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Indianapolis Immigration Law Blog

Migrant deported despite obtaining withholding of removal

People in Indiana who are seeking asylum may be interested to learn that an immigrant from Venezuela who was granted protection from deportation while in the process of seeking asylum was sent to Mexico anyway. The man had been a police officer in Venezuela, and he and his family had been targeted for violence after he refused to arrest people because of the political party they were in.

The man waited in Mexico for almost three months before he was allowed to appear before a judge, who granted him protection from deportation. However, afterwards, the man was returned to Mexico. Although the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in December that any migrants who won their case should be allowed to remain in the country, the agency later said they could return a migrant to Mexico if there was an appeal pending.

Japanese immigrants missing out on EB-5 benefits

With a solid economy and low crime rate, Japan is a wonderful place to live. It is no surprise that its citizens generally stay instead of migrating to other countries. However, certain factors may cause someone from Japan to look for better opportunities in other parts of the world. The United States is a popular destination for those leaving Japan. In fact, about 426,000 Japanese citizens live in the U.S., including many in Indiana communities.

Unfortunately, many of those who travel from Japan to the U.S. are unaware of one valuable option for achieving lawful permanent resident status. If you are looking for investment opportunities overseas, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offers an exciting way for you and your family to obtain residency while investing in the growth of the U.S. economy. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is an underutilized program for those in Japan who wish to make a significant, long-term investment.

Outsourcing increases despite H-1B visa clampdown

Companies in Indiana and across the country are facing more frequent denials of their H-1B visa applications, typically used to sponsor a visa for a foreign national with a high level of technical skill. In many cases, H-1B visa recipients attended U.S. universities and graduate schools and are highly trained in scientific or technical disciplines. Government officials have stated that the use of H-1B visas is reviewed strictly because some companies and industries may be using them to bring in highly skilled workers more cheaply than their American counterparts. However, others say that restricting H-1B visas hurts only American businesses and highly skilled workers while other jobs continue to be outsourced abroad.

One report indicates that companies like AT&T are laying off a number of workers in the U.S. before establishing outsourced jobs overseas. The report said that U.S.-based workers had to train their replacements, who work for international firms contracted to provide services to the telecom giant. These layoffs are not affected by the visa denials and tend to focus less on highly skilled tech workers and more on call centers, administrative tasks and other jobs that can be easily done outside the U.S.

LGBTQ asylum seekers face unique challenges

LGBTQ couples may face particular challenges dealing with the U.S. immigration system, especially if they are coming from countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage. Many Indiana residents are concerned about how changes in the federal government's approach to immigration may affect some of the most vulnerable people in the migrant population. For example, one openly gay couple from Honduras fled to the U.S. to seek asylum after facing harassment, death threats and violent attacks against them in their home country based on their sexual orientation. After months of online threats, they were attacked by gun-wielding gang members, prompting them to flee to the United States.

When they arrived at the southern border, both men filed asylum claims. However, because they were not married to one another, the immigration system could not link them. This meant that their cases would be handled entirely separately, without some of the benefits that married couples can access. Married couples can be separated while their claims for asylum are processed, but a successful married asylum claimant can sponsor a spouse.

Cost of some immigration applications are going up

A recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announcement indicates that the cost of citizenship applications will increase to $1,170 from $640. That's an 83% rise in the cost of citizenship applications. The USCIS is a federal agency, so the price increase will impact people applying for citizenship in Indiana and all over the country. The agency has proposed a 21% increase in the overall cost of some immigration applications, saying the increase in prices is required to cover costs and pay for applicant reviews.

The USCIS proposal also limits or eliminates the availability of certain fee waiver programs. Some political analysts have opined that the increased prices might keep people who are otherwise eligible from completing the process of legal immigration. The acting director of USCIS said the agency is required to look at incoming funds and expenditures in much the same way a business would have to. The fee adjustments would reportedly minimize subsidies needed to cover applicants' costs.

Employment-based immigration restrictions hinder tech development

Companies in Indiana have expressed concern that immigration restrictions, including new policies making it harder to bring workers from abroad or hire foreign graduates of U.S. colleges, may make American businesses less competitive. The development of artificial intelligence for military and commercial use relies on hiring the most advanced and skilled tech workers, and many companies say that American advantages in these areas rely substantially on openness to immigrants. The number of green cards permitted for employment immigration each year have not moved in decades, making it more difficult for advanced tech workers with strong skills to work for U.S. companies.

In many of the major U.S. companies working on AI and other advanced technologies, immigrants play a role in both corporate leadership and direct tech development, including research into machine learning and AI deployment. A full 66% of graduate students at U.S. universities studying AI-related disciplines are students from abroad. Many companies and universities have raised concerns about an immigration system that is only growing more, rather than less, restrictive. Limits on employment-based green cards have not changed since 1990 despite the rapidly growing and changing economy. Despite claims that the current administration supports a merit-based immigration system, in practice, companies have found even more restrictions on the use or renewal of H1-B visas.

Immigration Agencies' Intrusive Searches of Cell Phones, Laptops Are Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal court ruled this week that sweeping policies permitting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to search personal cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices without reasonable suspicion are unconstitutional.

The policies that the court rejected authorized CBP and ICE officers to search the contents of electronic devices of people arriving at U.S. borders, including U.S. airports, without reasonable suspicion that those devices might have evidence of illegal activity and without a court order. Immigration officers could randomly search the cell phones and laptops of anyone arriving in the United States, including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Worried about legal problems as an immigrant entrepreneur?

Perhaps, one of your ultimate goals in life is to become a small business owner in Indiana. If your country of origin is not the United States, you are likely to encounter numerous challenges as you bring your dream to fruition. It is a goal that many immigrants have successfully achieved, and there's no reason you shouldn't be one of them.

It pays to thoroughly research the business process as well as U.S. immigration law before taking any formal steps toward launching a business in Indiana. If you know other small business owners, they may be able to provide encouragement and support to help you get your own business started. It's also a good idea to know where to seek support if a legal issue arises.

Bipartisan support expected for Syrian interpreter visa bill

Many Indiana residents are aware that there has been controversy over President Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. Two lawmakers are introducing a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Syrian Partner Protection Act, that would reserve 4,000 visas each year for Syrian Kurds and others who assisted the U.S. in its fight against the Islamic State.

The bill is cosponsored by Republican Rep. Michael Waltz and Democratic Rep. Jason Crow. It is expected to gain bipartisan support, particularly among military veterans who are now in Congress. Waltz and Crow are retired military officers with a combat background, and Waltz was a Green Beret. The bill is similar to one enacted during the George W. Bush administration that provided visas for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters and others who worked with U.S. troops.

U.S. might start collecting DNA from detained immigrants

Indiana readers might be interested to learn that the Trump administration recently announced a proposal that would allow U.S. authorities to take DNA samples from detained immigrants. Opponents of the proposal, which was officially published on Oct. 22, say that it raises privacy concerns for minor offenders and asylum-seekers.

According to media reports, the rule would allow U.S. authorities to obtain DNA samples from any immigrant who has been taken into custody, including those whose only offense is crossing the border illegally. The proposal contains exceptions for foreign nationals applying for legal entry, those who are detained at sea or briefly detained for additional screening and those detained by officials who have no means to collect a DNA sample. The Trump administration says that the proposal is not a new rule. Instead, it simply restores powers that were authorized by Congress in 2005 and subsequently suspended by President Barack Obama. The administration further argues that collecting DNA samples could help solve criminal cases and prevent fraud.

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