A lawful permanent resident in the United States may be eligible to apply for US citizenship. In most cases, you need to be a resident for a certain number of years, and be in “continuance residence” during that time.
Being a continuance resident means that you have not left the United States for a long period of time.
So many immigrants have shown up at the southern U.S. border, believing they will be given the opportunity to stay, the Obama administration has begun detaining Central Americans who have not left the country after receiving a deportation order from an immigration judge. The number of families escaping poverty and gang violence, particularly from El Salvador and Honduras has spiked over the past year. Most of these families travel through Mexico and turn themselves in to a U.S. Border agent. In some instances, Cubans, Venezuelans and others have been able to travel to South or Central America and then make their way to the border.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the United States without a visa for up to 90 days. A valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel is required.
The Visa Waiver Program is used for a number of purposes from tourism to taking a non-degree short course of study to negotiating a contract. However, studying for credit or actually being paid to work in the United States is not permitted. Tourists who want to stay longer than 90 days should apply for a B2 visa, and there are special visas for students, or those who want to work an live in the United States. For example, an internationally known artist may apply for an O visa, citizens of Mexico and Canada may apply for a TN visa if they have certain qualifying occupations, others may find a company to sponsor them with the H1B visa, and the E2 or L1 visa may be a path to operating a business in the United States.
Fortunately, the government shutdown did not cease interviews at USCIS. We continued to represent clients in marriage cases and to see officers at the USCIS windows checking on the status of cases. However, the immigration courts operated on a limited basis and now have to deal with all of the non-detained cases which were continued due to the shutdown.
Both the USCIS and immigration courts have been impacted due to the sheer numbers of cases and this is causing delays in response times. Today, when we called the VAWA hotline for assistance on a case, we were informed that the voicemail was full. When we were in court this week, ICE counsel reported that they were experiencing delays due to their offices being understaffed during the shutdown, but they are working diligently to get back on schedule.
House to Consider Legislation The House is expected to consider a series of bills dealing with various aspects of immigration reform during the fall. What it is not expected to do is to consider the Senate version of immigration reform. Underlying much of the differences is the belief on the part of many Republicans that border security is a priority. In the past, immigration reform legislation promised border security, but it was not delivered, and that is the reason immigration reform is needed once again.