H-1B Visas: What’s new? What’s next? Updates for 2021

An animated image of a person holding a H-1B visa with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

 

A large portion of our clientele rely on our services to aid them with their H-1B visas and applications for permanent residence through employment. You, reader, may in fact be one of them. So what has been happening regarding H-1Bs during Trump’s reign over America, and what differences will we see now that we have a new leader with Joe Biden? All good questions, and we’ll get to them here, in our latest blog on H-1Bs.

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Biden’s shift on immigration: A positive force for the US

President-Elect Joe Biden speaks on immigration matters in front of a crowd. He is standing next to a man and putting a hand on his shoulder. The other man is holding an anti-deportation sign that reads, “Not 1 more deportation. Moratorium on deportation on day 1.”

 

Everyone, including us, has been commenting on the fact that immigration will be much easier with the new administration taking over in 2021. You may read about why it might be better to apply for a visa or green card now that Trump is old news and Biden is now in the hot seat – but how are the current policies and laws going to shift exactly? What needs to be done in order for regular people to experience any changes in the US immigration process? Let’s walk through a few things that need to happen in order for us to see a difference between the policies of Trump’s reign, and the immigration regulations of this bright new year.

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What now? A presidential transition

President-Elect Joe Biden smiles at a crowd while onstage in front of a large American flag.

 

With the Trump Administration on its way out of the White House, and the Biden Administration coming into a strained, but hopeful democracy, there’s a lot for us to imagine in terms of immigration in the United States for the coming 2021 year. Along with increased travel, once vaccinations have had a chance to roll through our world’s population, America will soon see a tremendous growth in immigrant numbers. Those seeking to establish roots in the States will have more opportunities to do so, in addition to litigation steadily decreasing as the country moves towards immigration-friendly leadership.

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Sessions Ends Administrative Closure at the Expense of Due Process in Immigration Court

Altering decades of practice in immigration court and placing immense pressure on an overburdened immigration court system, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision in an immigration case on Thursday declaring immigration judges do not have general authority to administratively close cases. The decision applies nationwide—though we can expect it will be challenged in the federal courts in individual cases.

Administrative closure has long been an uncontroversial management tool used by immigration judges to manage their caseload. It allows a judge to temporarily take a case off the court docket, usually to allow for completion of related proceedings that will impact the outcome of the individual’s removal proceeding. Sessions’ decision largely eliminates this vital tool. Judges now will be forced to keep long-pending cases on their active dockets, contributing to the already massive backlog of immigration cases.

In his lengthy decision, Sessions concluded that judges lack legal authority to grant administrative closure. But he pays short shrift to the legal authority that does not support his view. As amicus (friend of the court) briefs submitted in the case pointed out, the Board of Immigration Appeals repeatedly has declared that administrative closure stems from immigration judges’ inherent authority to conduct proceedings and take actions necessary to decide a case. No federal court has questioned immigration judges’ authority to grant administrative closure.

Not only is Sessions misinterpreting the law, he is creating terrible policy. The National Association of Immigration Judges urged Sessions not to end administrative closure, arguing that its termination could “overwhelm the system” and “waste precious hearing time.” A 2017 report commissioned by the immigration court system concluded morecases should be administratively closed in order to reduce the courts’ backlogs.

Others argue that ending administrative closure will harm vulnerable populations, including children and individuals of limited competency. Many of these individuals need to pause their proceedings to allow other federal and state entities to make determinations that would prevent their deportations.

Furthermore, Sessions’ move to insert himself in this case is particularly alarming given his anti-immigrant bias. As immigrant rights groups explained in the case, Sessions’ long history of anti-immigrant rhetoric prevents him from being an impartial adjudicator. The groups called for his recusal from this decision-making process.

In the decision, Sessions determined that administrative closure “encumbered the fair and efficient administration of immigration cases.” Yet, his decision will result in the very widespread unfairness and inefficiency he claims to oppose, restricting the authority of immigration judges to control their dockets and punishing immigrants who need additional time to obtain the results of other federal and state agency proceedings to qualify for immigration relief. And we should be wary of the ways he downplays the impact of this decision. He notes, for example, that judges who need to extend cases may grant “continuances” instead of administratively closing cases while simultaneously neglecting to mention that he is weighing in on another immigration case that may greatly reduce the availability of continuances.

Though Sessions ended administrative closure for future cases, regulations still permit the practice in a limited number of cases. As for the 350,000 cases currently administratively closed, those cases will gradually make their way back onto court dockets in the coming weeks and months through motions by the government.

The fact remains that this is a devastating decision for those who want to preserve due process in immigration courts. Sessions has not only restricted the authority of immigration judges, but he also has found another way to make immigrants increasingly vulnerable in a system that is already stacked against them.

