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No more work visas for 2014

Massachusetts residents who are waiting for a friend or relative to be issued an H-1B work visa may be waiting a bit longer. The U.S. Department of Customs and Immigration Services announced on April 7 that it possessed enough applications to meet its 2014 quota. Each year, the government issues 65,000 H-1B visas which allow employers to temporarily hire workers in certain specialty fields. Approximately 20,000 more visas are granted to workers that have master's or doctorate degrees.

April 7 marked the deadline for companies to submit applications to sponsor employees for work visas. Next, the federal agency will hold a lottery to choose which applications will be reviewed. Some employers expressed a wish that more H-1B visas would be issued so they could find highly skilled workers. As the economy improves, some companies stated that they are unable to meet their hiring needs.

Ethiopian man freed after facing deportation

On March 31 in Massachusetts, U.S. immigration authorities freed a 19-year-old gay Ethiopian man with no bail who had been detained since January after he lost his student visa due to poor grades. He had been scheduled to be deported to Ethiopia, where he could have faced prison time for homosexual involvement. It wasn't clear if immigration authorities were aware of his sexual preference, but he had disclosed it in social media outlets and to some of his friends. His uncle reported that the confession could jeopardize his safety in the other nation.

Homosexuals in that country can be abused and imprisoned for their behavior. A gay politician and confidant of the teen expressed his relief that the man had been freed. The politician now hopes that the man can be granted asylum. People facing deportation are not entitled to retain a public defender, and the man's supporters said that during his initial hearings he had not retained an attorney or requested asylum. It was unclear if those failures were due to language-related issues, but the court authorized a mental health review of the immigrant due to the communication challenges he faced.

Mexican woman speaks about the plight of immigrants in U.S.

Residents of Massachusetts who are interested in immigration issues are taking note of a Mexican immigrant who has been speaking out on behalf of those seeking asylum in the United States. An event which is held at an Amherst, New York college annually recently provided a platform for Latin American immigrants to share their experiences.

One of the featured speakers at Daemen College's 33rd Annual Father A. Joseph Bissonnette Latin America Event was a woman who immigrated to the United States from Mexico and currently lives in Texas. She said in an interview that although most Americans believe that the only reason people immigrate from Latin America to the United States is to improve their economic circumstances, they may not be aware of the large number of immigrants who flee their home countries to escape violence.

Woman claiming persecution seeks asylum in U.S.

Massachusetts residents who have emigrated to the U.S. for business or personal reasons may be interested in the story of one Mexican national hoping to do the same. She is seeking asylum from persecution and threats at home.

In August 2007, the woman who had taken refuge in a Chicago church for a year was deported from the country and was thus separated from her young son who had been born in the U.S. Upon her return to Mexico, she established a home to house other migrants who were deported from America. She has been an outspoken opponent of the treatment of migrant families and their deportation.

Investment visas not tailored to every situation

An investor immigrant visa, also known as an EB 5, generally allows any foreigner who invests $500,000 and creates 10 jobs to receive a green card. The program has expanded rapidly since it was created in 1990, and despite the popularity of the visa, it has critics who feel that it has uneven rules and too much red tape that may sometimes cause an otherwise good business to fail. Others see it as a way for the wealthy to buy their way in to the country.

One 40-year-old man from England is facing the former issue. He received a temporary green card, but it may be in jeopardy because he currently only employs two people. He has a hearing scheduled in March 2015, and if he has not hired eight new employees, he could potentially be told to leave the country. The two people whom he does employ are a marketing chief and an accountant. He may hire eight people to satisfy the requirement, but it could be too much of a burden as his flavored peanut business has not developed enough to turn a profit.

Reinterpretation makes citizenship simpler for some

Massachusetts residents might be interested in a recent development in U.S. immigration law that could make it easier for some to assert citizenship. A provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act is now subject to a new interpretation that could make citizens of the children of Americans, even if those children were conceived using donor eggs and sperm and born outside the U.S.

The previous interpretation of the law had caused problems for American parents who made use of assisted reproductive technology to have a child if it was born on foreign soil. For example, a woman who conceives with a donor egg may not have the biological link to the child that had previously been necessary to establish citizenship for the child. The law was originally designed to prevent fraud in the immigration process, according to an immigration attorney and advocate of the change, but until now it has failed to take into account the rapid advancements in reproductive medicine.

Government shutdown affects immigration hearings

An estimated 37,000 immigration cases have been delayed until later in 2014 or pushed into 2015 due to the government shutdown in October of 2013. However, the cases that have been delayed have involved those who are not currently being held in detention centers while awaiting their hearings.

For those who face an almost certain deportation back to their home country, the delay wins them more time to stay in the country. Those who are likely to win their cases and gain legal status in the United States have to wait even longer before they are able to claim residency. The delays are also making it difficult for asylum seekers who are trying to bring their families to the country from areas that may be dangerous.

New immigration form to take effect May 5

In a move that will affect applicants in Massachusetts and across the nation who are attempting to obtain permanent residency, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service is changing one of the forms that they need to fill out to become naturalized. The new form is the final step before a person becomes a U.S. citizen and will include more specific questions related to naturalization candidacy. The paperwork will be easier to complete but will take longer and could mean delays for applicants who are seeking citizenship.

While the paperwork is changing, the requirements are not. Total fees will be $680 for the N-400 application. Either form can be used during a 90-day transition period, which began Feb. 5, but the process of changing to the new forms will be completed by May 5.

Mayors ask for immigration reform to include citizenship

A group of 15 mayors from across the United States sent a two page letter to a number of lawmakers in Washington. it urged them to allow undocumented immigrants to be allowed an eventual path to citizenship. Mayors from some of the largest cities in the country, including Boston, Massachusetts, were signatories.

The mayors are urging that a path to citizenship is necessary because they feel that current laws compromise employers, immigrants and national security. The letter also said that the undocumented immigrants should have to wait behind those who are already in line for a green card. They also favor background checks and payment of back taxes. One of the major roadblocks is Republican objections to anything in a potential law that grants amnesty to undocumented immigrants. House Speaker John Boehner tapped down talk of reform, saying it would be too difficult to accomplish given the GOP's distrust of the Obama administration.

Questions about terrorism added to U.S. citizenship application

Massachusetts residents who follow news about immigration law in the U.S. might be interested to hear about an upcoming change to the citizenship process. The form that immigrants must fill out to apply for U.S. citizenship is scheduled to change at the beginning of May, according to federal immigration officials. The new form will be longer and include new questions that ask applicants about any ties that they have to terrorist groups, militias, genocide, prisons and military training.

The change will make the form, which is currently 10 pages long, a total of 21 pages long. Part of the reason for the change, immigration officials say, is to make the form more efficient and easier to process. Part of the 11-page increase is due to thick bar codes on every page. The new form is also necessitated by laws that are designed to combat terrorism and children being used as soldiers.

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