Order focus of free forum

A local engineering company is partnering with the Columbus Chinese Association and America China Society of Indiana to sponsor a public session to answer questions about immigration and President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders.

The free event, sponsored by LHP Engineering Solutions, is 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday at The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus, in the upstairs meeting room. Lunch will be provided, said Hua Jing, Columbus Chinese Language School principal.

An immigration seminar initially was being planned for parents of Columbus Chinese Language School parents who were concerned and had questions about the executive orders and their families, Jing said.

After some discussion, the local Chinese community decided to partner with LHP and the society for a larger program that could include people coming to the United States for internships and others working here on H1B visas, Jing said.

An H1B visa is granted under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, allowing U.S. companies to temporarily employ international workers in specialty occupations. The program is used by several manufacturers in Columbus to provide engineering and other high-tech talent.

On March 15, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a stay of Trump’s second executive order, which would have temporarily stopped new visas being issued to six countries with large Muslim populations and banned refugees from coming to the United States. The order was to take effect March 16.

It’s been about a month since the 150-member Islamic Society of Columbus, Indiana invited the community to a meeting at IUPUC where an immigration attorney answered questions about Trump’s initial executive order to temporarily ban immigration from seven primarily Muslim countries.

Despite the stays that have been issued, many foreign nationals and companies with employees from other countries have become increasingly anxious about the immigration climate in the United States, an event announcement about the public session stated.

Blair Wheat, general counsel for LHP Engineering Solutions and a specialist in employment-based immigration law, said he will provide an analysis of immigration reform in the United States and talk about some of the rumors and misconceptions circulating about the executive orders.

Many of the concerns Wheat has heard from the international community in Columbus are about the H1B visa program and its future. Much of the misinformation is being circulated on social media, leading to uncertainty and concern, he said.

LHP Engineering Solutions received questions from its employees in the international community about their future employment status, and what the federal government might be considering for the visa program, Wheat said.

In addition to answering questions at the Thursday seminar, Wheat said he will be a part of the delegation of American Immigration Lawyers Association attorneys who are meeting with members of Congress on April 6 to advocate for immigration reform during the association’s National Day of Action. Members of that delegation will meet with each Indiana representative and senator, Wheat said.

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What: Immigration seminar

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: The Commons, downtown Columbus

Cost: Free

Speaker: Blair Wheat, attorney for LHP Engineering Solutions who specializes in employment-based immigration law.

Meal: Lunch will be provided