Attorney Keir will be in Manila December 1-7. Click here to schedule an initial consultation.

There’s an American saying, “it’s all good.” It means everything’s fine, there’s no problem. Maybe Filipinos say it too. I’m sorry to say it’s all bad right now for U.S. immigrants including Filipinos who want to immigrate legally.

This week I went to an immigration lawyers’ meeting. We discussed what the election means for immigrants, what might happen, and what we as lawyers can do to help our clients. There was no good news, except to remember that you’re not alone. Trump is nominating people with very anti-immigrant views to fill top government positions such as Attorney General.

TNTs or anyone in the U.S. without legal authorization are most at risk; If you have any sort of criminal conviction in your record, you’ll probably be a priority to deport.

But please understand the U.S. laws for LEGAL immigration are going to change. If you’ve been lazy about filing a green card application (I-130) or applying for citizenship, do it as soon as you can. Many people here who have been delaying their applications are trying to get them in as soon as possible. Here are a few areas to think about:

  • Siblings and adult children. I’m quite sure U.S. citizens will not be able to sponsor their siblings or adult children once new immigration laws pass. That will take time; Trump can’t do that overnight in January but it’s coming.
  • U.S. Citizenship. Expect delays if you apply for citizenship. The government has done this before when they didn’t want green card holders to become citizens. Without changing the laws, they can slow down the process for months or even years. Lawyers will fight this but that all takes time.
  • Other visas for Filipinos, such as visitor and student visas, will probably become harder to get.
  • Employment visas may become more limited as the new government tries to find ways to force employers to hire U.S. workers instead of foreign workers..
  • Humanitarian reinstatement will probably become harder to get and it’s not easy now.
  • Filipino WWII Veterans Parole Program (FWVP). It’s possible the new government will end this program; it just started in June 2016. This is one program that might survive, because it’s for Filipino Veterans who became U.S. citizens due to their World War II service that helped the U.S. win the war. Most veterans have died so not many people qualify for this program. On November 15, USCIS announced changes to the program to speed up the process. They are trying to process applications within 4 months, and will allow you to request urgent processing if there are reasons such as deterioration in the health of the veteran. You can also now submit a request for humanitarian reinstatement together with the application for parole, which will help move things along much more quickly. No one knows if this program will continue after January 20.

Please don’t fall for scams. The scammers are busy as they always are. There are people who will promise you they can get your application approved if you just pay them (lots of) money. It’s not true. No one can promise you success no matter how much you pay. I can only promise I’ll do what I say and try my best.

There are things Trump can do overnight, such as ending DACA which mostly applies to non-Filipinos, especially Mexicans. Other changes will take longer. At this point it’s really not smart to say “let’s just wait and see what happens.” The bottom line is to take this seriously, and if you can take action to start an application or move it along, do it.

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