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.
Many people in California involved with the immigration system may worry every time a new tweet from President Donald Trump appears on his Twitter account. The president has announced significant policy plans regarding changes to immigration law through this decidedly unofficial channel, so the coming repercussions might be serious. On Jan. 11, 2019, another Trump tweet came as a surprise, as he announced that "changes are coming soon" for people with H-1B professional work visas. Since Trump took office, many visa holders have experienced issues, including limited approval times and lengthy delays.
Immigrant youth in California and across the country are facing serious concerns when attempting to regularize their statuses. Since 1990, the U.S. government has allowed immigrant youth who were abused or abandoned by their parents to seek a green card with the assistance of a court-appointed guardian, allowing them to stay in the country. Under the law, people seeking to access the protections provided by this program must apply before their 21st birthday. However, the Trump administration has begun to claim that some applicants are too old to access the program after the age of 18.
California residents have likely been paying close attention to events taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border. Several thousand migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua have gathered in Tijuana and say that they plan to apply for asylum in the United States, but their attempts to cross the border illegally have largely been thwarted and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Dec. 20 that new rules had been put into place to deter fraudulent asylum claims.
A national poll conducted in November 2018 indicates that a growing number of Americans see immigration as the most important problem facing the country. People in California who are pursuing residency or citizenship may be affected by policy changes related to changing national perceptions. In October 2018, 13 percent of Americans said immigration was the top problem in the country. By the time of the November poll, that number increased to 21 percent.
Much has been made of the migrant caravan that is making its way through Mexico and heading for the southern border of California and other U.S. states. It has become a divisive political topic as mid-term elections approach, but the legal issue regarding the status of these people won't be resolved when Election Day comes and goes. The seminal issue on point is the definition of an asylum seeker.
California residents might have read that on Oct. 1, the Trump administration put a policy in place that will require unmarried same-sex partners of United Nations workers and foreign diplomats to be married or lose their visas. People have until Dec. 31 to comply. After that date, they will have 30 days in which to leave the country.
The separation of parents from their children at the U.S. border by immigration officials sparked outrage in California and internationally. Now, according to an agreement reached between the separated families' lawyers and the Department of Justice, over 1,000 separated families will have a second opportunity to apply for asylum. According to the text of the settlement, deportation proceedings would be halted and parents who were excluded after the first step of their asylum applications would have another opportunity to seek approval.