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:
- An increase in the forms which can be filed online.
- 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.
- 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%.
- 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.
- The naturalization test is under review and will be updated..
- The rules for what constitutes a “public charge” have been tightened when it comes to obtaining a green card or immigrant visa.
- 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.
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.
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.