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How to prepare for your naturalization interview

The path to U.S. citizenship can be a long and winding one. You may be one of many who has waited several months just to hear back on the status of your petition, and you might even have recently found out that you have an interview coming up with the USCIS. While earning the naturalization interview can feel like a large milestone in and of itself, it is important that you prepare for the upcoming date as much as possible.

The naturalization interview consists of two components: answering general questions about yourself and your application, and taking the naturalization test. The first component may seem self-explanatory, but it is particularly important that you study for the test. There are many resources and study materials online that you can make use of, and you may want to review how the test breaks down before you begin studying:

Confusion follows announcement on asylum seekers in Mexico

For many people in Tennessee who are dealing with the immigration system, reports about the Trump administration's crackdown on border security may be concerning. The potential of significant changes to a long-established system can be confusing and worrying. One such policy change provoking confusion is the administration's announced plans to keep Central American asylum seekers in Mexico after they present themselves to border officials at a port of entry.

The asylum system is meant to provide a means for people fleeing violence, repression and other forms of persecution due to their social group or protected identity to find safety. However, the process can be grueling. Asylum seekers are now also facing increased uncertainty with the announcement of the new procedures. While the Mexican government echoed the announcement, it also specified that it would not deport asylum seekers during the process. For many, the waiting period could be long. Experts estimate that there is a backlog of over 800,000 cases in U.S. immigration courts. An asylum seeker may wait months or years for their case to be finalized.

Federal judge rules against Trump asylum restrictions

On Dec. 19, a federal judge ruled that new Justice Department policies designed to make it harder for immigrants to claim asylum violated federal laws. The decision, which could affect immigrants in Tennessee and the rest of the United States, was handed down in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The new policies, which were ordered by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, eliminated the ability of immigrants to cite a "credible fear" of domestic abuse or gang brutality as the basis for asylum. Sessions argued that the U.S. asylum program cannot be viewed as a blanket solution for "all misfortune" suffered by immigrants. He further argued that an individual's fear of becoming a crime victim in his or her home country was not enough to qualify them for asylum.

Immigrants face danger as they wait to apply for asylum

Tennessee residents are likely aware that several thousand immigrants from Central America have gathered at the Mexican border. President Trump vowed to prevent the immigrants from entering the United States illegally and has taken steps to prevent them from making asylum claims if they do. The president says that strong measures are necessary to secure the southern border and deter further migrants from making the dangerous journey north, but advocacy groups like Human Rights First say that his policies are placing people who are fleeing violence and poverty in danger.

These groups say that immigrants gathered in cities like Tijuana are falling victim to violent drug cartels that operate close to the border. They also claim that U.S. immigration authorities are making the situation worse by processing only a handful of asylum claims each day. Immigrants arriving at packed border facilities can now expect to wait months for their applications to be processed.

Asylum ban temporarily blocked by judge

Tennessee residents may have heard that President Donald Trump wanted to issue a ban on asylum applications from immigrants who cross the southern border illegally. However, as soon as an order was made to issue such a ban, a lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). A restraining order was issued on Nov. 19 by a judge who heard arguments in the case in San Francisco.

If the order is allowed to remain in place, it would be in effect for three months. According to the Department of Homeland Security, roughly 70,000 people cross the border between ports of entry. These individuals then surrender to American authorities prior to asking for asylum. Those who cross from Mexico usually arrive in Arizona or Texas. According to a representative from the Center for Constitutional Rights, the law is clear as it relates to a person's right to ask for asylum after crossing through a port of entry.

The president has limited power to end asylum

Tennessee residents have likely heard of the migrant caravan traveling through Mexico. While some may have dreams of reaching the United States, the Trump administration has said that it wants to stop the asylum process to prevent this from happening. However, this process is enshrined in both American and international law. The United States immigration laws are entrenched in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, and its subsequent revisions, outlining the asylum process. The U.S. is also party to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention.

Anyone can apply for asylum when they reach border or after they enter the country. This is true even if they reside in the country illegally. Most people however have a 1 year deadline from when they enter the United States to apply. An Asylum Officer will determine whether the applicant is deemed to have a credible fear of returning home, and an Immigration Judge may decide if immigrants are granted the right to remain in the United States.

How are assets split in a divorce?

Marriage isn’t just a union between two people, it also blends all of their stuff — well, sort of. Despite what many divorcing couples may think, property division is complicated.

It doesn’t happen in one discussion and the final decision may not concern either spouse’s opinion. Here are just a few ways who gets what is decided.

USCIS policy on H-1B visas challenged in court

For many Tennessee employers and skilled workers, the H-1B visa can be essential. This visa allows professionals to work in the United States when they are sponsored by an employer. The employer handles the visa paperwork and extension applications. However, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' policy is making the process difficult and unpredictable for employers and skilled workers alike. Companies have reported increasing numbers of problems with visa approvals and the length of extensions.

As a result, some employers have filed suit against the USCIS to challenge the agency's position that it can determine the length for which an H-1B visa is issued. Under existing USCIS regulations, an H-1B visa can be issued for three years or for a shorter period if requested by the employer. However, the USCIS says that it can determine how long the visas are required. Many employers say that receiving extensions of less than six months at a time is now common practice. For a business, this means mounting legal costs and efforts as managers must apply for a new extension immediately after the approval of the first.

Immigration attorneys report concern over green card changes

Some immigrants who are living in Tennessee may be reluctant to seek out government programs they are entitled to in the wake of a Trump administration announcement that green cards will be limited based on what benefits immigrants received. Attorneys report that they are counseling worried immigrants who are considering not applying for or pulling out of programs they are entitled to, and in some cases, those actions put the health and well-being of them and their families at risk.

The policy will not go into effect for months, increasing the sense of uncertainty around what benefits may or may not be acceptable. Furthermore, it is written in a broad enough manner that even programs that are not specifically listed could disqualify a person from green card eligibility. The proposal itself says that in part, discouraging immigrants from participating in these programs is precisely one of the things it is designed to do.

Judge approves asylum plan for separated immigrant families

Tennessee residents may be aware that President Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policy has been challenged in court by attorneys representing immigrant families separated at the Mexican border and advocacy groups. In July, a federal judge in California ordered the administration to reunite the separated families and asked the attorneys involved to develop a plan to deal with their asylum claims.

Many of the parents involved said that they were unprepared for their asylum hearings because they were concerned about their children. Some of these parents have been deported and many more face deportation because they were unable to establish that they were fleeing their home countries because of a credible fear. On Sept. 14, the judge announced that he approved of a plan submitted by attorneys representing the Department of Homeland Security and immigrant families that would give many of these immigrants a second chance to petition for asylum.

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