People in California who are considering filing for permanent residence or citizenship or doing other immigration-related paperwork may want to do so sooner rather than later as the cost of those services is set to rise. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' budget of $3 billion annually is primarily funded by application fees.
California residents may be aware that immigration authorities sometimes grant visas to foreign workers who possess specialized training or qualifications, but they may not know that a similar program exists for those who want to enter the United Sates to perform low-paying jobs that require few skills. Workers entering the country on the H-2B visa program are allowed to remain in America for three years, and employers in the hospitality and services sector often say that the program helps their businesses by allowing them to keep their prices competitive.
Some people who want to immigrate to California are able to do so by using the EB-5 visa program. This type of visa is reserved for foreign investors who are able to invest at least $500,000 or more in job-creating business ventures., and it can provide an eventual path to citizenship for those who qualify.
The H-1B visa program has proven so popular that the number of applications for the 2017 fiscal year exceeded the limit within the first week of filing for the fourth consecutive year. Employers in California and elsewhere around the country will now have to await the results of a lottery before they know if their petitions have been accepted. The process could take up to 10 business days, based upon the results from previous years.
Although communities close to California's southern border with may see significant levels of immigration from Mexico, much of the United States' immigration traffic is now coming from Asian countries. Statistics indicate that immigration from Mexico hit its peak in the mid-2000s. By 2014, California's numbers had decreased by approximately 66 percent from 2005 figures. Meanwhile, the state's number of immigrants from China tripled during the same time frame.
California companies engaged in agriculture may be interested in a release by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification regarding the sale or restructuring of a business with H-2A employees. After a successor has become the employer of H-2A workers, it may use the existing certification as long as all undertakings and liabilities are upheld. There is no specific process to adopt a certification, but it is clear that the successor may use any certification that already exists.
Some foreign-born individuals working in California could have an easier time applying for and extending their work visas. The Department of Homeland Security announced some changes to immigration regulations that could benefit citizens of Australia, Chile, Singapore and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. They were announced on Jan. 15 as a final rule published in the Federal Register.
Many employers in California are able to recruit qualified foreign workers to their companies using H-1B and L-1 employment-based visas. On Dec. 18, a new act was signed into law that has made H-1B and L-1 visas much more expensive for employers. The Consolidated Appropriations Act applies to companies that employ at least 50 workers in the United States, over half of which hold H-1B or L non-immigrant status.
People in California who are targeted for deportation are sometimes allowed to remain in the country. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials may choose to exercise prosecutorial discretion when the removal of an immigrant is not a high priority. Like deferred action, prosecutorial discretion will stop the deportation process.
On Dec. 15, Congress agreed to extended the EB-5 immigrant investor program until Sept. 30, 2016, without changes as part of an omnibus spending bill. The program has provided funding that has reinvigorated neighborhoods throughout the country. However, some California developers and investors may not be aware that this program has been under fire since it was introduced in 1990.