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Washington, D.C. Immigration Law Blog

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Trump administration ends CAM program

Some Maryland residents may be aware that starting at the end of 2014, children fleeing from violence in Central America as well as eligible family members could apply to remain in the United States under the Central American Minors program. The program also offered an avenue for children younger than 21 with parents lawfully residing in the country to undergo a resettlement interview before coming to the United States. As of Aug. 16, however, the Trump administration has ended the program.

More than 2,700 children had been conditionally approved to enter the country, but that approval has now been rescinded. Most of the children were from El Salvador. According to the advocacy group Kids in Need of Defense, the children will probably find a more dangerous way to come to the United States.

The economic benefits of the H1-B visa program

Maryland residents have likely heard claims that the H1-B visa program is being used by employers to replace qualified Americans with foreign workers who are willing to accept lower rates of pay, but a study from the University of Michigan and the Center for Global Development suggests that the controversial immigration policy is actually good for the U.S. economy as a whole. Researchers say that the incomes of the United States and India rose by a combined $17.3 billion in 2010 due to H1-B visas, and they claim that program increased the wealth of American-born workers by $431 million.

The researchers were trying to determine what impact of the program has had on the economies of India and the United States since the early 2000s. India was selected because the country has a thriving technology sector and is home to many of the foreign workers awarded H1-B visas each year. The results of the study may not be received warmly in the nation's capital. President Trump says that the H1-B visa program is unfair to American workers and has made redesigning it a top priority.

The naturalization process for spouses of U.S. citizens

The rules and regulations covering citizenship, immigration and naturalization are established and enforced by the federal government. The same basic rules apply, generally, in Maryland as in other states. With regard to the naturalization process for spouses of citizens, the applicable statute is in the Immigration and Nationality Act, at Section 319(a). United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is tasked with enforcement of immigration rules.

An individual may qualify for naturalization under 319(a) if he or she has been a permanent resident of the U.S. for three years or more and has been married to a U.S. citizen during that time, along with several other requirements. The applicant must be at least 18 years of age, for example, and must have lived within the relevant USCIS district or state for three months or more prior to filing the application.

How human trafficking victims can remain in America

In 2000, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act became law. This led to the T nonimmigrant status, and it gave authorities more power to investigate crimes such as human trafficking. Most victims of human trafficking are poor or otherwise vulnerable. They are coaxed into coming to Maryland or other parts of the country with promises of employment or other perks.

Those who have the T nonimmigrant status are allowed to stay in the United States to help in the prosecution of a human trafficking crime. It also provides certain protections to both current and former victims of what amounts to a modern day form of slavery. To qualify for this status, an individual must have entered the United States as a result of being trafficked. Furthermore, individuals must comply with requests to help in an investigation or prosecution if possible.

Some H-1B visas still allow for faster application processing

Prospective visa applicants who are interested in working in Maryland might already be aware of the suspension of premium expedited processing for H-1B visa applications that took place in April. The premium processing, which was suspended by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, speeds up processing for H-1B visa applications from several months to 15 days or less.

Premium processing was suspended by the USCIS because there was an overabundance of applications that had not been reviewed. The aim of the suspension is to reduce the backlogged applications and eventually provide a shorter average review time for all applications. The suspension is still in place, and it was projected to last for up to six months starting in April. Nevertheless, some H-1B visa applications might still be granted expedited processing.

Temporary work visa program expands

A one-time increase in the number of temporary work visas allowed for up to 15,000 additional workers to enter the United States for companies hiring under the H-2B program. For Maryland immigrants, it is important to note that the emergency measure does not include any reforms to the program that has been criticized for poor protections and low wages. It may also be of value to see how this move comes in spite of administration rhetoric against immigration.

The H-2B Workforce Coalition, which is comprised of companies relying on temporary, seasonal labor, lauded the increase as necessary. However, the work visa increase was criticized by some as being unnecessary and failing to address needed reforms. The Economic Policy Institute went so far as to say the effort will enable employers to take advantage of even more workers with reduced wage and employment rights.

Homeland Security releases immigration data

Some Maryland residents who are applying for green cards may be among the majority of green card recipients who are already in the U.S. on some form of temporary visa. According to figures released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, of the roughly 1 million immigrants who get green cards annually, fewer than half are new arrivals. This has been the case since fiscal year 2004. However, there has been a decrease in the number of people already living in the country who receive green cards and an increase in the number of new arrivals who get them.

There are a number of criteria that could make a person eligible for a green card. Family members of citizens or lawful permanent residents may be eligible. There are also categories for refugees and asylum seekers. While there are not limits on green card numbers in these categories, there are limits by country. Green cards may also be employment-based.

What to do when family members are detained by ICE

Families in Maryland that include undocumented members may be unsure of how to deal with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they hold these members of the family. It is crucial to remember that when undocumented family members are detained by ICE, it is necessary to act quickly. Much can happen that is not in favor of the people being held if no one acts quickly on their behalf.

A first step that individuals with loved ones in the custody of ICE can take is to contact the United States consulate of their country of origin. Consulates can put people in this situation in contact with immigration lawyers, and it is a good idea to make sure they are informed of the detainment.

Lies may not be grounds to revoke citizenship

Those looking to immigrate to Maryland or elsewhere in the United States might not necessarily have their citizenship revoked because of a lie. This was the basis of a Supreme Court ruling made on June 22. In order to be protected from revocation, the lie cannot lead to someone ultimately being denied citizenship. The case in question involved a woman who said that her husband fled to the United States to avoid serving in the Bosnian Serb army.

It was later discovered that the man had indeed served in a brigade responsible for the deaths of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims. Her citizenship was revoked under a federal law that made it illegal to knowingly acquire naturalized citizenship in a manner that is contrary to the law. However, the court majority noted that this is only true if the lie plays a role in obtaining citizenship.

What to do if immigration officers take someone into custody

People in Maryland whose loved ones are facing deportation may want to contact the applicable foreign consulate. Immigration arrests are on the rise under the Trump administration, and foreign nationals have a right to contact their consulate for assistance. The consulate may be able to refer themto attorneys.

Acting quickly may be important because a person could be deported without due process. One man in California was taken into custody and deported in a matter of hours. Quick action may also prevent a situation in which loved ones waive their rights.

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