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Skilled immigrants face obstacles to green cards

Some South Carolina immigrants may be among those who took steps to file their final green card paperwork toward becoming permanent residents. Many immigrants did so based on a notice from the State Department on Sept. 9 that said it would be possible for many of them to file paperwork beginning Oct. 1. It is a step that brings a number of new benefits to applicants, and many spent thousands of dollars preparing. However, several immigrants have filed a lawsuit against the government after it revised the notice.

On Sept. 25, the government's revision limited the number of people who were eligible to apply. According to the government, the parameters of the original notice had resulted in more visas being offered than were available.

Among the immigrants who filed the suit were a professor and an energy research engineer. The attorneys argued that they were among thousands of highly skilled immigrants who had been affected by the abrupt change in policy. However, the judge agreed with the government's position that the initial notice did not constitute a legal position and refused a request for an emergency restraining order although the case will continue to be heard. A number of business leaders, politicians and attorneys have criticized the government's handling of the case.

This case demonstrates the complexity and uncertainty of immigration law. Immigration law is also changing rapidly as a number of reforms are under scrutiny. People who wish to apply for permanent residency, citizenship, a work permit or a more temporary type of visa may want to consult an attorney. Laws differ for skilled workers, students, family members of students and workers, family members of citizens and more, and an attorney may be able to suggest strategies that a person may not have been aware of.

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