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Immigration After the 2020 Presidential Election

Since Election Day on November 3rd, the entire country has been anxiously waiting for the result of the vote count. After all, the fate of this country for the next four years will be determined by this election. Immigration is among one of the many topics that the candidates hold drastically different approaches. Those who are studying, working, or immigrating to the United States, despite some do not have the right to vote, are just as concerned as citizens about the outcome of the election, for that their fates for the next four years will also be determined by the winner, and the immigration policies he endorses. Donald Trump has implemented numerous executive orders, although many blocked, targeting...

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Trump Proposes to Abolish the H-1B Lottery System

It was only recently when policies on H-1B were vastly tightened, although whether those rules will stay effective is still to be found out. While the Trump administration is still in lawsuits with universities and company alliances for the last H-1B rule, they proposed a new one, again. The Trump administration has proposed to abolish the H-1B lottery system. Under the current system, the USCIS conducts a lottery and selects petitioners randomly when the cap of 65,000 for regular petitioners and 20,000 for higher academic degree petitioners are reached. A petitioner can only be qualified after being selected. Under the new rule,...

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Trump Administration Sued Over New H-1B Rules

On October 6th, the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security, without any prior notice, announced rules that hugely impact the H-1B visa. As a result of the Department of Labor's rule, the prevailing wage (minimum wage paid to H-1B workers) skyrocketed. On the other hand, the Department of Homeland Security rules that H-1B workers will have to work at occupations that directly relate to their degree of bachelor or higher level. The rule from DHS also limits the period of validity of third-party sites H-1B visas to a maximum of a year, compared to the previous three years. These rules disqualify many that...

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USCIS Averts Furlough, but Backlogs Increased

Due to budget shortfalls, USCIS previously announced that about 13,000 of its employees would be furloughed after August 30th due to severe budget shortfalls. On August 25th, USCIS averted furloughs for its workforce, ordering employees to continue working at their previous positions. USCIS explains that after implementing aggressive cuts in its spending, the agency will operate normally until at least the end of FY 2021. Joseph Edlow, USCIS Deputy Director for Policy, states that to avert this furlough, the agency has made great efforts to reduce its spendings. The most direct impacts of this decision are backlogs, large increases in case waiting times,...

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I-9 Flexibility Due to EAD Delays

USCIS announced on August 19 that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the production of 75,000 Employment Authorization Documents had been delayed. Therefore, USCIS has allowed applicants to submit an I-797 Approval Notice of form I-765 as a temporary replacement of the EAD as a List C document supporting form I-9. This rule is only applicable to I-797’s with Notice dates from December 1, 2019, to August 20, 2020. This rule is effective until December 1, 2020. If the employee submits an I-797 in place of the EAD as a List C document, the employer must reverify the employee by December 1, 2020, when...

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Beware of This If You are on OPT

The OPT (Optional Practical Training) program is offered to F-1 visa holders and allows them to work legally in the United States for 12 months. Many graduates take OPT as their chance to take on internships at their desired companies. However, OPT participants need to remember that the application process is not the only time that requires action from them to be granted and maintain their OPT status. Federal regulations require F-1 holders to notify their Designated School Officials(DSO) of any changes made to their personal/employment information within ten days. DSOs will then update SEVIS with this information within 21 days. OPT participants are...

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H-1B and L-1 Bans Loosened!

Ever since April, the Trump Administration has been drafting numerous bans that target immigrants. On June 22nd, he banned applicants of H-1B and L-1 visas from entering the country. The ban will last until December 31st. On August 12th, however, this ban was loosened. The State Department announced that for the sake of the U.S. financial recovery, H-1B and L-1 applicants seeking to return to their original positions and employers will be issued visas and allowed to return to the U.S. Of course, a series of qualifications need to be met for one to be granted an exception. Let us take a look at how...

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USCIS Drastically Raises Filing Fees

It has been announced that on October 2, 2020, the final version of the fee rule proposed initially by USCIS in November 2019 will finally go into effect. The Trump administration will be using this rule to raise processing fees borne by businesses, new citizens, and international students in need of work authorization. Once effective, the rule will raise fees by 20% on average. This will surely bring financial pressure upon an enormous number of applicants. https://www.uscis.gov/archive/our-fees The table above lists the change in fees for some visas. Go to the link above to view the full chart provided by USCIS. H-1B and L-1 Visas:  L visa petition...

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Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rules Enjoined

On July 29, federal judge George B. Daniels of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan suspended immigration rules on public charge implemented by the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) and Department of State. The rules became effective on February 24, 2020. The purpose of such rules was to redefine the test for the "public charge" ground of inadmissibility. Changes Made by the Rules Before the rules being implemented, a green-card applicant would only be deemed a public charge if he or she was likely to become primarily dependent on the U.S. government through the receipt of cash assistance or benefits for long-term institutionalization. No other types of benefits...

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ICE Bans New International Students Again

July 24th, ICE announced that all international students newly enrolling in their school would not be allowed entry if all of their classes will be taught entirely online. Schools have been asked not to issue I-20 to new students who will take only online classes and are currently outside of the United States. This means such students, without valid I-20's, will not be able to apply for student visas. If the school can provide certification that the student is taking at least one in-person class and not just online courses, they may enter on a valid visa. This rule does not apply to students that are...

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