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California Court of Appeal upholds 'sanctuary state' law

SB 54, also known as the "California Values Act" or the "sanctuary state" law, was passed in an effort to promote public safety and effective policing and to protect people's constitutional rights. It was signed into law in 2017.

The major part of the law bans local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration agents. It also creates "safe zones" for immigrants around schools, hospitals and courts, meaning that no immigration actions can be taken against people as they are accessing these services.

Why can a US visa application be denied? Can I overcome a denial?

Has your application for a U.S. visa been denied? There are several reasons this might happen.

To qualify for a visa, you must be eligible to enter the United States and meet all the requirements of the visa you apply for. Whether you meet the visa's requirements depends on the evidence you submit to the embassy or consulate, along with an interview with a consular officer.

New 'public charge' rule moves forward, but it is still on hold

In August, the Trump administration issued a new rule about which immigrants should be considered "public charges," or dependent on public benefits. Immigrants deemed to be public charges are not eligible for further visas or green cards.

Yet, when legal immigrants are hard-hit financially, they can be eligible for public assistance programs including welfare, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and public housing.

Even if your DACA renewal is not due, consider renewing now

If you are currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, you know there has been litigation about whether the program will continue. The current administration has attempted to cancel the program and leave it to Congress to address the issue.

However, several federal courts have ruled that the effort to unilaterally shut down the program was unlawful. Those courts have ordered the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to continue processing DACA renewals but not to allow new people into the program. The USCIS is, therefore, still processing DACA renewals, and you should consider renewing right away.

Statistics reveal surprising shift in H-1B visa approvals

People navigating the immigration system in the U.S. are often told that as long as they do what they are supposed to do, their status in the country will not be an issue. However, as far too many immigrants know, this is not always the case.

This is especially true in the current political climate, as immigration laws and standards seem to change every week. What used to be a somewhat predictable system is now rife with complications and unwelcome surprises. Currently, H-1B visa holders are among those who are struggling with some unexpected barriers.

Act now: USCIS processing fees slated to go up next year

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a proposal to raise the application fees for citizenship, lawful permanent residency (green card status) and many other services. The proposal is now in a public comment period until Dec. 16, after which the agency must consider the comments.

After that, however, the fees will almost certainly go up for citizenship, green cards, DACA renewals, asylum, Temporary Protected Status and other services.

Supreme Court to decide legality of DACA program

In 2012, President Barack Obama implemented a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The program gave protection from deportation and work authorization to a particular group of immigrants: those who had been brought here as without authorization as children within a specific period.

Beneficiaries of the program, called "Dreamers," were allowed to come from the shadows and participate in American life.

Travel ban keeps neuroscientists from attending US conference

The Trump administration's travel ban against passport holders from seven countries is causing problems for some travelers to the U.S. Most recently, it prevented invited speakers from attending this year's Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.

Dr. Sepiedeh Keshavarzi told NPR that it was once her dream to do research in the United States. She was one of the speakers due to address approximately 25,000 brain scientists at the meeting, but she was denied a visa. She was also denied one last year.

Why should you become a US citizen? For one thing, you could vote

Many people who want to live and work in the U.S. permanently are perfectly happy with their status as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). There may be good reasons for this but, before you decide, you should be aware that there are significant advantages to becoming a citizen.

The United States is actively welcoming new citizens. Over the last decade, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) brought over 7.2 million people into citizenship through naturalization. Last year alone, 756,000 people were naturalized.

Federal judge rejects new interpretation of 'public charge'

This summer, the Trump administration issued a controversial new rule that would have imposed new financial standards on immigrants who are seeking lawful permanent residency (green cards). The rule reinterprets a policy against immigrants who are likely to become a "public charge" which has been in place for over 100 years.

Under the new rule, when immigrants applied for green cards, several economic factors would be held against them. For example, earning less than 125% of the federal poverty level would weigh against an immigrant's green card application. Other factors include:

  • Having substantial debt
  • Not speaking English
  • Having a disability
  • Accepting public assistance in the form of food stamps, Medicaid or housing assistance (even though it is perfectly legal to do so)

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