Immigration is constantly in the news lately, and the USCIS is constantly making changes that will impact legal immigration, for better or for worse.

What USCIS Changes are Being Made in 2020?

There are a number of changes in the books for 2020, some of which are designed to slow immigration and others to streamline the process:

  1. An increase in the forms which can be  filed online.
  2. The introduction of an  electronic registration system  for the H-1B lottery in April, which will likely increase the number of petitions and thus decrease the percentage accepted.
  3. The USCIS is also tightening the rules for L-1 visas (used by multinational companies doing internal transfers). One company has already said that their refusal rate varies from 80% to 90%.
  4. Fees are going to increase significantly for certain key procedures. For example, the cost of a  naturalization application  will go up from $640 to $1,170.
  5. The naturalization test is under review and will be updated..
  6. The rules for what constitutes a “public charge” have been tightened when it comes to obtaining a green card or immigrant visa.
  7. The rules have also for asylum seekers requesting work permits, including increasing the waiting period.

How Will These Changes Impact Legal Immigrants?

Most of these changes will be a net negative for legal immigrants. The across-the-board increase in fees, some of which are significant, is likely the biggest deal. (Even asylum applications now have a $50 fee). In some cases, a  hardship waiver  can be requested; an immigration lawyer can often assist with this, especially for naturalization fees.

The tightened rules on employment visas are definitely going to make it harder both for immigrants and for companies seeking to hire them.

One major concern is the changes to the rules for what constitutes a “public charge.” In the past, most non-monetary benefits were excluded. The new rule defines public charge as somebody who receives one or more public benefits for more than 12 months in a 36 month period, including SNAP, most forms of Medicaid, Section 8. However, no less than thirteen states are challenging the new rules in court and they’re currently on hold pending the outcome of those suits. Again, this is definitely an area in which an immigration lawyer can be useful, especially for people with disabilities.

Asylum seekers are also hit hard. In addition to the fee, the work permit changes appear to be intended to discourage asylum seekers: The waiting period will be increased, applicants who entered illegally before seeking asylum will be denied, the permit will end immediately if the asylum application is denied and the 30-day deadline to rule on permit applications will be removed.

However, the ability to file most immigration forms online will make things a lot easier for many immigrants, especially those filing from outside the country (where postage can be expensive and wait times long).

How do These Changes Impact our Country?

It’s hard to predict. While it is definitely the case that tighter rules on work-based visas  may  improve the chances of a U.S. citizen getting work, in most cases these visas are granted either to people who are already doing the job or people with specialist skills after a legitimate attempt has been made to find a candidate who does not need to be relocated.

The current administration’s limits on refugees and asylum seekers are making the United States, to be blunt, look bad overseas, whilst pleasing those who worry about the cost of taking them in.

Why Call Immigration Law Group?

If you are a legal immigrant or attempting to immigrate legally, then navigating the rules is only becoming more complex with these changes. An immigration lawyer can help you with everything from getting high fees waived to proving you are financially self-sufficient in dealing with complex situations involving family connections.

With Immigration Law Group you can feel confident that you have the help you need to navigate the complex waters of U.S. immigration.  Contact us  today for an initial consultation.

Immigration laws are constantly changing and evolving. And these changes are making it increasingly difficult for individuals to understand the immigration process and what steps they need to take in order to apply for particular Visa’s, Green Cards, and U.S. Citizenship.   These new immigration policies have also made it extremely crucial for individuals to stay up to date on these latest trends and policy adjustments, as they can have a significant impact on immigrants’ access to public assistance programs. One of these new immigration developments has been the implementation of the “public charge” rule. To further understand what this rule is and how it affects those applying for a Green Card, continue to read below or contact our team at Immigration Law Group.  We understand how critical it is to interpret these new policies, and we are here to help you. Our Portland-based attorneys are up to date on all the latest immigration changes and have helped hundreds of individuals going through the immigration process. Whether you are looking for information on how to obtain your Adjustment of Status, discuss your different Visa options, or need some answers regarding the latest immigration legal changes,  contact  our office today for more information.

What is the “Public Charge” Rule, and How Does it Affect those Applying for Green Cards?

Under the new “public charge” rule, green card applicants have to show that they will not become a public charge, which means that they won’t need any federal assistance to live in the United States. This rule includes those that are dependent on the government for their subsistence, those that use cash assistance programs, and those that need long-term care at the government’s expense.   Under this new provision, individuals that are applying for a Green Card in the United States could be denied if they become a public charge. This new rule will include two public charge provisions:
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will penalize those individuals that get certain federal benefits.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will use the “totality of circumstances” test to determine who is a public charge. This test will review “heavily weighted negative factors” versus “heavily weighted positive factors.”
    • Heavily Weighted Negative Factors: This would include an application that is unemployed even though they may have employment authorization.
    • Heavily Weighted Positive Factors: This would include those applicants that have a household income at 250% of the federal poverty guidelines.

