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Boulder Colorado Immigration And Naturalization Legal Blog

New Trump administration rule could deny visas to poor immigrants

On Aug. 12, the Trump administration announced a new rule that could significantly lower the number of legal immigrants eligible to obtain and maintain residency in California and the rest of the United States. The rule change continues the Trump Administration's aggressive stance on immigration.

Under the new rule, which is 837 pages long and will impact approximately 382,000 people, immigrants who have low incomes, limited education or use public benefits for a certain amount of time could be denied a green card. For example, those who use public benefits for 12 months within a three-year period could become ineligible to remain in the country. In addition, each benefit used counts as a separate incident, so two benefits will count as two months of use. Benefits such as food stamps, housing vouchers and most forms of Medicaid are included under the rule, which is scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 15.

Are you updated on US immigration policy changes?

Keeping up to date on U.S. immigration law policies is challenging, to say the least. Laws are often complex, and lawmakers are constantly adding new laws that may or may not affect your particular legal status if you happen to be a Colorado immigrant. It's difficult for the average person to follow or even understand the many immigration issues that have a significant impact on people's lives today.

You likely know other immigrants in your area. If a particular issue causes you concern, someone you know might be well-versed enough on the topic to offer guidance and support. However, the more you learn about your rights and how to protect them, the more confident you can be if a legal obstacle arises that places your legal status at risk.

International students face lengthy visa delays

While the restrictions imposed on refugees and asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border have received more widespread media attention, others in the U.S., including international students and workers, are also facing escalated problems as they aim to remain in the country. Students and new graduates who have attended university in California are facing lengthy delays or even denials when applying for visas to complete necessary training and launch their careers. For example, international medical residents coming from countries as close as Canada or as far as China have been delayed in their education by immigration hold-ups.

Medical residents and other trainees need OPT, or Optional Practical Training, visas in order to go through the next stage of credentialing. Without an OPT visa, a medical resident cannot see patients and provide medical care. At one large teaching hospital, over 900 international students applied for OPT visas for their medical residencies. However, only 400 have been approved. The delays have hindered students at highly selective universities like Harvard and MIT where the international students involved have already been found to be some of the most promising at a global level.

Know your rights if an ICE officer approaches you

When you live or work in Colorado or any other state, you have certain personal rights protected under the U.S. Constitution. No one can undermine those rights for any reason. The more you understand your rights ahead of time, the better able to protect them you might be if a legal problem arises. As one of many immigrants in this state, you might have concerns about legal status problems.

Recent news stories show how stressful it can be for immigrants who suddenly or unexpectedly encounter Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at home, work or elsewhere. If such a situation occurs in your or your loved one's life, it is critical that you know where to seek immediate support and guidance.

Court blocks enforcement of Trump asylum rule

A California court has ruled to block the enforcement of a Trump administration rule that would deny nearly all applications for asylum at the nation's southern border. The judge issued an injunction against the rule, which requires that asylum seekers look for safe haven in another country before applying for asylum in the U.S. The rule is thereby suspended until further proceedings have been conducted. According to an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, the decision is a victory for vulnerable families and individuals.

The rule that was blocked was part of the Trump administration effort to slow the number of Central Americans attempting to cross into the U.S. at the border with Mexico. Many of these asylum seekers are fleeing from poverty and violence in countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The rule was announced on July 15, 2019, and it was met with immediate challenges from civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union.

Are you 1 of 700,000 who will become US citizens this year?

When you and your family traveled from abroad and crossed a U.S. border, you may have had an ultimate goal in mind: to become a U.S. citizen. Perhaps your Colorado neighborhood has several households that include immigrants. As you prepare for citizenship, it can be helpful to talk to others who have already succeeded in such goals. Their insight and advice can provide strong support, especially if you're worried about possible obstacles that may arise along the way.

The more support you have, the better when it comes to navigating the immigration system. Any type of error in paperwork can delay the processing of your case. Also, you must be well prepared to take tests and to interview with immigration officials. During your journey, any number of legal obstacles can arise, which is why it's also wise to learn as much as you can ahead of time about where to seek legal status support.

Spousal immigration can come with lengthy delays

Spousal immigration is one of the most common ways for people to join their loved ones in California or elsewhere in the United States. Of course, people who marry want to live together in the same place as quickly as possible. Still, delays in processing time or for lengthy investigations may keep people separated for longer than they may expect. At congressional hearings into the issue of processing delays in the U.S. immigration system, spousal sponsorships were specifically identified as an area of concern where action is needed to improve the system.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration publishes processing times for spousal immigration applications. However, these processing times may not show the full picture of the delays experienced by couples seeking a spousal sponsorship. For example, the USCIS website reports a five-month processing time for I-130 applications. These are submitted by U.S. citizen spouses seeking to sponsor their partners. While this application takes five months to process, the longer processing time begins only after that is approved. The foreign spouse must then apply to adjust status to permanent residency if he or she is in the country or to enter the U.S. from abroad if living outside.

Trump administration makes asylum rules more restrictive

On July 15, the Trump administration drastically changed the U.S. asylum policy for immigrants moving through multiple countries to reach the southern border of the United States, making most families fleeing violence in Central America ineligible to enter California or other border states. A representative of the American Civil Liberties Union called the move "patently unlawful".

The policy change was published in the federal register and is scheduled to take effect on July 16. It states that most migrant adults and children traveling alone who attempt to enter the U.S. over its southern border without first applying for asylum in any other countries they may have passed through en route are ineligible to apply for asylum in the U.S. However, the new rule also states that asylum is a "discretionary immigration benefit" that can be "generally" declared by immigrants who physically present themselves in the United States. In a statement, Attorney General William Barr said the rule changes are meant to stop immigrants from abusing the system.

Culture shock stress: Legal issues can make it worse

When you stepped onto U.S. soil and traveled to Colorado, you knew you were leaving behind everything and everyone with which you were familiar in your country of origin. Still, you had plans and dreams of starting afresh and building a new life and memories for yourself and perhaps your loved ones, if they traveled with you.

Culture shock is definitely a reality for many immigrants. Especially if you encounter significant challenges regarding a language barrier, you might have a difficult time adjusting to your new surroundings. There are several ways to help alleviate culture shock stress. However, if you also happen to run into legal problems, perhaps regarding your or a loved one's immigration status, it can make matters even worse. That's why it's important to know where to seek additional support, as needed.

Judge rules in favor of immigrants regarding detention policies

Migrants who are in custody after seeking asylum in the United States have the right to seek bail according to a federal judge. The ruling goes against an order from Attorney General William Barr to not grant bail for asylum seekers even after they have passed a credible fear review. The judge ruled that the directive violated the Constitution as it deprived those individuals of their right to due process.

The judge further ordered that those who request a hearing must get one within seven days. If a hearing is not scheduled within seven days, the detainee must be released. A variety of immigrant rights groups had taken legal action to defend what some claimed to be already settled law. However, a statement from the White House press secretary's office was critical of the ruling.

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