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Irvine Immigration Law Blog

What to know about work visas

Foreign workers contribute valuable skills, perspectives and ideas to companies across California and the rest of the country. However, before you can legally begin work in the U.S. as a foreign national, you must obtain a work visa.

The process to obtain a work visa can be long and confusing. Each type of temporary work visa has its own rules for eligibility, duration, employer requirements and more. Whether you have a current job offer or are interested in learning more about the requirements, read on for what to know about work visas in the U.S.:

Unsafe conditions found at ICE detention centers

There has been a steady stream of reports about the conditions in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers holding migrants. Now a new report by the Office of Inspector General, which is a federal watchdog organization within the Department of Homeland Security, shows how bad things have gotten in four of them, particularly regarding unusable bathrooms and unsafe food. According to CNN, these inspections were unannounced and conducted between May and November of 2018. The facilities can hold nearly 5,000 detainees.

Unsafe food

Ex-marine sues U.S. State Department to issue passport

The military and their families sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice while serving. Ex-marine Mark Esqueda served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2007 to 2011, but he has since had his application for a passport twice rejected by the State Department, which maintains that he has insufficient documentation to prove he was born in the U.S. This is despite the fact that Esqueda had high-level clearance that requires multiple background checks while serving.

Esqueda has filed a suit against the U.S. State Department and also names Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The claim is that the State Department is asking for proof of citizenship that is beyond what is required to get a passport, and thus restricting his right as a citizen to travel freely. It also argues that being treated in this way puts his other rights as a citizen in jeopardy, including social security, employment and other benefits.

What does Trump mean with merit-based immigration

The president has attacked the country's immigration policies on several fronts as part of his declared emergency. Whether the migrants seek asylum, cross the border illegally or apply through official channels, the president sees them all as a threat.

The one group that he seems to welcome, at least this week, are those who have specific job skills. Rather than migrants with family already here, the skilled worker will be the one to get the green card. The president argues that New Zealand, Canada or Australia are allowing in merit-based workers at a much higher rate of 60% to 70%, as opposed to the 12% rate it currently is here in the United States. The web site Politifact.com analyzed these recent statements by the president and deemed them to be true mostly, but these other countries have different definitions that need to be clarified to accurately compare the numbers.

ACLU lawsuit pushes back against Trump’s weaponization of waivers

For some undocumented immigrants, marrying a United States citizen can mean a second chance at life. The marriage is supposed to open a new path to citizenship. It’s supposed to let them pursue the American dream. But under Trump, ICE has arrested newly married immigrants who met with officials from Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).

Fortunately, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has helped these immigrants fight back. The ACLU filed a federal class action lawsuit challenging the arrests. Recently, it won the right to extend the suit to all of New England.

Trump's record on immigration issues

The president is not big on planning or details. Often when speaking about important issues using his Twitter account instead of a press conference. The good news in all of this is that legislation is not created simply by demanding it in a Twitter rant. On the other hand, the administration has made many changes to the immigration system, and have many proposals that could come to pass.

Here is a rundown of where things stand on the biggest issues:

Despite measures, migration goes up

The U.S. Border Patrol has announced that nearly 100,000 migrants were arrested at the southern border in April. This is the second straight month where these numbers topped 90,000. Numbers this year project to be an estimated 531,711 apprehensions and inadmissibles. This is up from 521,090 in fiscal 2018.

Who is coming in?

Immigrants could now face DNA testing

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) acting head Kevin McAleenan recently announced that rapid DNA testing would be used on migrants at the southern border. The results will reportedly not be saved, but this test involving a swab on the inside cheek will take about 90 minutes to get the results.

The testing is U.S. immigration authority’s solution to addressing the unprecedented number of migrants and asylum seekers who arrive at the border with children. The DHS claims that record numbers of families are overwhelming facilities at the border and enable adults claiming to be parents accompanied by children to be released after 20 days as they wait for their hearing.

Trump directs officials to charge fees for asylum applicants

The Trump administration continues to explore methods to block asylum seekers from entering the country, despite the legality of seeking asylum in the United States. Their latest tactic is placing a financial burden on asylum seekers and withholding their ability to work.

In a presidential memorandum signed on April 29, President Donald Trump directed officials in the Justice Department (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to toughen rules for asylum seekers. These rules include introducing a fee for asylum applications, which are currently free to file, and barring asylum seekers who entered the country illegally from working until their claims are approved. 

Big cities and rural areas would grow slower without immigrants

One of the Trump administration’s biggest arguments against illegal immigration is the conviction that there is simply no room left for more people. Many will debate what the right amount of international immigration is, but new census data suggests there is much more room than many think. The influx of international immigrants is keeping population growth on a steady upward trend in much of the country. Even though birthrates are down and death rates have climbed, half the population growth here can be attributed to immigration.

The very large and very small

  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber