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Louisville Immigration Law Blog

The road to a green card can be long

For many immigrants in Kentucky, getting a green card represents the peak and pinnacle of their desires. Having that card means you are welcome in the United States, granted permanent residency. Perhaps the next step after that will be full naturalization so that you can enjoy the full rights of U.S. citizenship. The green card opens up an array of possibilities.

The road to green card status is not an easy one. As indicted in our previous post, it might start by getting an employment visa. Because they are limited and based on meeting specific criteria, it can be difficult to get even that. Navigating the sea of immigration laws that currently exist is something to do with the help of an experienced attorney.

Do you qualify for an employment visa?

Each fiscal year, the United States government grants 140,000 employment visas. If your education, skills and work experience fall into one of the five employment visa categories, you could obtain the right to reside here. Of course, you must meet all of the other qualifications required for entry into the country.

What can I as an undocumented immigrant do to protect my rights?

The current environment regarding immigration is unpredictable. Whether you live in Kentucky or any other state, if you are an undocumented immigrant or know someone who is, what could happen next is one big question mark. Even when your legal status is solid, the desire to avoid deportation can cause worry. In uncertain times, fear only increases.

What is important to remember is that regardless what one's residence status may be, everyone has rights. There are organizations in place committed to helping those who may be concerned about removal. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney should always be a priority. Ultimately, the main objective should be to know your rights.

Immigrant faces deportation in underage sex case

Immigrants in Kentucky who have permanent residency may be interested to hear that on Feb. 27, the Supreme Court heard a case that had to do with a permanent resident who was facing deportation. The man had been convicted in California after having sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. He was 20 and 21 at the time, and according to California law, if an individual is under 18 and there is more than a three-year age difference with the person they are having sex with, the act is criminal.

The man has lived in the United States since he was 12, and he served 90 days in California after pleading no contest. Deportation proceedings against him began after he moved to Michigan. However, he is arguing that under federal law and the laws of more than 40 states, his offense was a less serious one.

Senators sponsor immigration bill

Some people in Kentucky may be concerned about recent changes to immigration law and wonder if they or their loved ones could be deported. In February, hundreds of immigrants were detained in several cities across the country. On Feb. 16, three Democratic senators introduced a bill that would overturn an Executive Order that called for the deportation of many more immigrants and the withholding of funding for sanctuary cities. Some employers may be concerned as well since the deportations could result in a labor shortage.

John Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said that around three-fourths of the people deported were convicted criminals and that the law was aimed at them and gang members as well as people who had previously violated immigration law. While there were reports that the National Guard might be mobilized to assist with deportations, the administration has denied this claim. However, Kelly signed a DHS memorandum on Feb. 17 that addresses the possibility of using state employees or officers to enforce immigration.

Executive order may prevent individuals from entering U.S.

Kentucky residents may have heard of a concept called advance parole. It allows individuals applying for permanent residency in the United States to return to the country after traveling overseas. Parole may be granted to asylees or those who are in the United States as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. However, President Donald Trump may sign an executive order that could make it harder for individuals to use advance parole to reenter the country.

It is important to note that such an order has yet to be signed. It is also important to note that it would not apply to those who hold an H-1B or an L-1A or L-IB visa. Employers and foreign nationals who are going through the green card process may wish to ask for or extend such a status until they have their green cards.

Deportation policy differences from Obama to Trump nuanced

No one in Kentucky would argue that U.S. policy on deportation of undocumented immigrants hasn't undergone a change. Raids by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency across the country resulted in the arrests of nearly 700 individuals. Many are calling it a mass enforcement operation.

Some hail the actions as necessary, while immigration advocates are critical. One group under the umbrella of the group United We Dream says, "It is time to sound the national alarm bell." For anyone fighting deportation efforts, that may well ring true, but some say a more reasoned examination of conditions is called for.

Riding out political change regarding H1-B visas

Some time ago, before Jeff Sessions was confirmed as the new Attorney General of the United States, he petitioned former Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate companies throughout the nation regarding their use of the H1-B visa program. If you or your family member has crossed borders into this country through the program, you know the process is complex and challenging at best and wrought with problems that have left many immigrants worried about their statuses and way of life in America.

There's more to immigrant sanctuary than some label

There is a great deal of emotional upheaval in Kentucky and the rest of the country over the state of federal policy on immigration. The Trump administration has suffered a setback from the courts on its efforts to curtail travel by individuals from majority Muslim countries. At the same time, the president has issued a warning that his administration is prepared to cut federal funds to local jurisdictions identified as so-called "sanctuary cities" and step up action on deportations.

What does that mean, and what does such a designation mean in the Louisville area? The question must certainly be top of mind for many if the headlines in the news are any indication. As one recent story noted, there is no formal definition for what constitutes a sanctuary city under federal law. What the term indicates, though, is that a local government follows a policy of not being proactive in turning over arrested undocumented immigrants to federal officials for deportation.

Concerning immigration, hope remains in the rule of law

This is a tough time for immigrants in Kentucky. One big reason for this is the confusion that has reigned since the president signed his executive order suddenly restricting movements of individuals from seven Muslim countries. The order doesn't specifically speak to possible efforts to deport individuals already in the U.S., but it would be naïve to suggest that there's no reason for them to be concerned.

Still, one thing that should provide some measure of hope is that the rights of people in Kentucky and the rest of the country are protected under the rule of law. What is clear from the reaction to the president's order is that people are turning to the courts for relief against treatment that they believe to be unjust, and they are winning.

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