USCIS Makes Changes for 2020

February 26, 2020

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) instituted many changes to the U.S. immigration system last year, as ordered by the Trump administration. Many new regulations go into effect for 2020 and will impact millions of immigrants living legally in this country.

New Electronic Filing Forms

These new forms are designed to streamline certain processes by eliminating paper and transitioning to digital applications. They include:

  • I-129 Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker
  • I-131 Application for Travel Document
  • I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal
  • I-765 Application for Employment Application

Complementing these forms is a set of self-help online tools that will aid users in monitoring and expediting their progress.

Fee Increases

There will be an 83 percent increase for the U.S. citizenship through the naturalization application. In addition, petitions for employment authorization will be raised by 20 percent and Form I-751 will also increase by 28. The USCIS will also start charging $50 to all asylum seekers, making the U.S. one of just four countries across the globe that charges fees for humanitarian protection.

A Cornell University Professor of Immigration Law commented that these fee hikes are historically high. Although it is not unusual to have proposed fee increases, some of the percentage increases are much higher than it has been in the past. An immigration attorney added that the agency is using the fees as a penalty to make it harder for people to file for benefits and green cards that they are eligible for.

Citizenship Tests and Moral Guidelines

The USCIS Revision of the Naturalization Civics Tests memo revealed that there would also be new exam questions on citizenship tests for permanent residents applying for citizenship after December 2020. This more difficult test will have questions about U.S. history and government, and an oral test on the English language. Applicants will also need to prove that they can speak, read, and write basic English. Another new guideline applies to the list of behaviors that indicates the absence of good moral character; this is an important requirement for naturalization. This list has been expanded, and includes unlawful acts, such as failing to pay taxes, jumping bail, and fraud.

Asylum Work Permits and Public Charge Grounds

There are also plans to change rules that apply to work permits that are based on pending asylum applications. The waiting period for employment authorization applications would be increased, and the permits would be denied to asylum applicants who entered this country illegally. The regulations associated with a public charge as an obstacle to entering the U.S. with an immigrant visa or obtaining permanent resident status have been amended. This rule now defines a public charge as someone who receives designated public benefits for over a year within a 36-month period.

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When government agencies try to slow down your legal immigration process, turn to an experienced Vineland immigration attorney at the MC Law Group, LLC. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide. Call us at 215-496-0690 or complete our online form for a free consultation today.