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Los Angeles Immigration Law Blog

How difficult is the naturalization test?

If you are an immigrant living in California, you may wish to apply for U.S. citizenship at some point. You receive many benefits from becoming a naturalized citizen, not the least of which is that you no longer need worry about your immigration status or if all your papers are up-to-date and otherwise in order. As the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explain, however, in order to become an American citizen, you must successfully pass a naturalization test.

The first step you must take in your naturalization process is to interview with a USCIS officer. (S)he will ask you questions about your background and your naturalization application which you must answer truthfully. Under most circumstances this interview will be in English, so you need to have a basic command of the English language so as to be able to understand the questions and respond appropriately. Then you must take both an English test and a civics test. To prepare for these tests, you can attend naturalization classes and/or study the numerous study materials available.

Will DACA changes impact employment?

There is a lot in the news about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which you may know better as DACA. This program has helped countless people who were brought into this country illegally as children to remain in the country. According to Business Insider, DACAs main purpose is to help them be able to legally work despite their illegal status. If you are working in California under the program, you have a right to be concerned about your employment future.

President Trump has been very clear that he is ending DACA. However, there has been work to replace the program, so you can continue to reap its benefits. There is still concern. It has been a very volatile situation in Congress over this program. There have been many delays and arguments.

What is adjustment of status?

Whether you have moved to the United States to pursue your dream or you want to move closer to family, there are several methods you can use to gain permanent resident status in the country. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you may go through the adjustment of status process if you are already in the United States. Consular processing must be used if you are currently located outside the country. Before you can apply, however, you must determine if you qualify under one of the green card eligibility categories.

Once you know you are eligible, you must fill out a green card application and have a sponsor fill out an immigrant petition. These forms often depend on the eligibility category you qualify under. Then make sure that a visa is available in the category in which you are applying. To initiate the adjustment of status process, you can file a Form I-485. The Application Support Center will then send you a notice for an appointment. The USCIS will evaluate each case and issue you notice if your situation requires an interview. Keep in mind, the sponsor who filled out the immigration petition will need to join you at the meeting.

What are some common reasons your visa might be denied?

Whether you are taking the first steps toward obtaining United States citizenship or permanent residency, or applying for permission to visit America, your first step is gaining a visa. This process can be complex and daunting for those wishing to visit California, and it may help to understand some of the reasons your visa application could be denied.

According to FindLaw, there are several common reasons for the denial of a visa application. These include the following:

  • You stayed beyond your allotted time when you previously had a visa.
  • You were previously convicted of a serious crime in the U.S., particularly a violent crime or one involving drug or human trafficking, or authorities have reason to consider you a security risk.
  • Immigration authorities fear you may be a public health risk – for example, you have not been immunized against serious communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, or you have contracted a serious illness.
  • If you married or plan to marry a U.S. citizen, there is no evidence that the marriage is valid and in good faith – for example, you barely know anything about your spouse or you do not plan to live together.
  • You lack the financial means to avoid becoming a public charge.
  • You did not meet the eligibility requirements of your visa application or failed to attend your screening appointments.

Study looks at number of H-1B visas awarded to immigrants

The United States government awards a number of H1-B visas to out of country workers who travel to the U.S. for highly-skilled jobs. These immigrants are allowed to stay in the country while they are working to share their knowledge with United States based companies. Most workers who are given these types of visas are well-educated, holding bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees in their areas of expertise. Many have complex skill-sets, like computer science, engineering or mathematics.

The legal cap of H1-B visas the government can issue is 85,000. However, according to the Migration Policy Institute, there were more than 345,000 given out to immigrant workers in 2016. The reason why some people have an issue with the number of H-1B visas given is that some companies are accused of paying immigrant workers less than they would pay United States citizens holding the same position. Some argue that companies hire workers under the H1-B Visa program to decrease their labor costs and crowd out American workers. The study showed that companies employing immigrant workers may pay employees up to $30,000 less than someone from the United States. 

Why foreign business owners need a U.S. immigration attorney

American immigration politics often seem to center on the effects on citizens, refugees and everyday immigrants. However, another group with interest in the law is foreign business owners. 

If you own an international corporation that does business and has locations in the U.S., then you are just as much at the mercy of the law as anyone else. You will need the assistance of a U.S. immigration attorney for the following areas.

Splitting up families: current U.S. immigration policy

The Trump immigration policies continue to impact thousands of families nationwide. More and more families in which one or both parents are undocumented live in constant fear that they will be next in the attempt by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to round up and deport anyone living here illegally.

Despite California’s numerous sanctuary cities and passage of the California Values Act late last fall, California families are seeing their share of ICE’s policies and suffering the consequences thereof. For instance, ICE agents picked up one man, a crime-free agricultural worker and father of three small children, four blocks from his home while he was on his way to work. His wife, an undocumented immigrant herself, lives in terror that she will be next. If so, she faces the impossible choice of taking her three little ones to Mexico when she is deported there or leaving them as de facto orphans in the care of American friends and neighbors. The children have no legal rights in Mexico since they are U.S. citizens. Meanwhile, the federal government sued California earlier this month over its sanctuary laws.

What is the California Values Act?

As a Californian, the recent spate of undocumented immigrant deportations undoubtedly distresses you greatly. California has long been a champion of undocumented immigrants. and many California cities call themselves “sanctuary cities,” meaning that they try to protect their undocumented residents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arresting and deporting them.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the California legislature passed a “sanctuary state” bill last fall that Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Oct. 5, 2017. This law, dubbed the California Values Act, is the most comprehensive set of protections that any state has so far granted to its undocumented residents. Senator Kevin de León, Democrat from Los Angeles, declared at the time: “This is a measure that reflects the values of who we are as a great state.”

Supreme Court gives DACA a reprieve

With the recent spate of deportations, undocumented immigrants in California and across the nation are in a state of panic, fearing that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials could swoop down on them at any time and deport them to their country of origin. Now, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, they can breathe a little easier.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as DACA, was set to expire on March 5. Congress was not able to reach an agreement extending it or otherwise protecting the 700,000 people currently enrolled in this Obama-era program. Democrats want a bill focusing on DACA enrollees only; Republicans want a bill that includes immigration enforcement enhancements and increased border security. The impasse was so acrimonious that it resulted in a three-day government shutdown in January. DREAMers feared they would lose their DACA work permits

What does it mean to be an American citizen?

If you are a foreign-born California resident seeking U.S. citizenship, you may be wondering exactly what it means to be an American citizen. If you have asked citizens this question, you know that each one gives a different answer. Rather than finding this confusing, you should find it heartening and reassuring. These answers reflect the heart and soul of American citizenship: that each citizen is a free individual who has the right to make his or her piece of America whatever (s)he wants it to be.

Some years ago, the Congressional Conference on Civic Education held a meeting where Lee H. Hamilton was the featured speaker. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives at the time and currently serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Council. What he said then rings just as true today.

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