Every New Year, we look back and reflect upon both triumphs and tribulations. We also look ahead, wondering what new challenges or surprises may be in store for us in the coming months. If you are working toward an immigration benefit such as a visa, a green card, or citizenship, you likely want to stay informed about any changes to immigration laws and policies that could affect your case.
To help you, our team at Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. has put together the following overview of what you can expect from immigration law in 2020.
We always recommend beginning your immigration process sooner rather than later, simply because wait times have significantly increased in recent years. But you now have another possible motivation for submitting your application as soon as possible.
USCIS has announced plans to increase fees for several applications, including:
- Asylum: from free to $50
- Citizenship through naturalization: from $640 to $1,170
- Petitions for employment authorization, Form I-765: from $408 to $490
- Removing conditions on permanent residence: from $594 to $760
These fee adjustments are not yet official, so you can save money by submitting applications before they change.
New Electronic Filing Processes
USCIS has described online filing as an important priority, and 2020 will experience several shifts from paper applications to digital.
This year, electronic filing will involve the following applications:
- Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (I-485)
- Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)
- Application for Travel Document (I-131)
- Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker (I-129)
- Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal (I-589)
Additionally, USCIS is implementing an online registration process for H-1B petitions. This registration serves as a preliminary petition process, allowing employers to submit basic information for initial approval before sending in completed applications.
Changes to Citizenship
To become a citizen, you must pass an English and U.S. civics/history test during your interview. USCIS has announced plans to implement a new test in December of 2020 or the beginning of 2021. While exact details about the changes are currently unavailable, the new test may have more difficult questions.
USCIS is also expanding the list of behaviors that may prevent a citizenship applicant from meeting the “good moral character” requirement, specifically regarding unlawful acts.
New Public Charge Rule
On October 15, 2019, the new public charge rule was supposed to take effect, but several courts have blocked it. If the Supreme Court allows USCIS to implement the new rule, immigration officers will have expanded authority to deny green card petitions if they believe the applicant is or could become a public charge. Per the new rule, a public charge is anyone who receives certain public benefits for more than 12 aggregate months in any 36-month period.
The final rule could take effect on February 24, 2020.
Get in Touch with Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. for Personalized Guidance
We are committed to providing our clients and community with as much information as possible about the immigration process. As laws and policies change, we adjust our strategies accordingly to provide you with the thoughtful, personalized, and effective legal services you need. With more than 50 years of combined experience, our team has what it takes to help you accomplish your immigration goals as soon as possible.