The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced five changes in immigration regulations and policies. The USCIS is in charge of implementation of the changes through a combination of rules, policy memorandums, and operational changes.
Since the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigrants, the immigration system has undergone various amendments enabling the Department of Homeland Security to enforce immigration law.
The updates will affect legal immigrants holding visas and green cards in the United States and will likely increase deportations in 2019. These new rules make it much more difficult to become a legal immigrant in the U.S.
“Our goal is to apply the nation’s immigration law effectively, efficiently, and lawfully,” the federal agency said recently as it shared a list of the 10 ways it works to improve the integrity of the system — thereby tightening the review of applications for immigration benefits.
Listed below are these updates that may make your immigration processing even more challenging. As such, it is advisable to seek the assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer in California.
- Improve screening and vetting
USCIS started vetting info in some applications for immigration benefits as it receives new data, as opposed to carrying out spot checks during the adjudication duration, in order to enhance the agency’s capacity to identify risks to national security.
Among other actions, the agency has actually strengthened the biometric services for any immigration and naturalization benefit, as well as the personal interviews executed by USCIS adjudicators to spot identity and benefit scams.
- Work on asylum backlog
Authorities applied a modification to process requests for affirmative asylum because of a substantial backlog of pending cases and a wave of trivial as well as illegal applications. USCIS currently initially schedules interviews for current applications ahead of older filings.
The modification deters “those that could try to use the existing backlog as a means to obtain employment authorization,” USCIS clarified in a statement.
- Strengthen policy guidance on deportations:
There’s a new Trump administration guidance that expands the checklist of factors for which immigrants can be sent out before immigration judges to start deportation proceedings against them, after the issuance of summonses called Notice to Appear, or NTAs.
The modification specifically affects legal immigrants that have been rejected a specific immigration benefit request such as a visa or green card. If their application, petition, or benefit request gets refused, their presence in the U.S. becomes unlawful.
According to USCIS, previously, most such immigrants were not issued NTAs, which usually note the initiation of deportation proceedings.
- Information sharing across U.S. government agencies.
USCIS modernized its systems to share information with the departments of State, Labor as well as Justice to fight and avoid immigration fraud.
The enhancements enable even more efficiency in the process of approving and denying visas, including adjustments in the way the agency issues visas.
- Thorough evaluation of visa extension applications.
The agency upgraded the adjudication policy to impose the exact same level of examination for both the initial applications for certain non-immigrant visas as well as for their extensions, even if the underlying truths stay the same from a formerly approved visa.
To extend visas, petitioners need to now once again submit proof that establishes their eligibility. “USCIS officers should not have their hands tied in assessing whether a petition meets legal requirements,” the agency noted. Previously, officers gave deference to the findings of a formerly authorized application.
- Identify students with expired visa status
A new advisory clears up just how to calculate the time foreign students with F-1 visas, vocational students with M visas and exchange students with J visas accumulate unlawful presence in the US as soon as their academic programs end and they fall out of status.
USCIS declared that in the past, students had the ability to breach their student non-immigrant status and continue to be in the USA to work without a permit, and still not accrue a single day of illegal presence.
With the enforcement of immigration policies, international students who overstay or break the terms of their visas will have to voluntarily leave the country or face deportation procedures.
If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance on student visa status, you may want to talk to one of the best immigration lawyers in California to assist you on the next steps you need to take so as not to be at odds with the law.
- Protect U.S. Workers
Under the presidential protectionist executive order “Buy American and Hire American,” designed to protect American workers, USCIS developed a partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid, detect, and investigate discrimination against U.S. employees by employers that bring foreign workers to the United States.
“This new effort improves the way the agencies share information, collaborate on cases, and train each other’s investigators,” the Justice Department said in a press release.
- Fight abuse of H1B Visa
USCIS took on a policy memorandum requiring detailed documentation on the partnership between American employers and foreign employees while these professionals with a specialty occupation H-1B visa work at third-party job sites.
USCIS stated it is important to validate that the sponsoring employer has detailed qualifying assignments in a specialty occupation for the H-1B visa holder during the approximately three-year period covered by this work visa group.
This is one of the reasons why USCIS usually demands a lot more proof to demonstrate eligibility.
- Increase workplace inspections.
The immigration agency increased its program of verification as well as administrative visits to workplaces. Fraud detection and national security agents conduct surprise visits to check if employers and employees are doing the work covered by the visas and following the immigration laws.
For its part, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stepped up its investigations of workplaces to make certain there are no prohibited practices, such as exploiting the employees, paying unlawful wages or hiring foreigners that do not have legal work permits.
Do you have coworkers who need help with their work visas? The best way to help them is to refer them to an experienced immigration lawyer in California. In this way, they can be guided on the steps they need to take to maintain legal work status in the U.S.
- Tightened policies and regulations
USCIS has recommended and adopted policies “that far better comport with the intent of the laws Congress has passed,” including upgrading the EB-5 visa program for foreign investors, revisions in the definition of “public charge” as a factor for denying legal status on grounds of inadmissibility, and the removal of work authorization in specific visa categories.
The suggested modification on the public charge ground of inadmissibility would affect foreigners applying for visas abroad as well as those that intend to adjust their standing to the legal permanent resident within the United States without needing to go back to their home countries.
The guidelines proposed by the Department of Homeland Security would prevent the way to a green card for immigrants who obtain government assistance such as food stamps or rent subsidies under the Section 8 Program.
Contact Our Tustin, California Immigration Attorney
Though these revisions may mean tougher days ahead for legal immigrants, this does not mean you may lose your chance to remain in the U.S. whether temporarily or permanently. The smart move is to talk to an immigration attorney who knows the ins and outs of the immigration process. You can find one of the best immigration attorneys in California at Diener Law. Call us now for a free initial consultation.