2020 U.S. Immigration Year in Review

2020 was a turbulent year for everyone and immigration wasn’t any different. From Covid-19 to Federal Court injunctions, many exciting and sobering changes occurred. Here are some of the highlights!

January: USCIS announces H-1B Electronic Registration process and vastly changes the H-1B lottery system. The Trump administration expands its travel ban from 2017 to include Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzani. Often referred to as the “Muslim Ban.”

February: DHS implements the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule. Under the final rule, DHS looks at a new set of factors, like an alien’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, and financial status, education and skills, among others, in order to determine whether the alien is likely at any time to become a public charge.

March: USCIS suspends in-person office interviews and appointments due to Covid. Offices remained closed until June 4th. Additionally, USCIS agrees to accept all benefit forms and documents with reproduced original signatures. A big step toward modernization.

Further measures in result of the Covid-19 pandemic included extending the time allowed to respond to certain requests for evidence and notices of intent to deny. That extension currently remains in place through January 31, 2020.

April: USCIS allows flexibility and introduces new guidance for filing of extension of status for non-immigrants impacted by Covid-19.

May: USCIS announces temporary changes to the H-2B visa process, allowing flexibility for employers to keep foreign agricultural workers employed during the Covid-19 pandemic in order to maintain the infrastructure for the U.S. food supply chain.

June: The Supreme Court rules that the changes to DACA can not be implemented by USCIS and the program must remain. USCIS removes the 30-day EAD processing rule for asylum applicants, and greatly restricts the ability for asylum applicants to apply for work authorization.

July: USCIS launches their redesigned website and continue to modify their telephone customer service system to be as useless as possible.

August: USCIS implements new DACA guidelines in response to Supreme Court ruling of June 2020. Will not accept any new filings and restrict employment authorization to one year.

September: Federal court injunction stops implementation of DHS Fee Rule that would have doubled or tripled immigration filing fees on October 1st, 2020.

October: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution condemning unwanted, unnecessary medical procedures on individuals in immigration detention without their full, informed consent. The resolution came after it was revealed that women in immigration custody had been subjected to involuntarily hysterectomies.

November: USCIS announces changes to naturalization civics test. The revised test increased the number of questions, and candidates must answer 12 questions correctly out of 20 in order to pass. Doubling the amount required.

December: Federal courts enjoin USCIS from enforcing their new DACA guidelines and they begin accepting new DACA applications. Additionally, federal court rules the implementation of the new H-1B wage guidelines cannot go into effect.

We’d love to hear about your immigration highlights from 2020!

Contact us now to discuss your immigration needs for 2021!