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Take a read through the biggest immigration policy news of the week!

  • Green Card Application Fees Rise
  • Concerns with CBP Application
  • Migrant Child Labor Addressed
  • 200,000 Ukrainian Refugees Sponsored by Americans

Contact us if you have any questions about how these immigration policies and current events affect your case!

1. Green Card Application Fees Rise

A newly founded concern for immigration activists and asylum seekers themselves includes the potential fee costs for green card applications and adjustments to experience a substantial rise in the upcoming months. In January, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a plan that would increase application costs for practically all categories of immigration to the United States.  Early news attention was primarily focused on the huge price spikes for employment-based visas like the H-1B. Still, it has become clear that other visa types will also experience fee increases. After adding the required I-130 petition for a family member, the total expenses for many marriage-based green card applications double from $1760 to over $3700. Moreover, payments for accompanying kids will no longer be discounted; they will now cost the same as adult applications. With this new charge idea, bringing a spouse and two children to the United States may cost more than $10,000 for a contemporary immigrant family.

The USCIS allowed the public a comment period to provide feedback regarding the proposed fee increases, and this public comment period officially ended on March 13th, 2023. The government received over 6,000 public comments during the public comment period, many of which criticized the planned cost rises and their potential effects on companies throughout the United States, the labor force, and families. It is unknown whether the agency will proceed with the price hikes it suggested in January or whether the final rule will be a modified version based on the feedback received from the public.

2. Concerns with CBP Application

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) One App is a mobile application that was established in 2020 in an effort to handle the rise of asylum seekers crossing the U.S-Mexico Border. The program eliminates the need for in-person interviews and paper documents, enabling asylum applicants to file their first claims online. Moreover, it allows asylum applicants to track the progress of their cases in real-time and get alerts for upcoming hearings in immigration court. With the primary goal of providing simpler application access for many immigration services to asylum seekers throughout the world, the CBP One App has been successful in several ways. However, more recently, the mobile application has raised concerns for many non-citizens seeking asylum regarding their privacy and accessibility.

Legislators and organizations that support immigration have reservations about the app’s accessibility and privacy policies. Although CBP representatives maintain that encryption technology safeguards user data, many privacy activists are concerned that the app may be used to capture sensitive personal data, including fingerprints and facial recognition information. According to CBP’s privacy policy, any individual information gathered from users may be provided in response to a court order, administrative directive, or for law enforcement needs.

In addition to concerns about privacy, the CBP app’s accessibility continues to be a major concern with the app’s increased use, since not all asylum seekers have access to a smartphone or steady internet connection. For people with little financial means, understanding the asylum procedure may become more challenging as the program grows if it is dependent majorly on a mobile device app.

3. Migrant Child Labor Addressed

President Joe Biden and his administration have established plans to address migrant child labor throughout the United States. Recent investigations have revealed children working in dangerous jobs and conditions throughout the nation, which has been labeled as unacceptable by the White House Press Secretary as the rest of the Biden administration promises to crack down on these issues.

As a result of the unprecedented number of children crossing the border without their parents, harsh occupations that completely violate child labor laws are being assigned to them. In response to these violations, the white house has made efforts to look into cases of child labor abuses by employers in order to enhance the fundamental assistance given to migrant children when they are released to sponsors throughout the United States.

The Department of Labor (DOL), which is responsible for enforcing these protection laws, said that as part of the new initiative to crack down on these violations, their agency will target both bigger businesses that use child labor in their supply chains as well as the smaller businesses such as factories and suppliers who usually unlawfully employ minors. Children of migrants often use fictitious identities to get work from staffing firms that do not check their social security numbers. In the past, businesses and employers have been able to work their way around the consequences of these violations by putting blame on other factors when getting discovered.

4. 200,000 Ukrainian Refugees Sponsored by Americans

The United States has accepted greater than 200,000 refugees from Ukraine this past year and plans to assist more.  Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which first began in 2022, many Ukrainian nationals were forced to evacuate their homes and seek safety and security elsewhere in the meantime. During this hard time period for Ukraine, many neighboring countries and even nations across the globe welcomed refugees with open arms. This includes the United States, which accepted over a hundred thousand refugees instantly with little refusal.

Fast forward an entire year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has calculated that almost 300,000 Ukrainian Refugees have been admitted into the United States. Approximately 100,000 of them coming through a program recognized as “Uniting for Ukraine.” Under this private refugee sponsorship organization, Americans can donate money to assist Ukrainians. Beyond this program, another 150,000 Ukrainian refugees entered the country illegally or by crossing the border U.S-Mexico.

5. Silicon Valley Bank’s Collapse Effect on Immigrants

Silicon Valley Bank is home to many immigrant technology workers who are living in the United States under a temporary employment visa, such as an H-1B. Therefore, the collapse and dissolvement of the Bank program can cause serious consequences for immigrants employed there.

Silicon Valley Bank Financial Group was shut down by California’s banking authorities late last week, making it the worst bank failure since the Great Recession. As Silicon Valley Bank primarily concentrated on lending to technology firms, its failure is expected to significantly impact the sector as a whole. Given that roughly 44% of information technology businesses were founded by immigrants and that more than 70% of tech workers in Silicon Valley were born abroad, immigrants (particularly business owners and employees) may also be disproportionately affected by the news.

In addition to laying off nearly four thousand individuals, many of whom are immigrants, Silicon Valley Bank’s demise has the potential to have an influence on the entire labor market, particularly in the venture capital industry. Layoffs are more difficult for foreign employees than for United States citizens. The immigrants’ entire status and ability to remain in the United States may rely on the company they work for. In addition to other typical work visas, immigrants are deemed automatically out of status in the U.S. if they leave their employment or get fired while on an H-1B visa which puts their eligibility to remain in this nation at risk.

6. Issue of Student Visas Up to One Year Ahead

The United States has developed a system that will issue student visas up to a year before their program start date. Specifically, the state department has announced that F and M student visas can be applied for and issued 365 days in advance. This is much sooner than the prior eligibility. Until recently, students could only apply for a student visa 120 days before the beginning of their program, which is less than half of the time gap they have now.

Even though the United States State Department has made this decision, they have also emphasized that overseas students who get a United States student visa will continue to be subject to the same regulations governing the entrance date. It is not possible for students to visit the U.S. on this sort of visa more than thirty days prior to the start of their program, even if they apply for a student visa up to a year in advance.           

The implementation of this new time period adjustment was made in order to reduce backlogs and enable students and national authorities to make plans in advance, considering the United States continues to be one of the most well-liked study abroad countries, drawing many students from all over the globe each and every year.

Immigration policy is a complex and constantly evolving issue that impacts individuals, families, and communities around the world. As countries grapple with the challenges and opportunities presented by immigration, it is essential to consider the diverse perspectives and experiences of those affected by these policies.

Staying informed on immigration policies and news is crucial for anyone navigating the immigration system. Shepelsky Law is a reliable source for the latest updates and developments in the field of immigration law. Stay in touch!

Contact us if you have any questions about how these subjects affect your case!