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Extreme vetting questionnaire approved

President Trump has approved as part of his extreme vetting program involving prospective immigrants a questionnaire that asks for biographical information going back 15 years. Those looking to immigrate to Maryland or elsewhere in the United States will also have to provide social media information for the last five years. Specifically, applicants will need to document any travel that they have done in the last 15 years and disclose how it was paid for.

Fewer citizens of travel ban countries visiting U.S.

Maryland residents will likely recall the furor that surrounded President Trump's January 2017 executive order that banned citizens from seven primarily Muslim countries from entering the U.S. A federal court judge soon lifted the travel ban, and the Supreme Court may ultimately settle legal arguments regarding the president's authority in this area. Data from the State Department indicates that the number of visitors from these countries has plummeted in recent months.

Options to change visa status

People from abroad who are visiting Maryland and decide that they want to further their education may be able to switch their visas from visitor to student status. However, it is important to know that foreign nationals are generally not allowed to attend school before this switch is made. There are two ways in which they may change their status.

USCIS receives 199,000 applications for 86,000 H-1B visas

The H-1B non-immigrant visa program allows employers in Maryland and around the country to hire highly-skilled foreign workers. The program aims to nurture innovation by ensuring that American companies are able to attract workers with credentials and experience in specialty occupations, but only 86,000 H-1B visas are awarded each year. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service began accepting applications for 2018 H-1B visas on April 3, and the agency announced on April 17 that 199,000 H-1B applications were submitted during the ensuing five-day filing period.

University creates visa workaround for entrepreneurs

When immigrants in Maryland want to apply for an H-1B visa, their employers may act as a sponsor. However, for those who are self-employed, there is no employer to play that role. This is why many foreign entrepreneurs who wish to stay in the United States are taking part in the Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence program first offered by the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Supreme Court weighs in on Trump immigration policy

Maryland residents have no doubt heard that some aspects of President Donald Trump's immigration policies have been criticized by both the public and the courts. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts joined this chorus of discontent on April 26 when he took issue with the treatment of a woman of Serbian descent who was deported over untrue statements she made almost two decades ago.

Immigration advocates fear for the future of the H-4 EAD rule

Maryland residents may be aware that the H-1B non-immigrant visa program was put into place so that businesses in the United States are able to hire foreign workers when suitably qualified American candidates cannot be found. The qualifying spouses of these foreign workers are issued H-4 visas, and they were also granted the right to work legally in the United States when the Department of Homeland Security introduced the employment authorization document H-4 EAD in 2015.

H-4 visa holders' spouses face legal employment challenges

Maryland immigrants who hope that their H-1B visas will make their spouses eligible to apply for work permits may have to wait to see if the government places obstacles in their way. In April 2017, the Department of Homeland Security asked for 180 days to continue its review of an Obama-era rule that let these spouses apply to work under certain circumstances. Although the original rule dates back to 2015, the Department of Justice under President Donald Trump hasn't determined whether it should remain in place.

Temporary immigration judges sent to detention centers

Maryland readers may be interested to learn that the Justice Department has announced that it will send temporary immigration judges to six detention centers in order to enact the Trump administration's immigration policies. Four judges will be sent to Texas, one to Louisiana and one to New Mexico.

Refugees from Afghanistan face dwindling chance for visas

The proximity of Maryland to the District of Columbia places its immigrant community close to the restrictions emerging from the U.S. Department of State. Visas meant to enable Afghans who aided U.S. military forces to come to the country and escape persecution in their homeland appear to be running out. A request made in the late months of the Obama administration for 4,000 more visas for Afghans resulted in Congress approving only 1,500 more Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans.

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