By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Jennifer Choi faces an uncertain future in the United States due to an immigration issue that President Obama attempted to cure but now is muddled in a prolonged legal battle. Choi, 30, who was born in South Korea but came to the United States with her parents at a young age faces the possibility of deportation.
Choi came to the U.S. with her parents through their E-2 business visa. An E-2 Investor Visa allows an individual to enter and work inside of the United States based on an investment they will be controlling while inside the United States. The family of E-2 visa holders may be followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Per the USCIS web site, family members “may seek E-2 nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay.”
In general, the terms are for 2 years but renewable after the expiration. Choi’s parents have been able to maintain their legal status for the past 18 years.
In addition, Choi attended school in the United States which seemingly afforded her the umbrella designation of being an International Student. In general, International students have 60 days to leave the U.S. after completing their educational program. If the student does not leave within the 60 days, he or she may lose their legal immigration status and become undocumented. Choi told the Northwest Asian Weekly that she has been a full-time student since 2006 in order to stay in the U.S.
After completion of her education, she now faces the end of her legal status and the possibility of returning to South Korea or risk undocumented status.
President Obama attempted to address such situations and many similarly situated in 2012 when he introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, otherwise known as DACA. The executive order issued by President Obama would allow certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. DACA would not provide a path to citizenship but would provide a legal designation to individuals that would otherwise be in the U.S. undocumented. The purpose of the act is to allow families to stay together.
However, an expansion of DACA and an executive order which would help undocumented parents of children born in the United States issued by President Obama has been challenged by a lawsuit filed by Texas and 25 other states. In early November, a federal appeals court blocked the implementation of an expansion of DACA and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability). The National Council of Asian and Pacific Americans and other immigration, civil rights and social justice organizations filed briefs supporting a request by the Obama Administration that the United Supreme Court address the federal appeals court ruling which prevents the implementation of the expanded immigration rules.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton recently stated that she would defend President Obama’s executive actions on DACA. “If we say that we support families in this country, then that has to mean something,” Clinton told attendees at the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Brooklyn, New York last week.
While an expansion of immigration rules has yet to come, the original executive order issued by President Obama is still available for those that fit the criteria. But DACA may not be feasible for Choi as the original order issued by the President is available to those that did not have legal status in the United States as of 2012. Choi was a student during this time.
An H-1B Visa might be the only hope for Choi and non-immigrants that complete school in the United States and would like to legally stay in the country. In order to attain an H1-B Visa an individual must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, work in a “specialty occupation” and earn a wage. H1-B visas are limited to 65,000 per year. Thus, it is imperative for those that apply to do so early. Also, the classification of what is a “specialty occupation” is an important threshold for seeking one of these visas.
At this point, many young individuals like Choi are seeking answers to uncertain questions when it comes to immigration. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.