United States Immigration & Citizenship Policies

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1 2014 United States Immigration & Citizenship Policies ON. MARCO FEDI Last Updated October 2014 [ Picture Courtesy of Capitol Visa USA

2 Table of Contents 1- WHICH DEPARTMENT IS CURRENTLY IN CHARGE OF IMMIGATION & CITIZENSHIP IN AMERICA? WHO CURRENTLY HEADS THE DEPARTMENT? WHAT IS THE CURRENT LAW GOVERNING MIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP? HOW LARGE IS THE USICS AND WHAT ARE ITS KEY OBJECTIVES? HOW DOES THE NATIONAL/STATE GOVERNMENTS AND PRIVATE SECTOR STRUCTURE SERVICE OFFERINGS FOR MIGRANTS TO THE UNITED STATES? WHAT IS THE POSITION OF THE GOVERNMENT IN RELATION TO IMMIGRATION? BREIF HISTORY OF IMMIGRTION TO THE UNITED STATES. HOW MANY IMMIGRANTS HAS THE UNITED STATES TAKEN IN? WHAT IS THE UNITED STATES CURRENT MIGRATION POLICY? WHAT IS THE UNITED STATES CURRENT POSITION IN RELATION TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS? THE INTEGRATION PROCESS: PATH TOWARDS CITIZENSHIP WHAT ABOUT DUAL CITIZENSHIP?...14 APPENDIX: Historical changes to America s citizenship and migration laws 15 1.

3 1. WHICH DEPARTMENT IS CURRENTLY IN CHARGE OF IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP? As of 2003, the department in charge of immigration and citizenship is called United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. 1 USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security in the United States. It was formerly called Immigration and Naturalization Services under the Department of Justice, however after the attacks on September 11, 2001, it was moved and renamed. 2. WHO CURRENTLY HEADS THE DEPARTMENT? The Head Director of USCIS is Leon Rodriguez, who was sworn in on July 9, 2014 (pictured right). The Deputy Director is Lori Scialabba as well as the Chief of Staff Juliet K. Choi and Ur Mendoza Jaddou Chief Counsel. The Department also has a series of Associate Directors in charge of various segments WHAT IS THE CURRENT LAW GOVERNING IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP? The Immigration and Nationality Act, hereafter INA, was created in 1952 and despite its amendments, it still functions as the basic body of immigration law. The INA is divided into titles, chapters, and sections. Although it stands alone as a body of law in its own right, INA is also contained in the United States Code (U.S.C.); a codified collection of all the laws of the 1 USCIS, Our History, < 2 USCIS, Leadership,< 2.

4 United States. It is arranged in fifty subject titles by general alphabetic order. For instance, Title 8 of the U.S. Code is but one of the fifty titles that deal with "Aliens and Nationality" HOW LARGE IS THE USCIS AND WHAT ARE ITS KEY OBJECTIVES? USCIS has 19,000 government employees working in over 223 offices across the globe. The Mission Statement of the USCIS is as follows: USCIS will secure America s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system. 4 USCIS strategic goals include: a. Strengthening the security and integrity of the immigration system. b. Providing effective customer-oriented immigration benefit and information. c. Supporting immigrants integration and participation in American civic culture. d. Promoting flexible and sound immigration policies and programs. e. Strengthening the infrastructure supporting the USCIS mission. f. Operating as a high-performance organization that promotes a highly talented workforce and a dynamic work culture. USCIS also maintains the core values of integrity, respect, ingenuity, and vigilance by working to provide a better future for those entering the country. 3 USCIS, Immigration and Nationality Act, < 4 USCIS, ABOUT, < 3.

5 5. HOW DOES THE NATIONAL/STATE GOVERNMENTS AND PRIVATE SECTOR STRUCTURE SERVICE OFFERINGS FOR MIGRANTS TO THE UNITED STATES? There are many programs offered to migrants through both the government and private sector. The following programs by no means an exhaustive list, but aims to highlight the key programs offered when first entering the country. a. Government offerings: i. Learn English Online: U.S.A. Learns, from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), offers free courses for immigrants to learn English and improve basic reading, writing, speaking, and life skills. See: ii. Resources for New Immigrants: Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) publication that has information to help immigrants settle into everyday life in the United States. This booklet is available in 14 languages. Also, found in the book is the What do I do? segment that guides the process of immigration. See: 4.

