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Indianapolis Immigration Law Blog

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.

Visa applicants required to prove health insurance coverage

Rising health care costs are troubling many people seeking visas to the United States, especially after President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring visa applicants to show that they have health insurance or the means to cover costs. The proclamation would ban immigrant applicants from entering the country if they cannot show that their health care costs will be covered. In order to receive a visa, they will need to show that they will have approved coverage or be able to manage the costs on their own, a challenging burden given the expense of American health care in Indiana and across the country.

The order is expected to take effect on Nov. 3, and it could make it more difficult for people with lower financial means to immigrate to the country. Under the proclamation, employer and family coverage plans, individual health plans and short-term health insurance plans are included. However, Medicaid or Affordable Care Act subsidized plans are excluded from being considered approved health insurance under the policy. The order does not apply to all immigrants; the children of U.S. citizens, unaccompanied minors and green card holders coming back to the country are excluded from the rule. In addition, Iraqi and Afghan nationals receiving special visas after working for the U.S. military are exempt from the obligation.

President Trump Signs Continuing Resolution Funding Government Through Nov. 21

Last week, President Trump signed H.R. 4378 a short-term continuing resolution (CR) funding the government through November 21, 2019. The CR prevents a government shutdown and also ensures that the EB-5 Regional Center Programs authorization is extended. This short-term extension is welcome news in advance of the EB-5 Programs pending sunset date of September 30. 

USCIS policy changes raise H-1B petition denials considerably

A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought forward by the American Immigration Lawyers Association has revealed documents that detail how the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has raised the denial rates for H-1B petitions. Indiana companies that are seeking an H-1B visa for prospective foreign employees now face a much higher rate of rejection compared to a few years ago. In 2015, USCIS adjudicators denied 6% of these visa applications. During the first quarter of fiscal year 2019, the denial rate had jumped to 32%.

Requests for Evidence from adjudicators have also stalled roughly 60% H-1B petitions in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. A policy change uncovered within USCIS documents accounts for the high rate of requests for additional information from employers. A USCIS memorandum from February 2018 instructs adjudicators to ask employers for highly detailed work itineraries to validate that they will be engaging in an acceptable employer-employee relationship with the prospective worker. Since these visas typically apply to three-year periods of employment, employers must now present an exhaustive itinerary of work assignments covering all three years. The itinerary must explain dates of service and names and addresses of clients.

Does your extraordinary ability qualify you for an EB-1 visa?

If it has been your goal to come to the U.S., you may have begun your quest years ago by obtaining special skills or education that would qualify you for an employment visa. Employment visas allow you to live and work in the U.S. for a certain period of time, enjoying many of the benefits of permanent residency.

The U.S. government offers a limited number of employment visas, and since the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services divides these into several categories, you would be wise to learn all you can about the process and the eligibility requirements. EB-1 visas have the highest priority.

Expedited immigration removal policies

Individuals living in Indiana and around the country may be concerned about recent efforts by the federal government to track down and remove undocumented immigrants from the United States. Recently, new policies have made it easier for some undocumented immigrants to be removed from the country without a hearing before a judge.

Historically, non-citizens living in the United States who do not have an appropriate visa have had the right to a court hearing. One exception to this has been those who have been in the United States for less than two weeks and were apprehended less than 100 miles from a border. These individuals might be fast-tracked for removal regardless of whether they've been offered a hearing.

White House proposes indefinite detention for immigrant families

Indiana residents may be aware that some of the steps President Trump has taken to slow the flow of immigrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border have been challenged in the courts by civil rights groups. The White House has scored a handful of victories in these cases and suffered many defeats, and a new legal battle seems to be brewing. On Aug. 21, the Trump administration announced that it plans to allow immigration authorities to keep migrant families in detention centers while their asylum claims are being processed. It is a move that is almost certainly going to prompt a legal challenge.

Immigrant families are currently released within 20 days under the provisions of a 1997 court settlement. The proposed rule would authorize their indefinite detention. The president's critics say he is attempting to use his executive powers to bypass Congress and undermine immigration policies that have been in place for many years, but Trump says that he is doing what has to be done to avert a humanitarian and economic crisis.

Russian chess grandmaster having trouble getting visa to US

If you have had to apply for a U.S. employment-based visa, you know that the process can take a long time. Your application must have all the proper documents and forms to guarantee approval. And immigration officials will take time to go over all the forms to make sure you qualify.

But for Russian chess grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, the process is taking longer than usual. He has waited since March for visa approval to teach at a chess summer camp in the U.S. Now with fall approaching, he still waits for approval.

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