Actually that’s not completely true; there are morsels of good news* But they’re small compared to all the scary immigration changes the government is making. Trump wants to make the U.S. far less immigrant-friendly. He and his minions continue to take their wrecking ball to our immigration system.
Here are a few changes (there are far too many to list all):
- Social media information. The Department of Homeland Security is adding information it might include in a foreign national’s immigration file (A-File). The new information includes “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results.” It’s part of an increasing effort by the government to request and gather more and more information on foreign nationals coming to the U.S. temporarily or permanently.
- Student applications for U.S. visas. Students (like all temporary visitors) must prove they don’t have “immigrant intent” and plan to return to their home country after their stay ends. Previously the Department of State recognized that there were “inherent differences” between young F-1 students and other short-term visitors. In August 2017 the Department of State changed its guidance in its Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) at 9 FAM 401.1-3(F)(2). to treat students like any other temporary (nonimmigrant) visitor. This is a more difficult standard for students to meet; the previous guidance recognized that students are in the early stages of building their lives and usually don’t have the strong ties that other visitors do.
- Challenges to employment visa applications. The government has been issuing many more Requests For Evidence (RFEs) to employers trying to hire foreign nationals for temporary and permanent U.S. visas for jobs they can’t fill with U.S. employees. It’s getting increasingly difficult for companies to hire talented students or other foreign nationals for U.S. jobs. Note: It wasn’t easy before.
- Military enlistment and naturalization. Enlisting in the military was a faster path to U.S. citizenship. Not any more. On Oct. 13 the Department of Defense halted ALL military naturalizations for all currently serving members of the US Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and their Reserve Components, including the National Guard). Other immigration benefits for military members are also being dismantled.
- Production quotas for immigration judges. The Justice Department is trying to impose quotas on immigration judges and says it’s to clear up backlogs of cases. The judges are strongly objecting and say it threatens their independence and their ability to carefully decide life-or-death deportation decisions.
- There’s no progress on DACA yet. No further DACA applications or extensions can be submitted, and so far there’s no progress on a legislative solution to grant a more permanent status to so-called Dreamers.
*Good news: you can now apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) and work permit (EAD) together which will save delays in getting SSNs. Also there have been some successful challenges to new Trump orders: A Hawaii judge blocked Trump’s latest travel ban. An Illinois federal judge continued a nationwide ban on the Justice Department’s plan to insist that cities and counties – so-called sanctuary jurisdictions – help the feds enforce federal immigration law. The judge said that’s probably unconstitutional.