6 iii. US Department of Labor helps connect migrants with local officials in the area of choice to aid in finding a job. See: iv. US Department of Housing will aid potential migrants search to find affordable housing in the area of choice. See: phprog b. Non Profit: i. Immigration Advocates is a program that finds lawyers, in the area of the migrants choice to represent and aid in the process of integration for a low cost. You can find more information on their website. See: ii. The Immigration Center for Women and Children is specifically designed for women and children integrating into the United States. This program provides legal advice, support, and representation while also aiding in the process of finding homes and jobs for the women entering. See: iii. Nationalities Service Center can be found throughout the country, not only providing legal advice, but also community involvement. For example, offering community events, English 5.

7 lessons, and other education that allow migrants to immerse themselves with the locals who volunteer at the Center. See: 6. WHAT IS THE POSITION OF THE GOVERNMENT IN RELATION TO IMMIGRATION? The current President of the United States, Barack Obama, is an advocate of immigration reform. Obama, as part of his campaign, pursued immigration reform that tightened America s borders to stop illegal immigration to the United States. Overwhelming, Obama believes that immigration should be timely, efficient, and simple 5. The President opens the doors of immigration to those who are seeking entrepreneurial opportunities, reuniting with family, or furthering their education. Obama is pro-immigration because he believes it will create more jobs, opportunities, diversity, and overall a better way standard of living to the middle class. Although numerous counties employ the policy of multiculturalism when it comes to dealing with migrants, the United States, has no set policy for multiculturalism. The United States is referred to as a melting pot due to its high immigration and diversity since its beginnings and therefore isn t considered multicultural, but merely a diverse society. American schools have started programs where students can learn about other cultures and societies from fellow classmates as a way to assimilate the other cultures with those of America. 6 5 The White House, Immigration and the Economy, < 6 Wikipedia, Multiculturalism, < 6.

8 7. BRIEF HISTORY OF IMMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES. HOW MANY IMMIGRANTS HAS THE US TAKEN IN? Migration Policy Frequently Asked Questions See: Since the early 1800s, the United States saw an increase in immigration. The first count of immigration population was taken in 1950 showing 2.2 million immigrants. 7 Levels would rise from here until the Great Depression and World War II, whereby restrictive immigration legislation led to the amount of immigrants to fall. However, after the recovery of the economy, immigrants have been increasing at a rapid pace; many of those whom are from bordering 7 Migration Policy Frequently Asked Questions, < 7.

9 countries such as Mexico and further south such as Latin America. Since 2000, nearly over 40.8 million people have immigrated to the US. 8. WHAT IS THE UNITED STATES CURRENT MIGRATION POLICY? According to the INA, the government allows an annual limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants into the United States. Immigration is based upon the following categories: reunification of families, admitting immigrants with skills that are valuable to the US economy, protecting refuges, and promoting diversity. 8 I.Family-Based Immigration: The Family-Based category allows U.S citizens and lawful permanent residents to bring family members to the United States. Family members include spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried minor children, and parents of U.S. citizens. The President and Congress determine there are 480,000 visas available under this category. II. Employment-Based Immigration The Employment-Based Immigration category can be broken down into two subcategories the first being Temporary Visas and the second, Permanent Immigration. 1. Temporary Visas Temporary Visas are available for skilled workers seeking opportunities in the United States. There are over 20 types including: L visas for intercompany transfers, P for athletes, entertainers, and performers, R for religious workers, A for diplomatic workers, O for workers of 8 Immigration Policy, Resource Page, < 8.

10 extraordinary ability, and H for both higher and lesser skilled workers. It is important to note that temporary visas have limitations to them. 2. Permanent Immigration Permanent employment-based immigration is set at a rate of 140,000 visas per year, and these are divided into 5 preferences; each subject to numerical limitations. Below is a table summarizing the employment-based preference system 9 : Permanent Employment-Based Preference System Preference Category Eligibility Yearly Numerical Limit Persons of extraordinary ability in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers, some multinational executives. Members of the professions holding advanced degrees, or persons of exceptional abilities in the arts, science, or business Skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience, professionals with college degrees, or other workers for unskilled labor that is not temporary or seasonal. 40,000 40,000 40,000 4 Certain special immigrants including religious workers, 9 Immigration Policy, Permanent Residence, < 9.

