New administrations often bring changes in existing policies. It is no secret that this administration has taken a draconian stance on immigration, legal or otherwise. In the absence of a Congressional solution, this administration leans on USCIS memos to create barriers for legal immigrants. Having a hard time keeping up with all the policy changes? Here are 5 recent highlights.

USCIS suspends premium processing for many types of H-1B petitions

Effective September 11, 2018, premium processing service for most types of H-1B petitions will be unavailable until February 19, 2019. Who does this affect? Who is exempt from this suspension? Here’s what immigration attorney, Nadia Zaidi has to say about this announcement.

Shocking increase in citizenship backlog

Thinking about citizenship? Don’t wait too long. A recent report from the National Partnership for New Americans found that a backlog of approximately 390,000 naturalization applications had increased to nearly 730,000 over the past 2 years. A process that used to take 5-6 months is now taking up to 21 months in some locations.

Trump administration indicates end of H4 EAD program is near

In a court filing dated August 20, 2018, the Trump administration confirmed that it is finalizing a notice to pave the path for revoking H4 EADs. No specific timeline has been provided, but the notice itself cannot terminate the program. Once the notice is released, there is a public commentary period and once all comments have been reviewed, only then can a final rule be issued. Read more here.

Students & exchange visitors (F, M or J visas) in danger of being barred from the U.S.

USCIS issued a new rule on August 9, 2018 that drastically changes how unlawful presence will be calculated for a foreign student or exchange visitor in the U.S. Many will accumulate unlawful presence without even realizing it. This has serious consequences and can lead to being barred from the U.S. for 3 or 10 years. Read more here.

Immigration officers given more discretion to deny applications without issuing RFEs

Effective September 11, 2018, adjudicating officers have more discretion to deny petitions & applications without first issuing an RFE (Request for Evidence) or NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny). According to the new memo, the USCIS will now be allowed to deny cases “for failure to establish eligibility based on lack of required initial evidence.” However, the types of situations where such a denial would be permitted are still limited. How this will be implemented remains to be seen. Read more here.

Navigating the American immigration system has always been challenging, but now more than ever, one must be extra vigilant with filings of any kind. If you or a loved one are impacted by any of these changes, schedule a consult with an experienced immigration attorney today.

*The content and materials available via Ask Ellis are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice

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