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Miami Immigration and Naturalization Law Blog

Immigration to the U.S. increases after hurricanes

Hurricanes bring destruction to Florida as well as to islands that are located in the ocean. When hurricanes destroy property on island nations, migration to Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. increases from the devastated areas.

Researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed information from the U.S. Census Bureau over a period of 25 years. The information concerned 159 countries during that period of time. They then looked at migration from those countries and whether or not migration from them to the U.S. increased following major storms. Finally, they looked at how the migrants entered the country.

Supreme Court ruling brings equality to nationality law

Florida residents who are seeking to become United States citizens by virtue of being the children of naturalized parents may be interested in a recent ruling. The Supreme Court has ruled that a section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act discriminates on the basis of gender between mothers and fathers.

Prior to the court's decision in June 2017, immigration law determined that individuals born abroad to American mothers had a claim to citizenship as long as the mother had lived in the U.S. at least one year. However, this was not the case for American fathers. For example, a woman born in Kentucky may have moved to Mexico as a toddler, but she could still petition the highest immigration benefit of citizenship for her daughter born in Mexico. In the case of an American man, the law required 10 years of previous residency in the U.S., and five of those years after the age of 14.

Legal permanent residence first step to U.S. citizenship

Florida attracts people from all over the world, but obtaining authorization to live or work in the country or pursue citizenship can be extremely challenging. The controversy around President Trump's desire to allow the deportation of young people who grew up in the country without proper documentation has highlighted the hurdles that anyone faces when striving to live in the United States legally.

In general, a person needs to hold a green card for a minimum of five years and live in the country for the preceding 30 months to qualify potentially as a legal permanent resident. After achieving this step, the path to citizenship requires that a person speak, read and write English, display knowledge of U.S. history and have good character. The Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States must also be given.

Expired green cards must be renewed before naturalization

Lawful permanent residents in Florida who wish to become naturalized U.S. citizens must apply for naturalization within six months of their green cards' expiration dates. If they don't, they will need to replace their green cards before they will be allowed to apply.

The United States Customs and Immigration Service takes the position that residents must apply for naturalization within six months of the expiration of their green cards even though they will not need the cards once they are naturalized. This means that people will have to order new green cards by completing the I-90 form to replace the cards and paying the fee.

Threat to DACA brings deportation concerns

Many undocumented immigrants living in Florida have, for the past several years, been taking advantage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. These "Dreamers," as they are colloquially known, are individuals who were brought to the United States as children by their undocumented parents or family members. While DACA protected Dreamers from the risk of deportation, the new administration is considering scrapping the program altogether.

The ramifications of ending DACA are significant. Many Dreamers arrived in the United States when they were babies or toddlers and have no memory of connection to their original homelands. If DACA is suspended, however, Dreamers are at risk of being deported to a country where they have no friends, no family and lack appropriate networks for finding work. In some cases, a Dreamer who grew up speaking English may not even be able to speak the language of the country to which they are deported.

Issuance of nonimmigrant visas suspended in Russia

Florida residents may recall that in July, Congress approved sanctions against Russia in retaliation for allegedly interfering with the presidential election in the United States. In return, Russia reduced the U.S. embassy and consulate staff by 755 employees. This left roughly one-third of the staff in place. The U.S. response was to temporarily shut down the issuance of nonimmigrant visas in Russia.

The shutdown started on Aug. 23 and will last for eight days. It applies to visas for investors, intracompany transferees and skilled workers. It also applies to people seeking H-1B visas and L1 visas. On Sept. 1, visa interviews will begin again but only in Moscow. Until further notice, there will be no visa interviews in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg or Vladivostok. It is necessary to make nonimmigrant visa appointments in Moscow, and appointments for foreign nationals may have been canceled. It is anticipated that wait times for work visas will grow to five months or longer from two months.

Program assisting minors from Central America ends

Some minors fleeing violence in Central America have settled in Florida under a federal program, known as the Central American Minors program, which has been in operation since the end of 2014. On Aug. 16, the program ended. The Trump administration had placed it under review in January shortly after the inauguration, and the applications of 2,700 children with conditional approval for the program were put on hold. Those applications will now be canceled.

Since the program's implementation, 1,500 children and family members have been admitted into the United States. They are then placed under a two-year parole that allows them to live and travel in the United States and seek work permits. The program's termination means that when they reapply after the two-year period, they will only be permitted to stay for humanitarian reasons or for public benefit.

Obtaining permanent residency

There are multiple ways foreign investors can become a permanent resident of the U.S. with a green card if they already hold an E-2 visa. Foreign investors should be mindful that if they are successful at obtaining permanent residence in Florida or any other state in the country, they will be taxed on any income they earn, even if it is not earned in the United States. However, with an effective tax plan, they can avoid encountering any tax complications.

Countries such as Lebanon, Russia, Brazil, Dubai, and China do not have an investment treaty agreement with the United States. Foreign investors who reside in these countries may obtain E2 visas through the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program. However, pursuing permanent residency through the Grenada citizenship scheme can be very costly.

Study shows economic benefits to H-1B visa program

Florida company executives who are familiar with the H-1B visa program may be interested to learn that a study has shown that it provides economic benefits to the United States as well as to India. The study was conducted by the University of Michigan and the Center for Global Development, and it found that in 2010, employees in the U.S. were about $431 million wealthier because of the visa program.

That same year, the combined income of the two countries was more than $17 billion and the total IT output rose by about .45 percent because of the visa. The program also resulted in the creation of better technology which led to better productivity elsewhere. Software and hardware prices also went down 1 percent in the U.S. and 7.4 percent in India.

Hiring foreign experts doesn't have to be difficult

There is a glut of educated professionals looking for work. In fact, there are numerous engineers, chemists and other professionals who would gladly work for your company. However, many of them may have been born and educated in another country. Don't let the process of international hiring scare you off from finding talent that fits precisely with your company's needs.

Many employers are failing to utilize the massive pool of talent in their industry out of concerns about paperwork. While there are extra steps involved, you can streamline your international hiring by working with lawyers.