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San Jose Immigration Law Blog

Trump administration changes age for special immigrant juveniles

Special immigrant juvenile status is granted to unmarried immigrants under the age of 21 who are already in the U.S. and have an American juvenile court order taking them into the custody of a state agency or department.

That juvenile court order must specify that the person cannot be returned to one or both parents due to abuse, abandonment or neglect or the equivalent under state law and also that it is not in their best interest to be returned to their homeland. Once immigrants are granted special immigrant juvenile status, they are eligible to apply for a green card.

USCIS now offers online submission for some immigration law forms

Wanting to live in California or other parts of the United States as a citizen can be difficult for people who have moved to the U.S. from other countries. Immigration law changes rapidly, and it is not unusual for individuals to face many hurdles as they work through the naturalization process. Some changes to the ways in which immigrants can apply for citizenship may help them complete steps more quickly.

It was recently reported that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services now offers tools on its website for individuals to apply for citizenship or a green card replacement online. People interested in this option will need to create an account on the USCIS website and continue through the steps necessary to complete the desired actions.

Federal court: People can seek asylum for gang, domestic violence

In June 2018, the Trump administration announced a new "expedited removal" policy which denied people the right to seek asylum based on domestic or gang violence. Now, a federal judge has struck down that policy as being in violation of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Refugee Act. He also found that there was no legal basis "for an effective categorical ban on domestic violence and gang-related claims."

As we've discussed before, people can receive asylum in the United States if they can demonstrate a credible fear of persecution based on:

  • Race or nationality
  • Religious or political opinions
  • Membership in a particular social group

How do I get a student visa to study in the United States?

For those wishing to study full-time at a U.S. academic program, there are two visas available: F and M. Both are nonimmigrant visas, and one of the requirements is that you maintain a residence in your home country that you have no intention of giving up. You must also be generally eligible for a U.S. visa.

The F-1 visa is for academic students and those seeking language training, while the M-1 is for vocational students. In general, academic students are those enrolling at approved, accredited schools, colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories or language training programs that generally result in a certificate, diploma or degree. Vocational students are generally those enrolling in job training or other non-academic programs.

Diversity lottery winners, others challenge effect of travel ban

Two groups of immigrants are involved in lawsuits challenging the application of President Trump's travel ban. A group of Yemenis and Iranians who won the U.S. diversity lottery but were nevertheless barred from entering the country are suing in Washington, D.C. Here in San Francisco, a group of 36 plaintiffs argues that the waiver process in the travel ban is a sham.

As we discussed in June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the third version of President Trump's travel ban. The ban prohibits most nationals of Iran, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya, along with certain officials from Venezuela and North Korea, from traveling to the U.S.

Change in immigration norms drives more citizenship applications

Billy Idol recently became a citizen of the United States. The 63-year-old rock star, originally from England, was sworn in at a Los Angeles ceremony in November. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services tweeted, "it's a nice day for a naturalization ceremony."

There could be any number of reasons why the celebrated rocker chose to become a citizen, but there has been a significant increase in applications for U.S. citizenship lately. In some areas, the uptick in pending applications is as much as 88 percent over two years ago.

What kinds of jobs qualify for an H-1B specialty occupation visa?

The H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the holder to work in the United States for three to six years. The visa is available for degreed workers in specialty occupations, certain Defense Department R&D workers and fashion models of distinguished ability.

In this blog post, we are discussing the H-1B visa for workers in specialty occupations. In order to qualify, the applicant must meet at least one of these criteria:

  • Holds a U.S. bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited educational institution which is required by the specialty occupation
  • Holds an equivalent foreign degree
  • Has all required licenses and permissions to practice the specialty occupation in the proposed state
  • Has a combination of education, experience or specialized training equivalent to such a degree, along with recognition of your expertise in the specialty occupation

How does asylum work in the United States?

With thousands of men, women and children headed toward our Southern border, many will be seeking asylum in the United States. This is an entirely legal process, and the U.S. pledged in the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees to accept eligible asylum seekers and a share of qualifying refugees. That treaty, commonly called the 1951 Refugee Convention, also prohibits the U.S. from returning refugees and asylum seekers to the countries they fled from.

The United States grants asylum only to people who are seeking protection due to a credible fear of persecution due to:

  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Political opinions
  • Membership in a particular social group

Tweak to H-1B lottery rule could further benefit advanced degrees

H-1B visas are nonimmigrant visas that allow people from three categories to live and work in the U.S. for between three and six years:

Specialty occupations: Immigrants with a U.S. bachelor's degree, its equivalent, or a higher degree working in jobs requiring such a degree that cannot be filled by U.S. personnel. This category is commonly used for engineers and other STEM professionals who are in high demand.

Colleges challenge new 'unlawful presence' policy for students

Coming to the U.S. on a student or exchange visa comes with the responsibility to maintain your immigration status while you complete your program. You can violate your immigration status in several ways, but the primary ones include overstaying your visa, reducing your academic load below full time and exceeding your work authorization.

If you violate your immigration status, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may determine that your continued presence in the U.S. is unlawful. This could lead to deportation and removal and, if you remain out of status for 180 days, a 3- or 10-year reentry bar.

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