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Cleveland Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Changes coming wth immigration reform

Ohio residents may be interested in the potential changes that could transpire due to the immigration reform proposed by President Obama in November 2014. On Feb. 24, the President presented a rule revision for visas that will allow highly skilled spouses to begin working in the U.S. this year. Some of these foreign-born spouses have been ineligible to work in this country because of existing immigrant laws.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director believes that the new changes may encourage more highly skilled employees to enter the country and work on H-1B visas or apply for a green card and remain in the U.S. He believes that accepting more of these highly skilled foreign workers into the U.S. may help bolster the economy. He also noted that many of these families experience financial struggles due to the employment constraints created by current laws. According to ABC News, there are approximately 85,000 of these visas issued every year.

Eligibility for temporary protected status

Foreign nationals in Ohio may be eligible for temporary protected status if they hail from a country that is currently involved in an armed conflict. When conditions in a particular country make it difficult for the country's nationals to return safely, the Secretary of Homeland Security may designate the country or a part of the country for TPS. In addition to armed conflict, an environmental disaster or an epidemic are potential reasons for a TPS designation.

When a country is designated for temporary protected status, nationals of that country may apply for TPS during a certain time period. If an application for TPS is approved, the person will not be removable from the United States regardless of his or her current immigration status. The individual will also be eligible for an employment authorization document and can be given authorization to travel.

Stays of removal in immigration cases

An immigrant in Ohio who is facing the possibility of being removed from the United States may be granted a temporary stay of removal. This type of action postpones what would have otherwise been done by the Department of Homeland Security so that an appeal of the immigration decision can be heard.

A stay of removal may be granted automatically or on a discretionary basis. An automatic stay of removal is only issued if an immigrant who was targeted for removal files an appeal within the proper time period. The Board of Immigration Appeals will hear the appeal of an immigration decision, and the automatic stay of removal will end once the BIA makes a final ruling on the case.

Applying for asylum with family members

Individuals may apply for asylum in the United States whether they are already in the country, even if their presence is illegal. Upon application in Ohio or any other state, asylum seekers must list their spouses and children on their applications, which is Form I-589. It is also on this application where they have the option to note that those immediate family members be included in the asylum decision.

Any children added to an asylum application must be younger than 21 and unmarried. The applicants have to provide proof of their relationships with spouses and children, such as marriage and birth documents. Otherwise, any children who are older than 21 or married and who wish to seek asylum along with their parents have to file their own applications.

Representing immigrants charged with falsely claiming citizenship

Ohio residents who have not yet attained citizenship status in the United States may have underestimated the severity of lying about this matter. You may be facing a charge of making a false claim to citizenship, causing you and your loved ones to develop concerns about your continued stay in the U.S. You may be accused of claiming citizenship on a job application or on an I-9 Employment Eligibility form. Authorities may have charged you with indicating that you had citizenship status to get a mortgage or a student loan in the interest of buying a home or furthering your education.

Some people believe that claiming citizenship status on a non-government document would not carry consequences as severe as those they might face for doing so on a government document. However, all false claims to citizenship violate federal law and could result in serious criminal penalties that may include deportation.

What citizenship means for Ohio residents

Anyone who becomes a United States citizen is entitled to additional benefits while living in the country. They also bear additional responsibilities that come with being a citizen. One of the prime benefits of obtaining citizenship is obtaining the right to vote in federal elections. In some cases, citizenship is the only way to vote in some state elections.

Another prime benefit of becoming a United States citizen is the ability to bring family members into the county and possibly starting them on the path to citizenship. Furthermore, a child who is born anywhere in the world may be considered an American citizen if he or she is born to at least one parent with American citizenship. In exchange for those rights, citizens are expected to register to vote and other take part in their communities.

Obtaining permanent resident status in the U.S.

Some Ohio residents may be interested in the way permanent resident status may be obtained in the United States. At this time, federal law allows foreign nationals to apply at the U.S. consulate in their home country or by petitioning for an adjustment of status when already in the United States.

Visa availability varies by category. Individuals in certain categories may need to wait until visas are open to them. If visa openings exist, the foreign national may file Form I-485 at the same time as the petition for permanent status. This concurrent filing may be open to those whose relatives are U.S. citizens.

An overview of immigration detainers

Ohio law enforcement agencies may encounter situations in which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement may desire to take into custody an individual who has been held in a facility at the local, state or federal level. Immigration detention notification is accomplished with an immigration detainer on Form I-247. The notice accomplishes several goals, including notification of intent to assume custody, request for information about an impending release of an alien, and request for an individual to be held beyond the intended release date so that ICE can assume custody.

The purpose of these detainers is to allow ICE to remove criminal aliens from the country who have been held in custody by law enforcement personnel. There may be cases in which an individual's presence in the United States may be important, such as when a candidate for removal is to be prosecuted or serve as a witness in another case. In such situations, it is important for law enforcement personnel to inform ICE.

Military naturalization eligibility and process

Some members of the military in Ohio are eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens due to their service. To be eligible, people must serve or have served in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Service eligibility is based on service in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or National Guard.

Military members have a streamlined naturalization process, and many of the physical presence and residence period requirements do not apply. If the member has separated from the military, the separation must have been an honorable one. Service members must demonstrate a good understanding of English and U.S. civics. Those who have served during peacetime or have recently separated from the military following peacetime service must be lawful permanent residents, must have served honorably for a year or longer and either have applied while still in the service or within six months of separation.

Family-based immigration requirements

Immigration law allows U.S. citizens in Ohio and around the country to petition for family-based immigration visas for certain types of family members. Some of these visas are unlimited, while others are limited to a certain number of allowable visas issued per year across the country.

For immediate family members, U.S. citizens can petition on behalf of their spouse, their unmarried children who are younger than 21, for a parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 and for an orphan that was either adopted in another country or one that the U.S. citizen intends to adopt within the United States. Family members who qualify as the immediate relatives of the U.S. citizen in these categories are not limited by fiscal year visa number limits.

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