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Washington, DC, Immigration Law Blog

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:

Seeking family visas for spouses, fiancees

Washington, D.C. is a place with international appeal. Often, people will travel from all over the world to visit or work here. Additionally, those living in the area may choose to explore the world, resulting in a romantic relationship with someone who is not a citizen of this country. The desire for a couple who is engaged or married is to be together, often meaning they need to seek family visas.

A person may choose to seek a family visa for a sibling or parent. However, petitions for the husband or spouse of a U.S. citizen are often more successful and succeed more quickly than other forms of immigration petitions for family members. Unfortunately, making a mistake when filing for a Green Card for a spouse or K-1 visa for a fiance can have significant implications on the success of the request.

Jobs for F-1 visa STEM students are harder to find

We know there is a labor shortage, especially among STEM workers. We know hundreds of thousands of students come to the U.S. every year to study under F-1 visas. Common sense would dictate that these students would have no problem finding a job in the U.S. if they wanted to stay. So why are F-1 visa students having so much trouble getting jobs after graduation?


Mother granted visa to be with dying toddler

While many parents in Washington, D.C. are happily planning for their children's future, there are others whose child's terminal illness will force them to say goodbye. For these parents, there is likely nothing more important than to be by their child's side as they continue the fight. Unfortunately, reports indicate that one woman was prohibited from being at the side of her toddler as she was banned from the country by the current administration's travel ban; she was only recently given a waiver that allowed her a visa to travel to the country.

The case involves a 2-year-old. Both the toddler and his father are U.S. citizens. His mother, however, is from one of the countries included in the travel ban. In early October, the toddler and his father traveled to the United States so that the child could receive medical treatment.

Transferring To A New Employer: I-140/I-485 Portability

Each year thousands of workers are sponsored by their employers for Green Cards, including in the Washington, DC area. However, with increasingly lengthy processing times and priority date backlogs, employees may face challenges with their prospective employers including the company shutting down, internal managerial conflicts, or even workplace harassment. This can leave workers in a difficult position where they do not want to risk their lawful permanent residence, but also may not be able to continue in the job. Not to fear though, as there may be ways for these workers to leave their employment and still receive permanent residence.

Approved or Pending I-140/Pending I-485

Under INA Sec. 204(j), if an individual has had an adjustment of status (I-485) pending for more than 180 days, he/she can transfer to a new employer and still maintain their original priority (I-140 filing) date. In other words, so long as the adjustment has been pending for at least 180 days, the worker can leave their old job and have a new employer take over sponsorship. To do so the new employment must be in the same or a similar occupation to the underlying I-140. The new employer will also have to submit a supplement to the original filing.

Naturalization process can be lengthy, expensive

It seems that in the last few years, the immigration debate has ramped up considerably. Many people in Washington, D.C. and across the country make the erroneous assumption that those who have not completed the naturalization process failed to do so because of some sort of failure or oversight on their part. However, the path to becoming a naturalized citizen is often lengthy and expensive, making it especially difficult for those who are seeking a new start to complete it.

For many people, the path to citizenship may be sufficiently lengthy and complicated as to deter a person from completing it. In some cases, the process can take up to 10 years to complete. In addition to the lengthy, an applicant may be forced to pay thousands of dollars as a result of application fee. The person must be hold a permanent resident card for five years (or three if he or she is the spouse of a U.S. citizen).

Federal judge rules against President Trump's asylum ban

People in Washington, D.C. and across the country have been watching the news of the caravan of immigrants approaching the southern border of the United States. While there are different points of view regarding the caravan and the aid that should -- or should not -- be provided, the current presidential administration's  recent decision to deny asylum to immigrants who cross the border illegally has raised some legal question. A federal judge has recently provided an answer to those questions.

In early November, shortly before the midterm elections, President Trump ordered -- in advance of the caravan -- that those who cross into the country illegally will not be granted asylum. Prior to that, those who cross at ports of entry or between ports of entry are eligible for asylum. The executive order, according to some, would make the deportation of thousands of people more likely.

Seeking naturalization in the United States

For many people living in Washington, D.C. and other areas of the country, one of their goals in life is to become a citizen of the United States. Despite their desire and willingness to work hard, the naturalization process is often confusing for people who are unfamiliar with it. Following all the steps appropriately could make the difference in whether or not the process is successfully completed.

There are several criteria that individuals seeking to be naturalized must meet before they can continue the process. First, they must be 18 years old or older and both a lawful permanent resident and physically present in the country for five years prior. To successfully apply, individuals must be of good moral character and able to speak English.

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