Blog Archive

Even though the topic of immigration policy is heatedly debated at the national level, the impact is most commonly felt within the local and regional communities. The H-1B visa program is regularly studied at the national level. However, it cannot be fully understood without fully examining the role H-1B workers play at local and metropolitan levels.

What Is an H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is for a nonimmigrant foreigner to come to America to work in a specialty occupation. This means that the job for which the foreign national is being sponsored must be specialized, and the worker must have specialized training, usually at least a bachelor’s degree. The visa is good for three years and may be extended for an additional three years. Employees working in the U.S. on these visas can be sponsored by an employer for a permanent visa. If a nonimmigrant worker with an H-1B visa is fired or quits a job from the sponsoring employer, the person must either re-apply for and be granted a change in visa status, find another employer or leave America.

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There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the United States immigration system is flawed and broken. There are currently more than 11 million undocumented aliens living across the nation, many of whom are employed without authorization. This

President Barack Obama has plans in place to enact a smarter, more effective immigration system, which continues to work on better border security while creating a more streamlined approach to letting family members and eligible employees enter the country legally. The plan requires anybody who is currently in the United States and undocumented to become compliant with the law through paying taxes and a penalty, learning English, and undergoing a series of background checks before being eligible for lawful status. The plan also requires every business and every worker to abide by the same requirements.

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An H2-A visa is a legal document that allows a foreign national to enter and remain in the United States to do temporary or seasonal agricultural work. The work a person does while on an H2A visa must be temporary or seasonal in nature, which means the work is to be performed only at certain specified seasons during the year.

Basic Provisions & Requirements

The H2-A visa program is temporary and lets an agricultural employer bring in nonimmigrant workers in the event of a shortage of domestic workers who are willing and able to perform the jobs available. According to statistical information from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there are approximately 30,000 foreign nonimmigrants currently in the United States to do temporary agricultural work.

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The United States is a nation built by immigrants and, throughout history, immigrants have kept our workforce diversified, businesses on the cutting edge and helped to keep the country’s economy growing. As immigration reform legislation will surely be an important topic in 2015, get the facts on how immigrants have affected the state of Maryland with our FREE informative infographic.

Feel free to download & share our infographic!

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United States immigration law allows certain immigrant children to obtain Lawful Permanent Residence (“green cards”) through a special visa category known as Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).

Children can qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)Eligibility Requirements for SIJS applicants:

  • Child is under 21 years old
  • Child is unmarried
  • Child lives in the U.S.
  • The child’s reunification with one or both parents is not possible due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment
  • It is not in the child’s best interest to be returned to his or her country of nationality
  • SIJS applicants do not have to prove lawful entry into the U.S. or current lawful status in the U.S.!

Even if your child is in removal proceedings, we can help!

Immigrant children may also apply for work authorization while their application is pending!


Download a printable SIJS Flyer.

The DREAM act, which stands for “Development, Relief and Educations for Alien Minors” is a piece of legislation that is designed to provide a path to citizenship for people who immigrated without documentation into the United States while they were minors. This act is designed to address a kind of blind spot within the consideration of larger and more broad immigration reforms. Since minors cannot be said to have had any role in their immigrating to the United States without documentation, it seems counterintuitive to hold them specifically accountable for their continued presence within the United States borders.

History of the DREAM Act

The DREAM act was first introduced to both houses of Congress in 2001 by Luis Guitiérrez, a representative from Illinois’ 4th district as the “Immigrant Children’s Educational Advancement and Dropout Prevention Act of 2001.” After being passed around between houses and changing titles, the bill failed to be passed. After this, the bill failed to gain traction while the Republican Party held control of Congress. During the Obama Administration, the bill was reintroduced to Congress again in 2010. Despite action to see the bill through on both sides of the aisle, the bill failed to pass once it got to the Senate, being defeated by a mere five votes.

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The DREAM act has been the subject of much debate and controversy over the better part of the last decade and a half. It was first introduced to Congress by Illinois representative Luis Gutiérrez in 2001, and has continued to float around both chambers and committees since then. The DREAM in DREAM act stands for “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors”. It is designed as a kind of compromise version of more comprehensive immigration reform initiatives. Instead of providing a blanket solution, it attempts to address the concerns of immigrant minors who are living in the United States without citizenship status through no fault of their own.

Therefore, a “DREAMer” is one such person. A minor – or a person who was a minor when they entered the country without documentation – that is currently residing in the United States and has yet to be naturalized. Of course, as far as the law is concerned, there are more than a few caveats that have been attached to such a broad distinction. These caveats are in place, in large part, as the result of the intense amount of debate and controversy that has surrounded this issue for some time.

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It is said that the United States is a land made up of immigrants, and looking at the current immigration statistics for the state of Maryland, this continues to be true. Maryland continues to be home to a very diverse community, which no doubt contributes to its vibrant culture. No doubt part of this vibrancy is due to the large population of immigrants that live within the state of Maryland. According to statistics provided by the Immigration Policy Center, as recently as 2011, 13.9% of the citizens of Maryland were born in a foreign country.

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In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform through federal legislation, states have had to take the matter of undocumented immigrants who entered the country while minors into their own hands. One of the first states to take up the issue was the state of California, which under their own version of the DREAM act provides such individuals with access to public and private higher education within the state. Other states have acted too, including Maryland, which enacted its own version of the DREAM act in 2012. Although the bill provides many of the same benefits as the federal legislation currently stalled in Congress, it is, as one might expect, much more limited in its applications and scope.

That being said, one of the most immediate effects of the Maryland DREAM act that has been seen is in the rise in graduation rates within the state. According to the Baltimore Sun, the state-wide graduation rate for the academic year ending in June 2013 rose nearly one percent from the year before to 84.97%. School officials in the state were quick to credit the Maryland DREAM act for the bump in the graduation rate. They pointed out that over that academic year the graduation rate for Hispanics in the state rose nearly 2.5% beating the average across the state in general.

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The DREAM act, as we know it today, was first introduced to Congress in 2001 by a representative from Illinois named Luis Gutiérrez. When he introduced the legislation, it received an intense amount of interest in Congress and was called “Immigrant Children’s Educational Advancement and Dropout Prevention Act of 2001”. The legislation was designed to address a fundamental problem facing undocumented children. Because of various standards and laws, those children are eligible to receive free public education until they reach the age of 18. However, once those children have come of age, there is a wide variety of legal and social challenges to pursuing higher education.

Undocumented children, for example, are ineligible to receive federal student financial aid, a damning blow when you consider the already exorbitant cost of higher education within the United States. In addition, these children are at risk to be deported from the United States, when many have little to no ties to their home countries after living and studying nearly their entire lives in the United States. Even if they are able to avoid deportation, they are legally prohibited from being employed within the United States. The legislation that Luis Gutiérrez brought before Congress in 2001 was designed to address some of these fundamental problems.

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