Immigration regulations in 2018 that could affect legal Indian immigrants significantly

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Doug Rand, co-founder and president of Boundless Immigration, and former Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship in President Obama’s White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. (Photo: LinkedIn)

Doug Rand, a former White House official who worked on the H-4 visa  regulations sent out an email listing the highlights of what transpired with immigration over the year 2018. The H-4 regulations relating to Employment Authorization brought in during the last days of the Obama administration enabled thousands of Indian spouses, mostly women, to work in the U.S. while their husbands were on H-1B visas,

Last week, Rand noted in his Dec. 19 email, the Department of Homeland Security implemented what he considers a new obstacle for over 166,000 married couples each year.

“Nearly all of them will be required to attend an in-person interview two years after receiving a spousal green card, where they will have to prove the authenticity of their marriage for a second time,” Rand noted, and goes on to predict that, “The coming influx of new interviews is bound to exacerbate backlogs for green cards and U.S. citizenship, as well.”

Rand provides a “non-exhaustive” list of the year’s top 10 legal immigration policy changes:

1.Public Charge, Act One: On Jan. 3, the State Department began to exclude more people seeking to enter the United States from abroad, if they are deemed too poor, old, or unhealthy, Rand says. The city of Baltimore recently sued to block this move.

2.Public charge, Act Two: On Oct. 10, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled its proposed “public charge rule,” which Rand describes as “a back-door wealth test that would slash legal immigration by more than 50%, separate nearly 200,000 married couples each year, and cost up to $13 billion in annual compliance costs alone.”

3.Rejection Rates on the Rise: So far in 2018, DHS has denied 37% more legal immigration applications than in 2016, including applications for work permits, travel permits, green cards, H-1Bs, and other visas, Rand estimates.

4.One Strike and You’re Out: Rand says the DHS announced a “zero-room-for-error” policy toward legal immigration applications, scaling back the ability of applicants to correct minor mistakes and initiating deportation proceedings against anyone who is out of status at the moment their application is denied.

5.Booting International Students: Going forward, DHS will bar international students from the United States for up to 10 years based on any visa infraction, no matter how minor or innocent, Rand says. A number of universities have sued to block this move.

6.Denaturalization Task Force: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched a new office dedicated to ramping up the number of naturalized Americans who are ultimately stripped of their U.S. citizenship for past infractions, according to Rand.

7.Closing the Door to Entrepreneurs: Meanwhile, USCIS stated that “the current Administration’s priorities” do not include implementing the International Entrepreneur Rule, an Obama-era policy that would make it easier for start-up founders to build companies in the United States and employ American workers, according to Rand’s analysis.

  1. H-1B Visas in Turmoil: “Bit by bit, USCIS has made it more difficult for U.S. employers to hire and retain skilled workers on H-1B visas, with unintended consequences that may harm U.S. workers,” Rand says.

9.USCIS Changes Mission Statement: USCIS changed the mandate that was part of its founding. The agency, Rand notes, “no longer deems “secur[ing] America’s promise as a nation of immigrants” as its primary purpose, having scrubbed positive language about immigrants from its mission statement.”

10.Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban 3.0: One ruling that is unrelated to the Indian legal immigrant cohort directly is a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which allows the latest version of the travel ban to go forward, effectively blocks nearly all applications for green cards and temporary visas from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen (plus lesser restrictions on Venezuela), Rand notes.

 

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