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San Jose Immigration Law Blog

Wait to process citizenship application grows to a year or more

It's an unfortunate reality that the wait to have a U.S. citizenship application processed can be long. In past years, applications were processed in about four to six months, according to one Bay Area citizenship class instructor. Since the Trump administration began, that wait has grown to between 10 months and a year -- and longer in other big cities with large immigrant populations.

The problem could be ineffective government. Some groups suspect it's an intentional effort to limit the number of immigrant citizens -- a "second wall," if you will. The administration says the reason for the growing backlog is that many more people are now applying for U.S. citizenship.

USCIS offers special services for those affected by the wildfires

If you have been affected by the California wildfires this year, you may need immigration help. You may have missed an appointment, lost documents or run into other problems that could affect your immigration status. Don't panic. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides some special immigration services for people affected by unforeseen circumstances, and the California wildfires have been added to the list of covered events.

If you need immigration help due to the wildfires, we recommend contacting an experienced immigration lawyer at Yew Immigration Law Group. The special consideration being offered by the USCIS are only available upon request and will be provided on a discretionary basis. Therefore, it is important to make sure your request is presented properly and convincingly.

Business Roundtable decries arbitrary, inconsistent H-1B processing

Dozens of U.S. business leaders, including CEOs at top American companies, recently signed a joint letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. They expressed "serious concern" over several Trump administration immigration policies, focusing on those surrounding H-1B visas. The signatories of the joint letter included the heads of Apple, IBM, Salesforce, BlackRock, PepsiCo, JPMorgan Chase and others.

The H-1B is a nonimmigrant, employment-based visa that many companies rely upon to hire computer engineers and other skilled professionals from abroad when they can't find qualified applicants at home.

U.S. citizenship and the Trump in-laws

Two members of the extended first family are now officially United States citizens. Viktor and Amalija Knavs, the parents of first lady Melania Trump, took the oath of citizenship in a private ceremony in New York City on Aug. 9. 

Their attorney Michael Wildes told members of the press following the ceremony, "This golden experiment, these doors that are in America, remain hinged open to beautiful people as they have today." He went on to describe family immigration as a bedrock of the country's immigration process as a means of family reunification.

I want to work in the US. What visa options are available?

If you would like to come to the United States for work, you need an employment-based visa. There are two classifications of employment-based visas: temporary and permanent. Each type has many visas to choose from, but you may only qualify for specific ones.

Many U.S. visas are subject to both annual numerical limits and per-country limits. There are typically more applications than visas are available. This may mean a significant wait for people seeking to enter from some countries.

Administration weighs reducing refugee admissions again

Even though the number of refugees being admitted to the United States has reached an historic low, the Trump administration is considering reducing that number even further. The U.S. refugee program is meant to offer a chance at stability for people forced out of their homes by disasters or unrest.

Currently, the administration has set a cap of 45,000 for refugee admissions despite a worldwide surge in refugees. The push for an even lower cap is apparently being led by senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who has advocated a cap of 15,000. However, the New York Times indicates that the proposal being considered would only drop the cap to 25,000 -- a 40 percent drop from the previous level.

9th Circuit: Separation of powers protects sanctuary city grants

A federal appeals court has just struck down the Trump administration's plan to punish so-called "sanctuary" jurisdictions by refusing to issue approved criminal justice grants. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that separation of powers and the constitution's Spending Clause vest spending decisions exclusively with Congress.

San Francisco and Santa Clara County initiated the lawsuit on behalf of themselves and other California sanctuary jurisdictions (which include the state itself). They pointed out that Congress had not conditioned the grants on any jurisdiction's agreement to go along with the Trump administration's immigration enforcement priorities. Since only Congress can make such conditions, they argued, the executive branch cannot use these grants to punish sanctuary jurisdictions. A trial court ruled in favor of the cities.

Could your U.S. citizenship be at risk from Operation Janus?

When Davinder S. came to America, he arrived without any travel documents or proof of identity. He petitioned for asylum under a different first name, Baljinder, but he abandoned that petition. Eventually, he married a U.S. citizen and became a lawful permanent resident. Years later, he became a U.S. citizen -- again under the name Baljinder.

Last year, the Department of Justice filed a denaturalization case against Davinder. It won because he failed to appear in court to contest the case. As a result, he was stripped of his citizenship. His status reverted to that of a permanent resident -- but he can now be deported.

I'm now a US citizen. Can I bring my loved ones to live here?

Congratulations on becoming a naturalized citizen. One of the privileges of citizenship is the ability to bring your immediate relatives here to become lawful permanent residents, and possibly future citizens. Immediate relatives include any unmarried children you have who are under 21, your parents (if you are 21 or older) and your spouse. You can also sponsor your married children and, if you are 21 or older, your siblings.

Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are given special immigration priority. There is an unlimited number of visas available, but they are granted in the order their underlying petitions are received. Once your relative reaches the front of the line, he or she can typically also apply for a visa or adjust their status.

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