U.S. Law Center

Corona California Immigration Law Blog

About 78,000 applications for naturalization are denied each year

About 650,000 green card holders in California and around the country are waiting for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to respond to their applications for naturalization, and many of them are likely to be disappointed when their paperwork is processed. Between 2009 and 2018, immigration authorities denied approximately 78,000 applications for naturalization each year. Applications are routinely denied because immigrants are unable to pass a civics test, they do not possess basic English language skills, or background checks uncover grounds for refusing U.S. citizenship.

Those who submit applications for naturalization can expect a long wait. Immigration offices around the country report waiting times of between 6 and 18 months to process N-400 Applications for Naturalization. In addition to completing the application form, those hoping to be granted U.S. citizenship must pay a $640 fee and an additional $85 to be fingerprinted and have their photograph taken. The Trump administration has proposed increasing the application fee to $1,170.

Is family-based visas an important topic to you?

It often takes years for those who are immigrants in California or elsewhere in the United States to ensure that their closest family members and relatives will be able to come join them in this country. The U.S. government offers family-based visas in a variety of circumstances. If you recall navigating the U.S. immigration system when you emigrated from another country, you likely remember what a complex system it can be.

It can also be quite stressful trying to keep all your paperwork straight, comply with notices to appear at official hearings or interviews, and to do everything you need to do to adhere to U.S. immigration laws, regulations and policies. Perhaps, you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who filed a petition to sponsor a family member's journey to the United States.

Asylum seekers face difficulties in Mexico, immigration courts

Many people in California are deeply concerned about the changes made by the Trump administration to the asylum process at the southern border, especially those with friends or family members seeking protection in the United States. Rather than being granted parole into the United States, as was common in the past, many asylum seekers are forced to remain on the Mexican side of the border while they wait for their cases to be heard. They can be ordered to stay in Mexico even if they have family in the U.S. who are willing to host and vouch for them, a process that the administration claims is an attempt to crack down on people who overstay illegally.

Asylum seekers can wait months for a hearing before an immigration judge while remaining in Mexico. Under the government's program, over 55,000 migrants have been forced to remain in Mexico for their day in immigration court. In some cases, the outcomes can be particularly confusing. One man received withholding of removal, a type of deportation protection, in immigration court, only to be sent back to Mexico for their cases to continue. In at least 17 cases, people granted a form of protection against deportation were once again removed.

Provision gives some Liberians pathway to citizenship

Immigrants in California who came to the country from Liberia may be eligible for a green card and citizenship. On Dec. 26, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it was taking green card applications for Liberians, who will be able to apply for naturalization after holding a green card for five years.

From around 1989 to 2003, many Liberians came to the United States under the Deferred Enforced Departure program after their country suffered a civil war. Many were also eligible for Temporary Protected Status although the Trump administration ended this in 2017. Most had also qualified for DED at that point, and some are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. However, President Trump had planned to end the DED program as well although it was extended for Liberians to March 30, 2020. A lawsuit was filed claiming that it would be racial discrimination as well as discrimination on grounds of national origin to send them back to Liberia.

O-1 visas harder to get amid increased scrutiny

Foreign nationals who want to live and work in California or other states may be able to do so by applying for the O-1 visa. The O-1 visa is available to those who have an extraordinary musical or other type of talent. Those who have won a major award or are otherwise known for their contributions to the world of science or art typically have little problem having their applications approved.

However, those who haven't won mainstream recognition may have a harder time getting their applications approved. This is partially because the decision to allow a person to obtain such a visa is in the hands of an immigration official. Therefore, it may be necessary for an applicant to spend time documenting why his or her accomplishment was noteworthy. Individuals who are applying for an O-1 visa may also find that recent policy changes may make it harder to obtain one.

What is a Stokes interview?

When you married the love of your life and entered a new lifestyle in California, you might have felt like you were living a dream. After traveling a far distance and saying goodbye to family and friends in another country, you might also have felt nervous and worried about certain legal issues. Adapting to a new lifestyle can be challenging on several levels, including emotionally, financially and, sometimes, legally as well.

The more you know about U.S. immigration law and the better you understand your rights and how to process them, the greater your chances of overcoming any obstacles that might arise. If you are summoned to a Stokes interview, it is definitely a sign that the U.S. government wishes to carefully review your case.

Lawyers say false addresses are being used on asylum paperwork

California residents who are following the developing immigration situation at the nation's southern border may know that the Trump administration recently instituted a controversial policy that requires Central American migrants to wait in Mexico while their petitions for asylum are being processed. Asylum seekers are sent a Notice to Appear form when an asylum hearing is scheduled, but many of them say that they are not receiving NTAs.

Immigration judges can deem asylum seekers who fail to appear at hearings in absentia and order their deportation. A group of lawyers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Justice Action Center claim that U.S. Border Patrol agents are writing the address of a Mexican shelter on asylum documents regardless of whether or not the migrants actually reside there. They say that this is preventing asylum seekers from receiving NTAs. The attorneys plan to bring attention to the issue by filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court.

How the government defines various immigration terms

When is the last time you discussed the topic of immigration? You might be one of many California residents who try to steer clear of conversations regarding immigration, politics or religion because such issues tend to incite debate. However, if you or someone you love has arrived in the United States from another country of origin, it's wise to learn as much as you can about certain immigration terms, in particular, how the federal government defines them.

On the flip-side, a lack of understanding can lead to legal problems, especially concerning certain conditions, such as application for visas, green cards or seeking asylum. If you don't know what a word means, how can you be certain you are correctly following instructions to navigate a specific immigration process?

Immigration rules negatively impact unwed couples in California

A same-sex couple from Honduras believed that they would be able to live together safely after coming to the United States. They had planned to apply for asylum based on the fact that they were persecuted for their sexuality at home. However, after arriving together in California, they were sent to detention centers in different states. One of the men was sent to Colorado while the other was sent to Louisiana.

In Colorado, only 22% of asylum applications are approved, and in Louisiana, fewer than 1 out of every 10 asylum requests is granted. Since the two men were not married, there was a chance that one person could have been granted the right to stay in the United States while the other did not.

Dance studios are struggling with tougher immigration rules

Dance studio owners in California and around the country are finding it increasingly difficult to find qualified instructors, and many of them say stricter visa application requirements are to blame. A Connecticut studio owner thought that she had finally found the perfect candidate after a year of advertising, but the Greek national she planned to hire was detained at a New York airport and sent back to Europe.

The backlog for work visas is growing longer, and foreign dance instructors are being subjected to additional scrutiny and asked to produce an endless list of documents. Studio owners who cannot find qualified candidates in the United States say the Trump administration is deliberately making the process difficult. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the processing time for a work visa has grown by 46% since 2016. The current waiting time is almost 10 months.

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