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Washington, DC, Immigration Law Blog

Green cards plan intended to attract "top talent"

Most people in Washington, DC are aware of the role that the topic of immigration has held in national discourse over the last several years. Despite both political parties wanting reform, it seems that neither can come to an agreement over what appropriate reform should entail. Along these lines, President Trump has recently proposed a change that would impact how green cards are awarded.

Under the current system, there is a great deal of emphasis placed on family ties. For example, approximately 66% of green cards are given to those with family ties. As a result, President Trump -- who issued the recent proposal -- has made blanket claims that those with professional skills are often overlooked. His plan would rethink the current system, prioritizing those with degrees, job offers and high-level skills over those with relatives who already reside within the country.

Asylum in the United States

There are people traveling to areas of the United States, including Washington, DC, because they want a better life than they have in their country. In fact, some people are fleeing violence that could ultimately result in their death. Unfortunately, they may find upon arrival that the asylum process is complicated to navigate on their own.

An asylee meets the definition of a refugee -- an international standard. That means, he or she has a credible fear of persecution based on their race, nationality, religion, membership in a particular social group or nationality. The main difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee is that the former seeks protection from a port of entry or inside of the country while the latter applies while outside of the country.

Not all US work visas created equally

Immigrating to the United States and beginning a career is a dream for people from all over the world. The U.S. economy is growing and unemployment is low. However, getting a job in America as a foreigner takes some work.

To qualify for most U.S. work visas, you usually must already have a job offer. But depending on your career field, your country of origin, or your education level, you might be privy to certain visas.

Man with green card granted Supreme Court hearing

Many people living in Washington, D.C. and other areas of the country spent years longing for better lives. They ultimately make the move to the United States in hopes of a new start that will allow them to live a happier, more fulfilling life. Unfortunately, the processes that govern whether a person can earn and keep a green card, thus allowing the individual to be a permanent resident can often be overwhelming.

In fact, one man who is facing deportation isĀ taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. He reportedly came to this country on a tourist visa in May 1989. Three years later, he became a lawful permanent resident.

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.

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