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Many employers desire to hire foreign nationals in specialty occupations, but because visas for those workers are limited, many employers are unable to do so. Timing is critical to be able to obtain H-1B visas for qualified workers. The annual allocation of 85,000 H-1B visas starts on April 1 of each year. Last year the general H-1B visas (not cap-exempt) were oversubscribed in the first week of April. So it is imperative to file on April 1, or as soon as possible thereafter, to have a chance at an approved H-1B visa.
The Internal Revenue Service has issued a warning to consumers, especially immigrants, about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country. This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country.
Victims are told by the scammer that they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver's license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
According to the recent Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse Report, Prosecutorial Discretion is on the rise in some immigration courts. Prosecutorial Discretion occurs in removal (deportation) cases when the Assistant Chief Counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE, or the Prosecutor) agrees to close a case prior to a decision by an Immigration Judge on whether to remove an immigrant. The Prosecutorial Discretion program began in October 2011 in an effort to reduce backlog. Prosecutorial Discretion is used primarily to allow low-priority cases to be dismissed so the Prosecutor can focus on prosecuting high-priority cases, e.g. when the immigrant has been convicted of a violent crime. The report indicates an overall 80% increase in the number of cases closed using Prosecutorial Discretion from fiscal years 2012 to 2013.
Every year the U.S celebrates Citizenship Day on September 17th. In honor of Citizenship Day, we would like to point out some public benefits available to citizens that may be limited or unavailable to noncitizens. This list addresses larger federal programs, but is not exhaustive of all benefits available to citizens.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform is still at the beginning, but it is never too early to start preparing. While it is up in the air whether comprehensive reform will have a pathway to citizenship, we know that if there is a pathway there will be tough requirements to "earn" citizenship. With what we do know about any possible pathway, there are a few things that undocumented immigrants can start doing today to make things easier when and if reform passes:
Recent developments regarding comprehensive immigration reform in our nation's capitol are intriguing, but the plans are still in infancy and vague. On January 28, 2013 eight U.S. Senators, led by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), unveiled the outlines of an immigration plan. The statement of principles is rather broad. It sets out "four basic pillars": 1) a "tough but fair path to citizenship . . . contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country as required"; 2) reform our legal immigration system with a greater eye toward our economic needs; 3) workplace verification; and 4) setting up a system for admitting future workers. In essence, the eight senators acknowledge that the U.S. cannot deport the 11 million (or any substantial fraction thereof) undocumented immigrants. The outline can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/bfksdrp. The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on immigration reform in February, and some expect a bill in March 2013.
Obama administration officials unveiled a new provisional unlawful presence waiver rule, ("provisional waiver") on Wednesday, January 2, 2013 that will make it easier for undocumented immigrants who are immediate family members of U.S. citizens to obtain legal permanent residence. The benefit of this rule change is that it will allow the American citizen relatives to avoid long separations from immediate family members, reduce hardship, and ensure family unity.
Now is a great time to be an immigrant entrepreneur in America. Immigrants are natural entrepreneurs and USCIS is hoping to encourage and harness their energy by creating a new initiative that will increase the job creation potential of employment-based and high-skilled visa categories. They have dubbed this program Entrepreneurs in Residence ("EIR"), which is an initiative that uses policy efforts within the framework of existing immigration laws to promote and help grow the U.S. economy and American jobs. The new USCIS outlook on this valuable group may lead to new laws that fix the ill-fitting organization of current Federal laws and policies across the agency.
One of the most popular immigration avenues available right now is for family members to petition for their immediate relatives. Unfortunately, often they are turned away because their immediate relatives are inadmissible to the United States for entering the United States without inspection ("EWI"). The main avenue around this currently is a hardship waiver that must be applied for outside the U.S. For families this means months apart outside the United States with the possibility of a denial hanging over the entire process. USCIS finally sought to make this process easier and announced a proposed rule at the beginning of the year. The proposed rule would allow for waivers to be filed and approved before the relative leaves the country, but after almost a year we are still waiting.
With the Presidential election only weeks away, it reminds us all of one of the largest benefits of being a U.S. Citizen, voting. Only U.S. citizens can vote in Federal elections and most states also restrict voting to U.S. citizens. Aliens cannot run for many elected offices, meaning that they are restricted from having their views heard and being able to represent immigrants like them.
Grant Konvalinka & Harrison, P.C., serves clients in Tennessee cities such as Chattanooga, Cleveland, East Ridge, Red Bank, Jasper, Collegedale, Athens, Decatur, Altamont, McMinnville, Manchester, Dunlap, Winchester, Fayetteville, Soddy-Daisy, Etowah, Dayton, Charleston, Tullahoma, Fort Oglethorpe, Dalton, Chatsworth, Calhoun, Summerville, Lafayette, Ringgold, Chattanooga Valley, Chickamauga, Tunnel Hill and Trenton.
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