The “Public Charge” Rule’s Impact On Our Country

The “public charge” rule will come into effect on February 24, 2020, yet it has already created a lot of fear amongst immigrant communities. Many immigrant families in anticipation of this new provision have already begun disenrolling or refusing specific public programs that are necessary for them to thrive and survive. What’s more, the confusion that has resulted from this rule has had a chilling effect on all immigrant families, even those whose immigration status is not affected by this new provision. As this “public charge” rule becomes effective, the potential impacts on immigrants will be severe.   Not only will it prevent many immigrants from seeking Medicaid or other public benefits, which can have disastrous consequences on their family’s well-being, health, and financial security. But by limiting these benefits, it will prevent immigrants from getting and keeping their job, finishing their education, and taking care of their families. As these ramifications continue to grow, they will not only hurt the individual immigrant families and their communities but eventually, this policy will end up hurting our country as a whole.

Why Call Immigration Law Group?

As the precise impact of this policy is still relatively unknown, it comes as no surprise that this new rule brings with it a lot of uncertainty and questions.   With  Immigration Law Group, we are here to guide you and help you understand not only how this new policy affects your Green Card status, but we are here to also assist you with any immigration question that you may have. If you would like further information on the “public charge” rule or need to discuss your individual immigration case,  contact us  today to set up an appointment.

DACA dreamers

The  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  (DACA) program, since its inception, has offered protection to an estimated 820,000 immigrants who are undocumented from getting deported. Surprisingly, virtually all the immigrants happen to have come to the United States while young, and have been residents for the last ten years. Currently, however, the progress is in serious jeopardy as the government is fighting to phase out the program.

So, what will happen to Dreamers if DACA is rescinded?

What Is DACA?

DACA is an American program founded in June 2012 that offers undocumented immigrants reprieve from deportation and eligibility to work in the US.

Who Are Dreamers?

Dreamers are typically those individuals who are protected under DACA. Approximately 787,580 undocumented immigrants had been approved for the program by the time Trump stated his decision to discontinue the program.

Those eligible for DACA were typically immigrants who came into the US as children below 16 years of age and have grown up as citizens. For applicants to qualify, they must have been below age 31 when the program was initiated. The applicants were also required to have no record of serious misdemeanors, felonies, or a threat to the national security.

Most Dreamers are reported to have come from Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, and Guatemala. The White House also reports a huge number of them to being between 15 and 36 years of age. The majority of them reside in Florida, New York, Texas, and California.

Why Is It Being Reviewed by the Supreme Court?

In 2017, the Trump administration announced to rescind DACA, claiming that it was created unlawfully as the then president had exceeded his executive power. Then followed several legal trials in federal courts, declaring Trump’s decision was faulty-legal reasoning and failed to properly justify ending the policy. These permitted DACA to temporarily continue renewing recipients’ permits, but all new registrations were suspended.

Then, earlier this year the Supreme Court granted to review the case to determine if the administration’s move to end DACA was actually unlawful. So far, lower courts have been in supporting the initiative claiming that the decision by the administration was unlawful and they should provide a concrete rationale for ending the DACA program. The ruling is expected by the end of June 2020.

How Will This Change Affect Immigrants/ People/ Country?

The loss of the DACA would likely have immense consequences for Dreamers and a substantial impact on the nation’s economy.

• Loss of protection from deportation

DACA offers a two-year period of deportation shield and work authorization for eligible immigrants. Ending the program means recipients will lose their work permits as well as deportation protection as their DACA expires. By the end of 2019, at least two-thirds of DACA permits will have expired. Plus, an estimated 156,250 Dreamers would have no protections by July 2020.

According to a 2018 report, 89 percent of Dreamers are employed in different sectors across the country. Therefore, ending DACA would lead to significant economic consequences. It will reduce the overall GGDP by approximately 42 billion dollars.

• Lose Driving license

DACA recipients are allowed by all states to apply for driver’s licenses, which means that as their DACA permits expire, they could end up losing their driving licenses too.

While all 50 states currently permit DACA recipients to acquire driver’s licenses, about 12 states allow all undocumented immigrants. This means some of the recipients will be able to keep their driver’s licenses depending on the state they live.

• Education Opportunities

The end of DACA could result in higher education being less accessible for the recipients. Some recipients, however, will still enjoy education opportunities as several states allow in-state tuition even to undocumented immigrants. Additionally, some states have never permitted DACA recipients to cover in-state tuition.

Unfortunately, the larger numbers of undocumented students reside in states that allow DACA recipients to apply for public colleges but restrict access for undocumented ones.

This would mean Dreamers in such states would lose their eligibility for higher education once their permits expire.

Why Call Immigration Law Group

With Immigration Law Group, you are guaranteed to work with top-rated immigration lawyers. We can give you the help you need to become a lawful permanent resident green card holder.

Contact us today by phone or online via Skype and one of our immigration attorneys will answer your immigration questions. We can help you get on the right track!