11 employees of U.S. foreign service, former U.S. government employees and other classes of aliens. 5 Persons who will invest $500,000 to $1 million in a job-creating enterprise that employs at least 10 full time U.S. workers. 10,000 10,000 III. The Diversity Visa Program The Diversity Visa lottery was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 as method for encouraging immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. This means each year 55,000 visas are sent to countries that have sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the past five years. To be eligible one must have a high-school education (or its equivalent) or have a minimum of two years working in a profession requiring at least two years of training or experience. A computer-generated random lottery drawing chooses selectees for diversity visas. 10 IV. Humanitarian Relief Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is granted to people who are in the United States but cannot return to their home country because of natural disaster, extraordinary temporary conditions, or ongoing armed conflict. TPS is granted to a country for six, 12, or 18 months and can be extended beyond that if unsafe conditions in the country persist. There is a 70,000 cap on citizens entering under Humanitarian Relief. The breakdown is as follows: 10 Immigration Policy, Resourcesì, < 10.

12 Africa 12,000 East Asia 17,000 Europe and Central Asia 2,000 Latin America & 5,000 Caribbean Near East & South Asia 31,000 Unallocated Reserve 3,000 Total 70, WHAT IS THE UNITED STATES CURRENT POSITION IN RELATION TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS? For this paper, illegal immigrant refers to unlawful non-citizens from another country that remain in the United States without the legal approval of the government. President Obama has taken a strong stance on the issue of illegal immigration during his term. 11 He has initiated Immigration Reform that increases border patrol to stop illegal immigrants from crossing the borders. Illegal immigration stifles the United States economy causing illicit workers, unclaimed taxes, and deficits. The consequences of being an illegal immigrant is immediate deportation back to the original country the immigrant resided in. Currently in American news, large 11 The White House, Immigration and Economy, < 11.

13 amounts of children are entering the US illegally from countries like El Salvador and Guatemala. The United States according to its own policy, cannot deport children, but has to place them with host families for the time being of their hearing. This has generated great controversy in the United States. 10. THE INTEGRATION PROCESS: PATH TOWARD CITIZENSHIP In order for an immigrant to qualify for a U.S. citizenship through naturalization there are certain requirements that must be met. One must have a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status (a green card) for at least 5 years (or 3 years if he or she obtained the green card through a U.S.- citizen spouse or through the Violence Against Women Act, VAWA). Applicants for U.S. citizenship must be at least 18 years old, demonstrate continuous residency, demonstrate good moral character, pass English and U.S. history and civics exams, and pay an application fee, among other requirements. The forms and process vary depending on your type of immigration profile. The citizenship process discussed in detail, can be found on the following link: Travel State, Immigrant Process, 12.

14 Represented diagraphically: Petition After your Petition is Approved Collect and Submit Forms and Documents to the NVC Interview 13.

15 11..WHAT ABOUT DUAL CITIZENSHIP? The United States allows and recognizes the state of dual citizenships. For more information see the following link: 14.

16 APPENDIX: HISTORICAL CHANGES TO THE UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW The issue of immigration law comes to the attention of the President and Congress creating the first immigration law. This law set a series of rules for ships leaving US ports and set constant reporting of immigrants Congress declared centralized control over immigration under Secretary of State The Bureau of Immigration was established under Treasury with the intention of controlling all the aspects and impacts of immigration The Bureau of Immigration made it a requirement to know English in order to become a citizen The Bureau of Immigration was to record annual quotas according to the nationality of immigrants A law was amended that allowed immigrants that were wives, husbands, and children of the U.S. Armed Forces to attain citizenship A law was added that allowed immigrants escaping persecution such as natural disasters, political, and religious turmoil A law was announced that all aliens must report their address annually to the Bureau in order to legitimize citizenship. 13 Wikipedia, Immigration Law and History < s.> 15.

17 1952-The Immigration and Nationality Act 1986-Immigration Reform and Control Act was implemented curtailed the amount of illegal workers in the U.S After the attacks on the U.S. on September 11 th Congress and the President created the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which tightened controls over the immigration process. 16.

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