This article was originally published by the American Immigration Council and written by Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. Click here for the original article.

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Your Rights Entering the United States of America

Image result for us customs airport

Whether you are at the airport or entering the United States via land or a sea port, you will encounter officers with the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) and/ or officers with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). We at Goldstein & Associates wish to outline what rights you have when you are traveling into the country.

Please note that you cannot travel out of the country and be let back in without a valid US Passport (for US Citizens), approved travel document (for those applying for an immigrant visa), or valid US Visa.

All information below is summarized from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) series, “Know Your Rights.” The original article can be found at: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/what-do-when-encountering-law-enforcement-airports-and-other-ports-entry-us.

TSA and CBP officers have the right to search all people and property when entering the country. Questioning and fingerprinting (for non-US Citizens) is routine, and it is advisable to cooperate with basic inquiries. If you are selected for additional questioning, you have rights. If you are a US Citizen, you have a right to an attorney. If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident or visitor, your rights to an attorney are limited to certain circumstances, and you may be refused legal counsel by the officers. However, if you are under arrest, you always have the right to an attorney, regardless of country of citizenship.

In some cases, TSA or CBP officers may ask you to unlock your personal electronic devices. You are not required to do so. However, failure to cooperate with these requests may cause the officer to deny you entry into the United States. If your electronic devices are confiscated, you should write the name of the officer down, and get a receipt for the item(s) taken.

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Your Rights if you get Stopped by Law Enforcement Officers

Police car

If you are a recent immigrant, you may be feeling anxious about possible encounters with law enforcement officials or officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We at Goldstein & Associates wish to outline what to do if you are stopped by the police or ICE Agents in your car or on the street, as well as what rights you have.

All information below is summarized from an article from the American Civil Liberties Union. See the original article at: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/stops-and-arrests-what-do-when-encountering-law-enforcement?redirect=know-your-rights/when-encountering-law-enforcement-stops-and-arrests.

If an Officer Stops You

If an officer stops you and asks you questions, and you have legal immigration status, then comply with their requests. You are required to carry your immigration documents with you, such as your green card, Employment Authorization Card (EAD), documentation of nonimmigrant status (such as a work or student visa), or border crossing card. Failure to produce these documents can result in your arrest. If you are in the process of procuring one of these documents, but your application is pending with USCIS, then show the officer the receipt notices from your case.

If you do not have legal immigration status, or if your pending application has not been issued receipt notices yet, then ask if you are free to go. If they answer yes, then calmly walk away. Never run. Sometimes, officers may state that you are not under arrest, but you are not free to leave. In this case, you are being detained (but not arrested). They may pat you down and ask for your name. If they ask any further questions, you do not have to answer.

If an Officer Stops you in your Car

Remain calm and pull over immediately, roll down the window and keep your hands visible at all times. You must show your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. You do not have to answer any of the officer’s questions, unless they inquire about your valid immigration status, and you do not have to let the officer search your car. However, if they have a reason to believe that you have committed a crime, they may search your car anyway.

If you are Arrested

You have the right to remain silent. Do not disclose any information other than your name. You have the right to speak with an Attorney. When you make phone calls from prison, officers may listen to calls you make to friends and family, but not to attorneys.

If you are concerned about how this may affect you or your family, or if you have any other immigration needs, feel free to contact us online or call our office at 412-254-8700.

Immigrant Rights and Law Enforcement

ice-agents-make-arrest-Getty

If you are a recent immigrant, you may be feeling anxious about possible encounters with law enforcement officials or agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We at Goldstein & Associates wish to outline what to do if ICE agents come to your house, as well as what rights you have.

Your Rights if ICE Agents are at Your Door

All information below is a repost of an original article from the American Civil Liberties Union. See the original article at: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/what-do-if-immigration-agents-ice-are-your-door.

1. If officers are at your door, keep the door closed and ask if they are Immigration agents, or from ICE. Ask the agents what they are there for. Opening the door does not give the agents permission to come inside, but it is safer to speak to ICE through the door. If the agents don’t speak your language, ask for an interpreter.

2. If the agents want to enter, ask them if they have a warrant signed by a judge. If ICE agents do not have a warrant signed by a Judge, you may refuse to open the door or let them in. An administrative warrant of removal from immigration authorities is not enough. If they say they have a warrant, ask them to slip the warrant under the door. Look at the top and at the signature line to see if it was issued by a court and signed by a judge. Only a court/judge warrant is enough for entry into your premises. One issued by DHS or ICE and signed by a DHS or ICE employee is not.
a. An example of an order by a judge: https://www.aclu.org/files/kyr/kyr_abra-la-puerta.pdf
b. An example of an order by ICE: https://www.aclu.org/files/kyr/kyr_no-abra-la-puerta.pdf

3. Do not open your door unless ICE shows you a judicial search or arrest warrant naming a person in your residence and/or areas to be searched at your address. In all other cases, keep the door closed. State: “I do not consent to your entry.”

