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As we welcome into the new year of 2019, many immigration policies and customs have changed under the current administration. The administration’s focus on the zero-tolerance policy goes beyond illegal entry and illegal immigration. There is a crackdown on multiple areas of immigration, making it harder for people to be legal in the United States than it was before.

A few noticeable changes include:

1. New Deportation Guidelines: A Notice to Appear (“NTA”), is a document that signals the start of removal proceedings against you. If you receive an NTA, it means that you must appear in Immigration Court on the date specified or at a date to be determined in the future.

  • USCIS Officers will be able to issue an NTA for a wider range of cases involving evidence of fraud, criminal activity or when a foreign citizen applies for immigration benefit and is denied or loses any legal status to remain in the United States. So, be careful when applying for any benefits, like a green card or citizenship.

2. Denying Applications for Immigration Benefits without Notice: Previously, USCIS would provide applicants and petitioners, with a courtesy letter explaining to the person that they needed more information or that there was something missing as simple as a birthdate. The applicant usually had about 87 days to then respond to the RFE or NOID and your application would continue to be processed.  

  • Today, USCIS will deny any application that does NOT have enough documentation, supporting evidence or a simple error of not having the date of a signature, etc.; they will process the case, take the fees and then deny the application.  The applicant may have to start all over the process or USCIS may decide to put the applicant in deportation proceedings if no new application is filed. Applicants must be diligent filing applications.

3. Marriage Applications: When applying for immigration benefit based on a marriage, Immigration Services require you to provide additional documentation to prove that you have a “bonafide relationship.” This meaning the relationship/marriage that you claim is true and real and not fraud in an attempt to gain immigration benefits such as a green card or permanent residence.

  • USCIS will now require that couples must live together under the same residence for a minimum of three years before applying for citizenship in the United States. This can be complicated for couples who are in long distance relationships or with a spouse in the military. If the relationship that you originally applied for residence with is terminated before the day of your Citizenship interview- you will be denied the citizenship and your current status could be at risk.

4. Expiration of Temporary Protected Status ( TPS) Applicants: Over 200,000 immigrants have permission to live and work in the United States under their temporary protected status. TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or gives any other immigration status. Current TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are all under this protection. The administration has declared they will not renew the program for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan and will lose protection this year.  

  • Registration for TPS does not prevent you from applying for nonimmigrant status, filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition or applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible. Now is the time to begin your next step towards legal permanent status in the United States.

Now is the best time to get information as to what you can and cannot do about your status and prepare for your future in the USA.  Call us, we can evaluate your case.

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