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Family detention policy blocked in court

A federal judge has blocked a rule promulgated by the Trump administration, one of a series of restrictive immigration initiatives that have encountered legal challenges. The rule would have allowed families coming to New York or to other parts of the United States to be detained indefinitely while their cases were processed. The ruling said that the policy did not comply with a settlement that has been on the books for decades, regulating the way that foreign national children are treated while in the custody of immigration officials.

The settlement, known as the Flores Agreement, was reached in 1997 but developed from a 1985 lawsuit by a Salvadoran teen challenging her detention. It set out rules for the treatment of detained children; in most cases, kids must be released from immigration custody promptly. Many kids who cross the border have family members and relatives living in the U.S. However, the Trump administration wanted to replace the framework in the settlement with its own policy allowing families to be detained but stating that humane conditions must be provided. The judge said that the policy actually differed in its goals from those of the agreement and noted that the settlement remains in effect.

How to bring a future spouse into the country

New York residents who are planning on marrying a foreign national may be able to legally bring them to the United States. This is done by filing Form I-129F and obtaining the K-1 nonimmigrant visa. To qualify for this visa, an individual must plan on marrying the partner within 90 days, and the marriage must be seen as a legitimate attempt by two people to start a life together.

Furthermore, the wedding must take place in the United States and after the visa has been obtained. Individuals who marry foreign nationals prior to bringing them to the United States generally cannot bring them to the country with this type of visa. After a legitimate marriage becomes official, the foreign national may be allowed to apply for permanent residency status. This is true if a couple gets married within 90 days of an individual obtaining the K-1 visa.

Understanding L-1 visas

The United States has a number of visa categories available for foreign nationals who want to work in the United States temporarily.

Companies who have a presence both in the United States and abroad may transfer an experienced manager or executive to the United States, or an employee with specialized knowledge of the business, product or service, to the United States using the L visa category. Spouses and children under twenty-one may follow the principal employee in L-2 status for the same period of stay as the principal employee.

Immigration requirements for family members

It is not uncommon for people in New York to have questions about immigration eligibility categories. Many who are already citizens or permanent residents have family members who need sponsors, and people who are seeking permanent residency may have family members who are able to sponsor them. In order to sponsor a relative's immigration into the country, a person must first be a permanent resident or a citizen and be able to support the relative at 125 percent of the poverty line.

Citizens can petition for a related foreign national to be allowed to immigrate if they can demonstrate that the foreign national is a spouse, unmarried child less than 21 years old, unmarried child of the citizen over the age of 21 or married child of the citizen. If the citizen is at least 21 years old, he or she is free to petition for the immigration of a brother, sister or parent who is a foreign national. Permanent residents can petition for immigration only for their spouses or for an unmarried daughter or son of any age.

US employers face additional restrictions in H-1B visa process

U.S. employers looking to utilize the H-1B visa in order to employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations have faced a highly unpredictable and ever changing adjudication process. The current administration ordered a full review of the H-1B visa program, which is the largest temporary employment visa program in the United States. This review has led to changes with respect to the adjudication process and how the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles applications.


Type H most common temporary work visa category

For foreign nationals residing in New York, there are essentially two types of visas -- those that permit the holder to work in the US and those that do not. Temporary work visas allow a foreign national to work for a limited period of time. In some cases, the worker will pursue and secure the visa on his or her own. In other circumstances, the worker's employer will petition for the visa on that person's behalf.

The most common category of visa for foreign nationals working in the US is the H type. H-1A visas apply to registered nurses and are a specific response to a shortage of registered nurses nationwide. Specialty or professional occupations are covered by the H-1B visa. To qualify for an H-1B visa, the applicant must have specialized knowledge in a particular field. At a minimum, the applicant must show he or she has earned a four-year college degree. Additionally, the position the applicant is set to work in must require a four-year college degree.

An overview of the O-1 visa standard and its requirements

There are several categories of business visas that foreign nationals may apply for if they are planning on traveling to the United States for temporary employment. Each visa category has its requirements- it is essential to carefully review the purpose of the intended stay to determine which visa is most appropriate.

Below is a brief outline of what foreign nationals need to qualify for an O-1 visa, one of the several visa categories available to them.

OPT visa waiting times more than doubled in recent months

Optional Practical Training visas allow employers in New York and around the country to hire foreign students and recent college graduates to fill positions that are related to their major field of study. OPT visas give students and graduates an opportunity to receive valuable training and provide employers with highly skilled workers, but recent reports suggest that the program is currently being hampered by excessively long waiting times.

Fewer than 400 of the 900 international students who applied for training positions at Massachusetts General Hospital have received their OPT visas, and immigrant advocacy groups say that the problem is not confined to the northeast. In previous years, students who did not receive an OPT visa within three months could obtain one by visiting a local immigration office. However, the Trump administration has eliminated this rule, and waiting times are now as long as seven months.

Delays may hinder spousal immigration applications

Family immigration is one of the most popular means for foreign citizens to legally live in New York or another part of the United States. When an American marries a foreign national, both spouses often hope to live together as quickly as possible. However, spouses may face serious delays when dealing with the immigration system. A congressional hearing on immigration delays and processing times identified spousal sponsorships as a particular area of concern needing action. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, or USCIS, publishes average processing times, but these may obscure the lengthy delays that can accompany the process.

The U.S. citizen spouse will file an I-130 petition to begin the spousal sponsorship process. While this type of application may take around five months to be approved, as noted on the USCIS website, that is only the beginning of the journey. After the I-130 approval, foreign spouses living in the U.S. will need to apply to adjust their status and receive a green card. This process can take months as can receiving a work permit. As a result, families may face higher costs and experience lower income throughout the family immigration process.

How spouses of American citizens can obtain citizenship

Permanent residents who live in New York and who are married to American citizens may be eligible to become citizens themselves. This is true if a person has had a green card for at least three years and has had the same spouse during that time period. Furthermore, that individual must have resided in the United States for three years prior to applying to become a naturalized citizen.

During this time, the applicant must have actually lived in the country for 18 months. An applicant must reside in the state or district where an application is filed for three months prior to doing so. These time requirements may not apply to those who are living abroad and are married to a United States citizen. However, an individual must generally be in the country to take the naturalization exam and to take part in the naturalization ceremony.

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