These policy changes will impact legal immigrants in the U.S. in 2019 – Miami Herald

In 2018, the Trump administration pushed to cut down on legal immigration and strengthen the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to enforce immigration laws.

Among the changes were U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations and procedures that affect immigrants who entered legally the United States — particularly pertaining to deportations. However, not all of the new rules are punitive. Some help foreign citizens obtain immigration benefits such as green cards or permanent residence.

Here is a summary by of five changes or updates in U.S. immigration regulations that will affect immigrants in 2019.

New deportation guidelines

A new procedure for issuing Notices to Appear or NTAs expands the list of reasons for which immigrants can be summoned to appear before immigration judges to start deportation procedures.

The updated list includes violations of federal or state programs related to “the reception of public benefits”, fraudulent or criminal activity, and denials of immigration benefits such as a visa that result in the loss of status to remain legally in U.S territory.

Read more: Legal immigrants who abuse public benefits are now more likely to be deported

Denial of applications without warnings

A new guideline gives USCIS adjudicators full discretion to deny applications for immigration benefits, such as U.S. citizenship, permanent residency and visa extensions, without first issuing courtesy warnings known as Requests for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID).

The two notifications gave applicants and their attorneys the opportunity to intervene by providing more documentation or correcting mistakes before adjudicators closed their cases. USCIS officials can now deny an application, petition or request if initial evidence is not submitted to establish eligibility, and proceed directly to deportation.

Read more: Be careful with your green card or visa application. A mistake can now get you deported

Changes in the medical exam record for U.S. residency

An updated policy guidance affects the medical and vaccination examination required for determining whether a permanent residence applicant meets public health requirements for admission to the United States.

To enhance operational efficiencies, the guidance extends the validity of Form I-693, which accompanies the results of the medical exam. It can now be signed by an authorized physician up to two months before filing the underlying application for an immigration benefit.

Read more: A basic requirement to get a green card has changed — and it helps legal immigrants

Show joint residence in ‘marital union’ for citizenship application

A new policy guidance requires immigrants married to U.S. citizens to remain married and live together for at least three years immediately before the foreign spouse filed for the naturalization application based on marriage.

If the marriage is terminated before the applicant takes the Oath of Allegiance, he or she is ineligible for U.S. citizenship under this section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Interview waivers for green cards through marriage

A revised guidance allows USCIS officials to waive the interview currently required to remove the conditional status of legal residence for foreigners married to U.S. citizens.

USCIS adjudicators may consider waiving the interview, which is required after two years of marriage and often makes couples nervous, if there’s sufficient evidence about the authenticity of the marriage, among other conditions.

Read more: Immigrants seeking permanent green cards through marriage may have one less hurdle

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