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Indianapolis Immigration Law Blog

The new Trump administration asylum application process

A new Trump administration rule, which requires most migrants to apply for asylum in one of the countries they passed through before they can file for protection in the United States, has drawn sharp criticism from immigrant rights advocates and human rights organizations and will likely be challenged in the courts.

The new rule going into effect Tuesday requires asylum seekers arriving by land, who have traversed a third country that has signed onto the international refugee convention, to apply for protection in that country before they would be eligible to apply in the United States. The vast majority of people fleeing violence and instability in Honduras and El Salvador take land routes north, and now would be forced to apply for asylum in Guatemala or Mexico, before being eligible to apply in the United States, with a few exceptions.

What is next for the immigration court system?

For years, the immigration court system has been plagued by systemic problems that have severely undermined its ability to deliver just and fair decisions in a timely manner. Housed within the DOJ, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is vulnerable to executive branch interference, a structural flaw which the current administration has exploited and which undermines the very integrity of the system. These problems are compounded by a growing case backlog that is nearing 900,000 cases. While oversight would slow the most recent policies, it would not remedy the conflict of interest inherent in an immigration court system that is firmly under the control of the Attorney General. AILA urges Congress to introduce bipartisan legislation that establishes an independent immigration court system, outside the DOJ, under Article I of the Constitution.

Immigration rule may affect asylum seekers at border

Some immigrants seeking asylum in Indiana might be denied if they passed through another country on the way to the United States. A rule by the Trump administration that was set to take effect on July 16 requires people to seek asylum in countries traveled through before doing so in the United States. There are exceptions for a few people, such as victims of human trafficking.

The rule comes as a surge of migrants from Central America continue to arrive at the southern border as they flee violence in their home countries. According to the TRAC Immigration program at Syracuse University, starting in 2017, there was a significant increase in the number of denials. Prior to that, the rate since 2001 had been between 20% and 30%. TRAC attributed the change to the policy of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who made it more difficult for people trying to escape gang or domestic violence to claim asylum.

U.S work visa types: foreign students and business professionals

There are many reasons why immigrants from other countries, especially India and Germany, immigrate to the U.S. Those reasons almost always tie to having a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Everyone wants to be successful and have opportunities that will assist them in reaching their goals.

Getting to the next level in your career might mean making some sacrifices, which could mean moving to another country. Immigrants with an employment-based focus are typically students, highly educated individuals with college degrees or established business professionals.

Visa program to sunset for non-minister religious workers

Changes are going into effect for a special immigrant visa program designed to help religious workers immigrate to Indiana or elsewhere in the United States or adjust their status to receive permanent residency. The employment-based, fourth-preference visa program has historically been available to both ministers and non-ministers coming to the U.S. to perform full-time, paid religious work. In the past, non-ministers were restricted to only 5,000 visas issued every year. However, no restrictions were placed on applications from ministers and their spouses. Now, the non-minister program is scheduled to come to an end altogether.

The non-minister special immigrant visa program has faced several other expiration dates but has been renewed in the past. On Feb. 15, 2019, President Donald Trump signed a law that provided one more extension until Sept. 30. This means that non-ministers who want to apply for a green card or immigrate to the U.S. with a special religious worker visa must complete their application process before that date. The program for ministers will not be affected by the changes, however.

Trump said to be pursuing "safe third county" asylum policy

Indiana residents may be aware that the Mexican government recently agreed to do more to stem the flow of migrants traveling from Central America to the United States after President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs. One of the measures Trump is asking for is what is known as a 'safe third country" agreement. This would prevent those hoping to be granted asylum from reaching the United States as they would be required to submit their petitions in the first safe country they reach.

Immigration experts say that such a policy would completely change the way asylum is handled in the United States as the country only shares borders with Canada and Mexico, which are both safe countries. Asylum is granted to individuals who would face violence or persecution in their home countries because of their religious beliefs, political opinions, race or national origin, but Trump says the asylum system is being abused by thousands of economic migrants who do not meet the requirements.

USCIS to restrict protections for unaccompanied migrant children

Indiana residents who are following the ongoing situation at the nation's southern border may be aware that President Trump's efforts to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the country have recently become more aggressive. The President said in late May that he planned to introduce tariffs on goods imported to the United States from Mexico unless the Mexican government takes strong action to stop migrant caravans. The following day, immigration officials announced that special protections for unaccompanied migrant children introduced during the Obama administration would be curtailed.

The new rules will prevent certain classes of unaccompanied migrant children from petitioning for asylum before a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum officer instead of an immigration judge. The protection was put into place to spare children the ordeal of formal legal proceedings. The rule change will apply to unaccompanied minors who turn 18 while in federal custody and migrant children who are reunited with their guardians or parents after crossing into the United States.

The current state of U.S. immigration policy

Keeping up with U.S. immigration policy can be difficult, and it can cause stress for anyone seeking employment in the country. You may have heard different news stories or rumors, and they may or may not be relevant for an employment-based immigrant.

The Pew Research Center put together a list of key facts about current immigration policy and proposed changes. Here are the relevant points for those seeking employment-based visas:

Immigration outlook for Indian workers may be changing

Some people from India who hope to settle in Indiana or other parts of the United States may benefit from the Trump administration's immigration plans if they are enacted. The administration wants to move toward a merit-based immigration system that admits more highly-skilled immigrants. The plan is to increase the percentage of these immigrants to 57% from the current level of 12%.

More than three-quarters of all green card applications that are in progress come from Indian applicants. Under the current system, the wait time can be 12 years or even longer. One attorney says that an improved system would provide a clearer set of objective criteria and wait times for applicants. Getting rid of caps on immigrants per country might ease the backlog. However, others caution that the new proposal may not benefit Indians as much as it appears. The new system could make some of those who have been waiting ineligible. Some applicants may not pass the new minimum threshold.

Immigrants may be subject to DNA testing

Indiana residents may know that the Trump administration has tried to implement many policies aimed at changing how people enter the United States. Individuals who are trying to cross the Mexican border into the United States may have to submit to DNA testing as part of the immigration process. The process is being implemented on a pilot basis at two or three different towns along the border. It is intended to confirm claims made by individuals claiming to be part of a family.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, children are being used by traffickers in an effort to get into the country. In many cases, entire families are released after 20 days when children must be released from custody. DHS officials say that there was a 315% increase in cases involving fake family units between October 2017 and February 2018. A representative from Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that test results would not be kept on file.

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