The Trump Admistraton is seeking ways to tighten legal immigration in exchange for making DACA permanent
Attorney Caroly Pedersen
As President Trump calls on Congress to make DACA permanent in exchange for reforms, his Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is secretly working behind the scenes and making unilateral changes to existing policies which will tighten requirements and reduce overall immigration without the need for Congressional approval.
These new policies are already having major effects throughout the entire legal immigration system. Legal work visa policy changes have been implemented under the H-1B program which have retroactively changed the requirements and caused thousands of visa denials.
Directives to Consular officers
Consular officers have been given more authority to re-adjudicate approved cases and deny visas for cases previously approved by the USCIS and to deny student visas. This is based primarily on the officers “subjective” belief that the applicant does not intend to return to their home country after their US studies are completed.
Asylum review guidelines for officers have been modified to provide more restrictive interpretation of the proof necessary for eligibility. USCIS officers are encouraged to apply the strictest standards to each application, leading to increased requests for evidence and denials for minor technical errors.
Other policy changes include the recently announced 90-day rule which abruptly replaced the existing 30/60 day rule. Under this strict new rule, any application for change of status or adjustment, or even marriage to a US Citizen made within 90 days of entering the US will result in an automatic presumption of “pre-conceived intent,” meaning that it will be presumed by the government that at the time the visitor entered the US, he or she made a “willful misrepresentation” to the officer at the border, which could result in potential revocation of their visa.
DHS exploring other changes
Similarly, the DHS is exploring other subtle changes to immigration policies that could have major consequences, including eliminating work authorizations for spouses of professional workers and restricting STEM students to only 12 months of work authorization, rather than allowing them to have an additional two extra years.
Other measures being considered may simply just slow down the visa issuance process, so as to significantly reduce yearly levels of legal immigration. This is already being implemented to a degree by a new policy requiring that all employment based residency applicants undergo an interview at local USCIS offices prior to Green Card approval.
There are still other measures being considered that could significantly slow down family cases and also naturalization processing (which currently already takes up to a year in some jurisdictions) even more. This would effectively disqualify many immigrants from voting in the 2018 mid-term general elections, to benefit Republican candidates.
As a result, it is even more important than ever for US citizens and residents file to sponsor family members in order to avoid even more delays in processing, and for residents to file for Naturalization now, to give themselves a chance of becoming a US citizen before the 2018 Midterm elections.