4. If agents force their way in anyway, do not attempt to resist. If you wish to exercise your rights, state: “I do not consent to your entry or to your search of these premises. I am exercising my right to remain silent. I wish to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.” Everyone in the residence may also exercise the right to remain silent.

5. Do not lie or show false documents. Do not sign any papers without speaking to a lawyer.

If you are concerned about how this may affect you or your family, or if you have any other immigration needs, feel free to contact us online or call our office at 412-258-8080.

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Welcoming Veronica Cruz Salazar, LL.M to our firm!

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Goldstein & Associates is excited to launch our new blog series about the immigration heritage of our staff. We would like to welcome our newest attorney, Veronica Cruz Salazar, to the team.

Veronica is from Venezuela where she pursued studies in tax law from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas and from Universidad de Salamanca in Spain. Her legal experience includes work for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Caritas de Venezuela, and later as a senior associate and law department manager for the legal department at Taxand Venezuela in Caracas.

Veronica originally came to the United States to study English but as the conditions in Venezuela got worse, her family agreed that it would be best if she stayed in the U.S. Veronica decided to pursue an LL.M because it would allow for her to find many opportunities in America.
During her studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law pursuing her LL.M, Veronica found a job posting for Goldstein & Associates and her experience working with refugees gave her the courage to apply for our immigration practice. After a series of interviews, we found her to be a great fit.

Veronica feels that she has learned a lot from her time thus far at Goldstein & Associates. Each case is different and she is aware of the “human factor” of each individual involved in the case. Veronica knows what it is like to encounter new people and move to a new place, “I was an immigrant; I understand.” She knows how it feels to be full of uncertainty and not sure if you will find the right friends. Veronica attributes much of her success as an immigrant to surrounding herself with the right people who helped her, supported her, and allowed her to find opportunities to succeed.

Veronica feels extremely lucky to have found the right people and agrees that finding the right attorney who provides the same comfort and support is important. If you are interested in speaking with Veronica, do not hesitate to contact us online or call at 412-258-8080

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How Central Americans are Affected by Obama’s Immigration Raids

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In May, the Obama administration announced the beginning of a series of immigration raids of Central American migrants to be carried out by ICE officers. Since the raids began, there have been 40 cases reported of women and children being mistreated by ICE officers. The arrests largely to place in homes, schools, and workplaces; some arrests included aggressive and inappropriate conduct according to CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project. Of these cases, more than half have valid asylum claims that have not yet been heard in immigration court and some didn’t even have deportation orders. It is clear that the Obama Administration is approaching this influx of Central American refugees as an illegal immigration problem rather than a humanitarian crisis.

It has been reported that gang-related violence, drug trafficking, and corrupt criminal justice systems have plagued Central American countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. As a result, families have fled from these countries to seek asylum in the U.S. despite women and children being the least mobile group-they don’t leave unless there is no other choice. While these migrants may have valid asylum claims, it has become clear that these immigrants have not had the chance to be heard in court. In fact, many did not have legal counsel or even receive a notice to appear in court.

Immigrants in removal proceedings are afforded all appropriate due process under the law. The number of migrants who are being denied this right in our nation’s immigration courts is growing rapidly. The Obama Administration’s response to this surge in Central American migrants is inappropriate and devastating to the immigrant community while ignoring basic humanitarian decency.

Goldstein & Associates urges anyone who is unsure of their status to contact us immediately online or via phone at 412-258-8080.

Trump Proposes “Fortress America” Following Orlando Shootings

os-donald-trump-attacks-his-opponents-and-addresses-protesters-at-a-packed-cfe-arena-20160305Donald Trump has put a new twist on his immigration policy following the mass shooting at a Florida nightclub by the American-born son of Afghan immigrants. If elected, Trump promised, he would halt immigration from any area of the world with a “proven history of terrorism” against America or our allies. He also accused the Muslim community of broad involvement in these types of attacks.

While a ban on immigrants from certain countries has been done before and has some legal standing, Trump’s proposed religious-based ban poses serious Constitutional concerns. No previous U.S. president has proposed a religious ban on immigrants and Trump’s proposal demonstrates his poor understanding of the Constitution and the founding principles of our nation.

Trump has used the Orlando massacre as evidence of Islamic threat to America and as reason to suggest a temporary prohibition on Muslim immigrants. Because of the vagueness of his announcement, it is hard to discern how broadly Trump would extend an immigration ban on any other country or religious groups.

Goldstein & Associates urges anyone who may be concerned about their status to contact us online or call us at 412-258-8080 to discuss options before it is too late.

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