This is the first in a series of articles looking at immigration policy and law in 2019, and what to expect in 2020. To stay up to date on immigration news in the United States, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
2019 was a tumultuous year for immigration, and we expect 2020 to be no different. As the 2020 election approaches, immigration – even for highly skilled, sought after professionals – is likely to be a hot button issue.
While it might seem like an inopportune environment to pursue the next step of immigration, NOW is the time for the action, especially for employers hoping to sponsor foreign nationals for permanent resident status, and individuals with a green card who would like to become naturalized U.S. citizens.
Green Card Holders: Why You Should Start Naturalization Process Today
The symbolic importance of naturalization is profound – for many, it is the final step in a long and storied process, and the culmination of hopes and dreams. For very practical purposes, obtaining U.S. citizenship provides a host of protections that are seemingly critical in today’s immigration landscape. Perhaps most importantly, U.S. citizenship can only be revoked under extenuating circumstances, such as obtaining citizenship through fraud. Permanent resident status can be denied based on a number of reasons – extended travel outside of the United States or a small criminal conviction.
A U.S. permanent resident can apply for naturalization 90 calendar days before completing their permanent residence requirement, which is three years for spouses of U.S. citizens and five years for other green card holders. USCIS provides a calculator to determine when you can file a naturalization petition here.
FordMurray offers flat-fee counsel on naturalization petitions across the United States, including petition preparation and in-depth preparation for interviews.
Employers: Benefits of PERM Process
Our top recommendation for employers going into 2020 is to identify employees for sponsorship to permanent resident status and begin the Program Electric Review Management (PERM) process as soon as possible.
We have learned a critical lesson during the last two years – there is no such thing as a “given” in immigration law under the Trump Administration. What were once routine H-1B extensions have been met with RFEs and outright denials. Engaging your valued foreign national team members in the green card process will give them peace of mind and guarantee continuity in their employment at your organization.
Employer sponsorship through the PERM process is most likely the best immigration pathway for employees on H-1B and L Visas. During the process, you will be required to show there is insufficient talent in your area to meet the hiring needs of your organization. From start to finish, the sponsorship process takes between 12 months and a year.
If you are unsure, or have questions about the PERM process, we offer free consultations to help walk you through the process.
Other Recommendations: Self Petition Green Cards and Family Sponsorship
Foreign nationals who could qualify for an EB-1 or NIW self-petition green card should learn about the petition process and how to build a strong case. While self-petition green cards have not seen the same level of attention as other immigrant visa categories, we have seen increased scrutiny of petitions. Additionally, constant shifts in priority dates and processing times have made the petition process hard to predict. If you have a strong case and are ready to proceed with a self-petition green card, you should file your petition ahead of the U.S. election season. We offer complimentary consultations on EB-1 and NIW cases and will give you an honest assessment of your chance for a self-petition green card.
Similarly, if you are a U.S. citizen or green card holder and would like to sponsor a spouse or family member, applications should be filed as quickly as possible. To learn more about who qualifies for family sponsorship, click here.
Federal law creates specific pathways for immigrants and nonimmigrants to live, work and settle down in the United States. Even with stricter enforcement and harsh rhetoric, it is important to note that immigration to the United States is viable and written into the laws of our country. This is not the time to go it alone – experience immigration counsel is your best chance at a successful outcome.