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San Jose Immigration Law Blog

USCIS considers closing its international field offices

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently announced that it is in "preliminary discussions" to close its international field offices and delegate their work to the State Department or U.S.-based USCIS personnel.

The agency has 23 field offices in 20 countries around the globe. They help with:

  • Family reunification visas
  • Foreign adoptions
  • Refugee applications
  • Humanitarian parole requests from people outside the U.S.
  • Naturalization requests from foreign spouses of U.S. military service members
  • A variety of other matters

Are you ready to apply for your H-1B visa?

The U.S. only issues a total of 85,000 H-1B visas each year. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting applications for H-1B visas on April 1. The limit on those visas will be reached soon afterward. Will your application be ready in time to be considered?

Who is eligible for an H-1B visa?

Asylum seekers in expedited removal can sue in federal court

The case involved an asylum seeker who claims to have been wrongly denied asylum after a "credible fear" hearing before an asylum officer. But U.S. immigration law allows "expedited removal" of recent arrivals caught within 100 miles of the border, providing very limited opportunity to appeal. Now, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that he should have access to a federal court hearing before his deportation.

Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a man of Tamil ethnicity from Sri Lanka, was detained near a California port of entry in 2017. He claimed that Sri Lankan intelligence officers kidnapped, beat and tortured him in 2014, then threatened to kill him for his political activities.

Trump admin. announces end to work permits for H-1B spouses

If your spouse is working in the United States on an H-1B visa, you may already know that you are eligible for an H-4 visa, which comes with a work permit. That may be changing. The Trump administration has announced a plan to end the H-4 visa's work permit.

The move could affect nearly 100,000 immigrant families -- almost 30,000 of them here in California. And in the Bay Area, H-1B visa holders may not be able to support their families without a working spouse.

Court: Children of married couples are citizens if one parent is

When a married U.S. citizen has a child, that child is entitled to U.S. citizenship even if its parents are LGBTQ, a federal judge has just ruled. The State Department had refused citizenship to one such child because he was not the biological child of his U.S. citizen parent.

The case was especially illustrative because it involved twins. They were born, through surrogacy, to a married gay couple. Each child was the biological son of one of the two men. However, only one of the men was a U.S. citizen.

Changes to the H-1B visa process cause backlogs and uncertainty

When a foreign graduate of a U.S. college or university applies for a job, it is often through the H-1B visa program. For the most part, these visas allow high-skilled workers to work in the U.S. for a three-year period in specialty occupations where U.S. workers are scarce. (H-1Bs are also available for certain other reasons.)

Specialty occupations are defined as those requiring at least a bachelor's degree and which are so unique, complex or specialized that the duties can only be performed by an individual with that degree or higher. There is a preference for people with higher degrees.

Trump, in apparent violation of court order, extends asylum ban

In November, President Trump issued a ban on asylum for people who cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization. Under U.S. law, however, people can seek asylum at any location in the United States regardless of the method of their entry.

Shortly after the ban was announced, a federal district court judge issued a nationwide injunction preventing it from going into effect. The Trump administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, but in a 5-4 vote, it refused to do so. That leaves the injunction in place while it is appealed in the normal way.

How does a highly educated immigrant work or study in the US?

Are you a highly skilled or educated person who wants to study or work in the United States?

Although recent developments may indicate that America is less than welcoming toward immigrants, the truth is that the U.S. welcomes more immigrants overall than any other economically advanced country.

For years, ICE ran a fake university to sting foreign students

The University of Farmington seemed like any American university. Its website said it offered both online and traditional instruction with a focus on working students. It claimed to be nationally accredited. Happy students were shown studying and sharing coffee. There was nothing suspicious about it from afar.

It turned out to be very suspicious. It was set up in 2015 as an ICE undercover sting operation. The idea was to catch international students who were less interested in getting an education than in getting documents to prove they were enrolled in a full-time program. Many of the students who sought out Farmington wanted a chance at curricular practical training, or CPT, a program where students can work while pursuing their degrees.

A look at the frustrating, growing backlog in immigration courts

Currently, there are over 800,000 immigration cases waiting to be resolved by U.S. immigration courts. A majority involve people seeking a chance to stay in the U.S. rather than being deported. And, although the case backlog has been growing for at least a decade, it has jumped by almost 50 percent since 2017, when President Trump took office. Now, the average time to complete an immigration court hearing is 578 days.

What circumstances and policies contribute to this historic backlog? The New York Times recently investigated the question.

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