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Washington, DC, Immigration Law Blog

The naturalization process is not as simple as some may think

It is not unusual for individuals who do not understand the immigration process to claim that immigrants should simply obtain citizenship if they want to remain in the United States. However, there is nothing simple about the naturalization process. Individuals in Washington, D.C., and other parts of the country who want to become citizens often must wait years to reach this goal.

The ability to apply for citizenship is only obtainable after a person meets the eligibility requirements. Generally, these requirements include being at least 18 years old, being a permanent resident of the United States and having held a green card for at least five years. These stipulations mean that immigrants already have to wait years and take numerous steps before they can even begin the naturalization process.

New asylum process creates difficulties

People in other countries in less fortunate circumstances often view places like Washington, D.C. as the answer to their prayers -- a place where they can live safely without fear for their lives. As such, they make plans to seek asylum in the United States. Unfortunately, some people argue that a new program recently put into place makes the process of making such requests much more complicated.

The program began in January and is called Migrant Protection Protocols. Though some groups have requested a judge to place a restraining order on aspects of the program, a hearing has yet to be held, meaning that the plan is in full force. However, some reports claim that a recent hearing, known as a master calendar hearing, reveals some issues with the program.

Understanding the recent changes to the H-1B visa lottery

If you are familiar with the H-1B visa lottery, you may know how competitive the process can be. Prospective employers looking to hire foreign nationals should file for a Labor Condition Application (LCA) before they can petition to join thousands of others in the lottery. Only 85,000 applicants are granted visas, where 65,000 spots are reserved for those with bachelor's degrees, and 20,000 are reserved for those with master's degrees or higher.

This past year, the Trump Administration introduced new rules to the lottery that would prioritize H-1B visa applicants with highly specialized skills. Whether you are an employer or a recent graduate, it is worth taking note of these changes and understanding how they may impact your chances in the lottery. 

Seeking asylum in the United States

When many people arrive in Washington, DC, or other areas of the country, they are often in fear for their lives. Often, they have fled violence in their own home and want nothing more than to set up a new, safe life in the United States. Unfortunately, the process of seeking asylum can seem overwhelming in the best of circumstances, but certainly to those who are trying to cope with the trauma they experienced in their homeland.

The ability to seek asylum is available to people who are either arriving in the country or are already physically present. The request can be made at a port-of-entry (such as an airport or border crossing), or the seeker can submit a Form I-589 at a Service Center. The asylum request must be made within a year of the applicant's arrival, unless it can be proved that there are extraordinary circumstances, such as changes in the person's home country or personal circumstances.

Thousands denied visas due to President Trump's travel ban

People from other countries frequently want a visa to allow them to come to Washington, D.C. and other areas in the country. Some may come for temporary reasons, such as tourism, while others want to join a spouse or other loved one permanently. Unfortunately, recently released data shows that President Trump's travel ban has resulted in the denial of thousands of visas.

The Trump administration first proposed the ban on travelers from several countries, many of which are Muslim-majority countries, just after he came into office. Though the ban as initially proposed faced several challenges, the U.S. Supreme Court approved a version of it in June 2017. As a result, the government denied over 15,000 applications for immigrant visas and over  21,000 non-immigrant visas in 2018. Reports indicate that there were only 1,000 denials in the year before the ban went fully into effect.

Change Status out of G-4 to Non-Immigrant Visa

For many G-4 visa holders in the Washington, DC area, after a few years of working for an international organization like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, or United Nations, they may decide to seek a different non-immigrant visa in the U.S. They may choose to continue their studies as an F-1 Student or even enter the private sector as an H-1B Temporary Worker. However, as members of international organizations, they are entitled to certain immunities and privileges which must be waived before they can officially change status.

Seeking asylum to protect the future

For many people in other countries, a move to Washington, D.C., or other areas of the country does not simply represent the potential of experiencing new opportunities. For many, the decision to leave their home is one of life and death. Unfortunately, many people find the process of seeking asylum daunting. With the potential implications of being unsuccessful, many turn to the compassionate services of Chong Immigration Law, PLLC.

A successful asylum request allows an alien to stay in the United States with a pathway towards permanent residence and citizenship. This is allowed because the person faced past persecution or could face future persecution in their home country or the last county in which he or she lived. There are several types of persecution that a person can face.

The requirements for obtaining green cards

For many people, the United States represents opportunity to lead a happier, safer, and more fulfilling life. For this reason, individuals may seek lawful permanent residence, also known as a Green Card, here in the U.S. Potential immigrants should be aware, though, that it can be a lengthy and complicated process to reach this goal and create a new life in Washington, DC or other areas of the country.

With a few exceptions, the means by which one can obtain a Green Card are broken down into three categories: employment-based, family-based, and asylum/special immigrant options. Most of these options require a sponsor -- either an employer or close relative -- but there are some categories in which a person can self-petition. An officer may have to review many factors such as ties to the U.S., employment and education history, and specific skills in order to determine eligibility in any of these categories.

President hints at direct naturalization path for H-1B visa holders

Many people living outside to the United States want nothing more than to start a new life in pursuit of the American dream in Washington, D.C. and other areas of the country. Unfortunately, the options to do so legally are sometimes limited. Many would argue that President Trump's administration has made it even more difficult for those to do it. Adding to the confusion, in seeming contradiction to recent DHS policy, the President recently made a social media post that indicates he is considering changes that could impact H-1B visa holders, potentially even offering them a direct path to naturalization.

H-1B non-immigrant visas are issued to temporary workers who are highly educated and work in specialized fields. These workers are often employed in technology. Annually, 85,000 of these visas are issued for workers at for-profit companies. This cap does not apply to certain non-profit companies such as research institutions and hospitals affiliated with universities.

Bringing your foreign national fiancé to the United States

Being in a long-distance relationship with your fiancé can be particularly challenging if you both live in different countries. Communicating regularly across time zones can be hard, and traveling internationally to see each other can quickly become financially straining.

If you are a U.S. citizen, however, you may consider bringing your fiancé over on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, otherwise known as the fiancé visa. The K-1 visa status would allow your fiancé of foreign nationality to come into the country as your partner and would recognize his or her right to live with you in the United States. To find out if you are eligible to petition for the K-1 visa, consider the following guidelines:

  • The Bar Association Of District Of Columbia
  • nglcc certified LGBTBE
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
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