Companies in California who want to hire skilled professionals from outside the United States may need to act urgently. The H-1B visa program allows businesses inside the U.S. to hire workers from abroad with specialized knowledge, and it is frequently used in the technology, medical and other scientific industries. However, the filing season for H-1B visas in 2020 begins on April 1, 2019, and the slots tend to fill up quickly. These applications are for sponsoring full-time H-1B employees during the coming fiscal year, which will run from October 2019 through September 2020.
According to a study from the Pew Research Center, the United States has more highly-educated immigrants than any other country in the world. In states like California, these immigrants attend universities and have prestigious positions at tech companies in Silicon Valley. Surveys suggest that a majority of the American people want even more highly educated immigrants to come to the country. There are a few pathways these individuals have to get to the U.S.
Beginning in late January 2019, the U.S. government will start sending some asylum seekers who show up at the border entry point in San Ysidro, California, back to Mexico as their asylum claims are being processed. They will only be allowed to enter the country for their court appearances for the duration of the asylum process. Certain parties, such as those with fear of being in Mexico and families with young children, will still be allowed to stay in the U.S. during the process.
According to the Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), there have been 42,726 immigration court hearings canceled because of the U.S. government shutdown. Immigrants in California and throughout the country have waited as long as four years to have those hearings. There will likely be another long wait for a hearing as there are more than 800,000 cases waiting to be heard. It's unclear if this will be a good or bad thing for those individuals.
In a recent change to immigration policy, those who have recently claimed asylum will have their cases processed first. Therefore, asylum seekers who have been in California for months or years will continue to wait for their cases to be heard. The process of seeking asylum used to take only a few months, but this is no longer true because of a recent influx of people asking for protection.
Immigration authorities may want to measure a person's knowledge of the United States. To prepare for such questions, people in California who are pursuing documentation to live in the country or seeking citizenship should become familiar with basic facts about the nation and its regions and political leadership.
At some point, an immigrant living in California or any other state may need to speak with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Individuals may be able to have a positive experience by preparing for their interviews. As part of the preparation process, obtain multiple copies of relevant documents and research them carefully. Those who don't speak English have the right to bring an interpreter to the hearing.
The H1-B visa program allows employers in California and around the country to hire foreign workers to fill positions that require specific skills or scientific knowledge when suitably qualified Americans cannot be found. However, the number of H1-B applications received each year far exceeds the 65,000 visa cap established by the Immigration and Nationality Act. To prevent American companies in emerging sectors from falling behind their international competitors, Congress approved a provision that allows a further 20,000 H1-B visas to be offered each year to foreign individuals who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited U.S. university.
Some asylum seekers who hope to cross into California or another U.S. state from Mexico may be stopped at the border. Thousands of Central Americans are waiting in Mexico to come into the United States and seek asylum, but it may be weeks or months before some are allowed to cross. In the meantime, they are vulnerable to dangers on the other side of the border.
California readers may be interested to learn that Americans say immigration is the most important concern facing the nation, according to a new Gallup poll. The survey, which was conducted between Nov. 1 and Nov. 11, includes responses collected both before and after the midterm elections.