remaining in the United States

Individuals in Florida seeking to remain permanently in the United States may be eligible to do so as either immigrants or refugees. Although both are terms for people who leave one country to live in another, they describe different situations.

Technically, an immigrant is someone who chooses to move to another country while a refugee is a person who is forced to leave their home country because their life is in danger. However, in practice, the difference between immigrants and refugees is less clear. For example, each year, many people come to the United States from countries such as Honduras or Guatemala because they are fleeing drug-related violence and gangs. These individuals are generally not considered refugees however. In general, to be considered a refugee, a person has to be directly targeted for violence.

How a migrant child may be granted asylum in the U.S.

The fact that child migrants come from dangerous places is not enough for them to be granted asylum here in the U.S. In order to gain permission to stay, migrant children must demonstrate that they face direct persecution because of an affiliation with a specific group. Children who do not fit into that category often apply for Special Immigrant Juveniles Status instead.

There is a growing political rift over whether unaccompanied migrant children should be deported immediately or care should be taken to grant asylum to those children who are eligible for it. There are two principal legal options available to children who wish to stay in the U.S. The most common means for children to gain permanent residency is to receive Special Immigrant Juveniles Status. The purpose of SIJS is to provide aid to children who have been neglected, abused or abandoned.

The process of immigrants becoming U.S. citizens

Over 9,000 people were sworn in as United States citizens in ceremonies in Florida and throughout the country during the first week of July. Sites such as Mount Rushmore, the White House and the U.S.S. Midway welcomed people from Afghanistan, India and Iraq. At Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, 102 people were sworn in on July 4. As one newly minted citizen proclaimed, it was akin to getting married on New Year's Eve.

For many, the journey to become a United States citizen is a long and arduous one. The story of one 52-year-old man who was attacked by both Shias and Sunnis before leaving Iraq for a Syrian refugee camp is a typical one. Many people who fled to the United States did so to escape a life of poverty or war in their home countries.

Immigration status affects tuition rate in Florida

Some students at the University of Central Florida have immigrant status, but the type of status the student has makes a difference in whether they pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. The difference in the tuition price for in-state students is about $10,000 less than out-of-state students.

Some foreigners come to the U.S. as entrepreneurs to open a business or invest and, for this purpose, they may obtain an E-2 visa that permits them to live in the U.S. on a temporary basis. When the investment ends, they return to their country of origin. There is no limit on the amount of time the individuals may stay, and it could be measured in years. Their ability to work is not extended to their dependents. In Florida, after dependents become 21, if they are attending school they are no longer able to qualify for in-state tuition at UCF under their parents' E-2 status and must switch to F-1, also known as a student visa. Under the new visa, the individual now has legal status, but they have to pay out-of-state tuition if they want to study at UCF or other state colleges and universities.

Miami feels impact of surge in minor immigrants

Miami is one of 10 cities to which immigrant children crossing the Mexican border are being sent. With thousands of minors involved, the situation has reached a level that is reportedly stressing agencies involved in providing services during this immigration influx. Although the arrival of unaccompanied minors to the United States is far from a new concern, the numbers arriving in the last two years have increased dramatically. The majority of the children involved in the recent surge are from Central America. In some cases, they cross in groups, and in others, they cross with assistance from adults who are considered to be migrant smugglers.

In Miami, experts who work in assistance agencies note that the number of beds available in area shelters had to be increased approximately three months ago. Those working with these young people are interested in helping them find legal methods for remaining as residents and potentially seeking citizenship in the future.

Military bases providing shelter to detained child immigrants

Florida residents may have heard that President Obama has opened three military bases to temporarily house children who have been detained while trying to enter the United States illegally. Most of the children come from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. While they are entering the country without parents or relatives, in many cases, they already have a mother or father living in the United States.

Cecilia Munoz, the White House domestic policy director, has theorized that growing violence in those countries has led to the influx of children. Some of them are girls younger than 13. However, others counter that more children are entering because the United States may be changing immigration policies. In the meantime, the United States is trying to work with governments in Mexico and Central America to discourage children from making the journey.

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