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Louisville Immigration Law Blog

Immigration Services

How can highly skilled immigrants lawfully work in Kentucky?

Many foreign-born people working in Kentucky and across the United States have a college degree. There are four common ways a person from another nation can lawfully reside in the U.S. They could obtain a H-1b visa, an F-1 visa, a green card or through the Optional Practical Training program.

An H-1B visa can allow a person born in another country who has a bachelor's degree or higher and specialized knowledge to temporarily work in the U.S. These visas are granted to employers, not the person. There is a cap on how many H-1B visas will be approved annually, and they are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. An H-1B visa allows a foreign-born worker to reside in the U.S. for six years, and it can be renewed if the worker is awaiting approval for permanent residency status.

Family reunification is important to many people in Kentucky

Many people in Kentucky have loved ones living abroad that wish to lawfully enter the U.S. In order to do so, it is important to understand the family immigration process. This includes knowing what visa is most appropriate to your situation and what steps you need to take to obtain one. Depending on the relation to the sponsor, some family-based visas are limited in number, while others are unlimited. Again, knowing what is in one's best option takes a good understanding of immigration law.

However, the process of obtaining a visa can seem daunting to many who wish to come to petition a loved one to come to the U.S. on a family-based visa or marriage visa. After all, there is a lot of paperwork and documentation involved, and if the right forms aren't submitted at the right time, the entire process could be slowed down or could even lead to a denial. That is a result no one seeking a visa for a loved one wants to see.

Are you safe from ICE if you hide in a church?

If you already know U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is seeking to have you removed from the country, or if your situation places you at risk of deportation, you may have many questions about your options. In fact, you may spend much of your time wondering and worrying about what to do and what will happen to you and your family if ICE officials force you to leave the United States.

Perhaps you have seen news stories about individuals or families who hide in churches as a way of seeking sanctuary from government officials and the process of deportation. If you are considering taking this dramatic and unorthodox step, you should know a few facts about immigration law and the reasons why you may not be as safe as you think in a Kentucky church.

Government shutdown affects U.S. permanent residency hearings

The shutdown of the federal government has affected the lives of many people in Kentucky and across the United States. This includes not just residents who work for the federal government and those in need of services performed by federal agencies, but also immigrants seeking U.S. permanent residency.

While detained docket cases will continue to work their way through immigration courts through the government shutdown, non-detained docket cases have been cancelled. As of January 11, this meant that over 42,000 Immigration Court hearings have been cancelled, including hearings for those seeking U.S. permanent residency. Every week that the government shutdown continues will add another 20,000 cases to that number. It is estimated that if the government shutdown continues through the end of January, approximately 100,000 people will have had their immigration hearings cancelled, leaving them and their status in the nation in limbo.

New year brings change to laws affecting U.S. permanent residency

Immigration law and policy is constantly in flux. 2019 saw numerous changes to the landscape of immigration regulations and guidelines in the United States that could affect immigrants in Kentucky and across the nation. Some of these changes affect those seeking U.S. Permanent Residency.

One change affects the procedure the government will follow when providing an immigrant with a Notice to Appear with regards to deportation proceedings. Specifically, the reasons for which a person can be summoned for deportation proceedings has been expanded. Now, public benefits fraud or other violations related to the receipt of government benefits, criminal activities and arriving in the U.S. on a visa but then overstaying the time they are legally permitted to stay in the country could lead to deportation proceedings.

What rights and responsibilities do US permanent residents have?

When an immigrant in Kentucky or elsewhere decides they wish to stay in the country permanently, they will need to apply to become a permanent resident. U.S. Permanent residency is a privilege, and as such, bestows upon a person both rights and responsibilities. It is one step on the road to one day becoming a U.S. citizen.

Permanent U.S. residents are permitted to live and work in the United States. They can own property in the United States and their children can receive a public education. If they wish they can apply for a driver's license in the state they reside in. They can even join certain branches of the military. If they meet eligibility requirements, they can receive certain government benefits such as Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and Medicare. Permanent residents can seek visas for their spouse and unmarried children. With some restrictions, permanent residents are permitted to leave the nation and return again. Finally, once they meet eligibility requirements, permanent residents can apply for citizenship in the United States.

Government shutdown may affect removal hearings

The most recent federal government shutdown that began just before Christmas 2018 has had a major effect on many individuals in the nation, including some in Kentucky. The fact that many federal employees aren't being paid has been given a lot of attention in the news. However, another sector of people -- migrants awaiting a hearing on their immigration status -- are also being impacted by the government shutdown.

The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that during the federal government shutdown, only cases for migrants who are currently detained will be heard. Cases for migrants who have been released from detention but remain in the U.S. will not be heard during the shutdown. This means that some migrants who have been waiting for years for their day in court will have to wait longer, and the backlog in cases being heard in the nation's immigration courts will grow larger.

Preparing for your deportation trial

No matter the circumstances that placed you at risk for removal, you are likely afraid and confused. Deportation may mean leaving behind loved ones, perhaps even your own children, and returning to a country you may not have seen for many years. In recent months, those who once felt safe from removal now live in fear, and those who lived in fear may now be in trouble.

The immigration courts are very different from civil or criminal courts in Kentucky and across the country. You would be wise to learn as much as possible about the removal process and your options for defense against the charges that brought you to this dangerous situation.

Religious worker visa requirements

The city of Louisville, KY is home to two seminary schools, one Presbyterian and one Baptist. These establishments train and equip pastor and missionaries for religious works around the world. Students come from many nations to attend. Upon completion, many wish to obtain permanent U.S. residency and continue their works within the states. However, there are strict requirements for the necessary visa to accomplish this.

An R1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that will allow a religious worker to reside and work in the U.S. for up to five years. The worker may then apply for a green card if so desired. There are three classifications under which a person may apply for this type of visa. They are Ministers, Professional Workers, and Other Religious Workers. A minister must have evidence from a recognized denomination authorizing the conducting of worship and other duties common to such position. A formal letter from the head of an organization, ordination certificates, and issued licenses are all acceptable forms of evidence. A professional worker is a person who wishes to work in a religious vocation, but whose position requires a U.S. Bachelor's degree or its equivalent. One example of these would be workers in the field of Christian Science. Other religious workers are all other individuals who work in a religious occupation or vocation in any form.

USCIS changes family immigration process for married couples

Love often knows no geographic bounds, and it is not unusual for U.S. citizens in Kentucky and nationwide to fall in love with someone from another country. Those from abroad who have married a U.S. citizen may obtain a Green Card allowing them to reside in the nation. However, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS has recently made changes to the Green Card application process that may affect many in the U.S going through the family immigration process.

In general, Green Cards for those who married U.S. citizens are only valid for two years. Once the two years have passed, the individual must supply proof that their marriage was not a fraudulent attempt to break immigration laws if the individual wishes to remain in the U.S. This process involves submitting Form I-751 and oftentimes each spouse must complete an interview with an official from USCIS.

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