Employers in California and around the country are finding it increasingly difficult to hire highly skilled foreign workers through the H-1B visa program. The program was put into place to ensure that American companies are able to fill positions that require specialized skills or knowledge when suitably qualified candidates cannot be found locally. In 2015, only 6% of H-1B visa applications were denied. That figure has since grown to 24% according to the National Foundation for American Policy.
A Trump administration immigration policy change that troubled many people in California has been blocked by a federal judge. The national injunction stopped the administration's attempts to redefine "public charge," the term used to describe immigrants who may be denied permanent residence out of a belief that they might be dependent on government support. The changed rule was scheduled to go into effect in mid-October 2019, and experts say that around 500,000 documented immigrants legally present in the country could have been affected by the change. It would have affected people applying to become green card holders, legal permanent residents in the country.
The Trump administration has issued more changes to regulations dealing with immigration and citizenship, raising concerns among many in California. These concerns have been intensified because the changes relate primarily to the kids of members of the U.S. military or government workers serving overseas. In the past, children born to these individuals would automatically acquire citizenship. Their time with their parents, while physically outside the country, was considered U.S. residency for citizenship purposes. Under the new rule, announced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), these children's citizenship would no longer be automatic. Their parents would have to engage in additional procedures to secure citizenship for their children.
The Trump administration won a minor legal victory on Aug. 16 when a federal appeals court ruled that a previously issued nationwide injunction should only apply to California and Arizona. The injunction was granted in July by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to prevent the implementation of a controversial immigration policy that would require immigrants hoping to be granted asylum in the United States to make their petitions in the first safe country they entered.
Many people in California are deeply concerned about changes to immigration law proposed by the Trump administration. According to reports, the administration has drafted a 620-page immigration reform bill and secured 10 Republican senators to introduce the legislation.
California participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could benefit from legislation passed in the House of Representatives, but the Senate is unlikely to approve it. The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 received votes from all 230 Democrats and seven Republicans.
California residents may have the right to work for companies that produce or sell marijuana products. However, if those individuals are not currently citizens, working in the legal marijuana industry could complicate the process of becoming a naturalized citizen. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS), those who are involved with marijuana may be considered to lack good moral character. This is because marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law.
Economic activity on both sides of the border between California and Mexico could suffer costly disruptions if President Trump goes forward with threats to close the border. In the eyes of business leaders, the president's concerns about illegal immigration would not warrant closing the country's southern border. The nation's largest business lobbying group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, reached out to the White House to express its concerns about the economic cost of a border closure.
Whenever an American employer in California wants to hire a foreign worker with a higher education degree, they must file for an H-1B visa application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Accordingly, USCIS will discern whether the potential employee meets certain credentials before putting them in a lottery. Only 65,000 H-1B visas in total are issued in this lottery. Additionally, USCIS issues an extra 20,000 visas for employees with a U.S. master's degree. The spouses and children of H-1B workers can also come to the U.S. if they apply for H-4 status.
Employers in California and around the country often turn to the H-1B visa program when they need workers who possess specialized skills and Americans with the required qualifications cannot be found. Each year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issues 65,000 H-1B visas to individuals possessing a bachelor's degree or higher and specialized knowledge or skills and a further 20,000 visas to individuals who have graduated from a U.S. university with an advanced degree. However, the agency generally stops accepting petitions just days after the H-1B filing season begins.