When a new year begins, there are generally new laws, policies, etc. that are set to take effect. With the Trump Administration spending so much time addressing immigration reform, it is no surprise that there will be changes to certain immigration policies and procedures in 2020. If you are an immigrant living in Atlanta, GA, our immigration attorneys want to be sure you are aware of some of the changes that are likely to come so that you can prepare yourself in the event they will affect you.
- S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will likely be increasing its fees.
Although it is common for USCIS to assess its fee schedule every so often to determine whether its costs need to be raised, the proposed fee increases are incredibly high. For example, the cost for a citizenship application is expected to increase by 83%, from $640 to $1,170 and green card application fees are expected to increase by 79%! Bloomberg Law is saying that the agency is proposing a 22% increase in the base fee for an H-1B specialty occupation visa petition.
To make things even more complicated for employers who hire H-1B visa recipients, the source says that USCIS is also proposing to “require companies with at least 50 U.S.-based employees and with 50% or more of their workforce on an H-1B or L-1 intracompany transferee visa to pay an extra $4,000 every time they extend a worker’s visa.” As you can imagine, this can become rather costly for an employer when they find themselves needing to retain employees to complete a job.
- Changes to H-1B.
Bloomberg Law says that “electronic preregistration for the H-1B lottery becomes official March 1, 2020.” With a new process that has been put into place, employers are now allowed to “enter the lottery for the 85,000 visas that become available October 1, 2020, without having to prepare a full petition and supporting documentation.” While this might be good news for some employers, the source says it “could also cause problems for smaller employers trying to compete for the visas.”
- Decision made on DACA.
Although the Trump Administration has attempted to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Bloomberg Law says the U.S. Supreme Court will likely rule in June on whether the program shall end. DACA “allows certain individuals who meet specific guidelines to request consideration of deferred action from USCIS.” Those who are granted deferred action are protected from being placed into removal proceedings and will not be removed from the U.S. for a specific period of time.
The source cited that one report claimed that if DACA were to end, it could result in an average of 30,000 DACA recipients losing their jobs every month. The source cited another report that concluded that by removing DACA workers from the U.S. economy, it would “cause a $460.3 billion drop in national gross domestic product over the next decade.”
- Potential changes to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.
According to Bloomberg Law, “a federal judge in Washington has indicated a willingness to entertain a lawsuit [filed] by a group of U.S.-born tech workers who say OPT is illegal and harms their job prospects.” OPT “allows foreign graduates of U.S. colleges and universities to work in the U.S.” Depending on how the judge rules on the case along with any policy changes issued by USCIS, we could see some changes to how the OPT program will operate in 2020.
- Changes to how H-4 work permits are issued.
Several proposals have been created since President Trump took office, many of which aim to limit the number of immigrants who can live and work in the U.S. Apparently, there has been a proposal under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget since February 2018, says Bloomberg Law, that would “rescind a program providing work permits to certain H-4 spouses of H-1B workers.” The source says the proposal is expected to be released sometime in spring 2020 for public comment which means it could be implemented in summer or early fall.
To make matters worse for H-4 recipients, U.S.-born tech workers have filed suit against the program alleging that “it’s causing them to face increased job competition.” If the program were to be terminated, it could “result in more than 120,000 H-4 spouses, mostly women from India, [being put] out of work.”
Although 2020 has just begun, prospective changes are coming in the near future that will impact immigration law. If you have any questions regarding any of the proposed changes presented above or have another concern you would like to discuss with a legal professional, you can always contact Kuck | Baxter Immigration to speak with one of our trusted Atlanta, GA immigration lawyers.
Kuck | Baxter Immigration can be reached at:
365 Northridge Road, Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30350