The past year has been a period of several changes and issues regarding immigration in the United States. Green card holders and immigrants alike affected by the major changes being introduced to immigration policies recently. Among the top sources of immigrants are Mexico, China, and India, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico; with Mexico accounting for 25.5%, which is five times any other country mentioned. The rhetoric of President Trump on immigration has always been focused mostly on Mexicans. Over the last five years, the number of immigrants who obtained permanent legal status in the United States has increased. In 2016, 1.18 million immigrants received legal resident status.
Last year, immigration reforms included the travel ban, an increase in deportation proceedings, reduction of refugees’ admission, the controversy of “sanctuary cities,” the threat to end programs that protect undocumented immigrants such as the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
This year, there have been changes in the US immigration law that will definitely affect a great number of those vying to be citizens of the United States; and with all the changes and talks on immigration reforms, green card holders continue to fear for their status. As a result, they resort to seeking naturalization in order to protect themselves. Among the changes in immigration laws and issues are the following:
Legitimate Signature Requirement
In the midst of changes in processing immigration application, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new regulation on February 16, 2018. Effective March 18, 2018, they require applicants and petitioners to submit a legitimate signature on the forms in order to obtain immigration benefits. Power of attorney signature will not be accepted, except for those done on behalf of persons with disabilities and children below 14 years old; otherwise, only authorized persons are allowed to sign forms. Applicants should also expect more forms, notarized signatures, and certified translations to be required.
USCIS Mission Statement Revised
The mission statement of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been revised from:
“USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.”
“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”
While the USCIS continues to do what it does, this change in the mission statement is symbolic amidst all the issues and changes that surround immigration policies recently.
The government is also considering reducing family-based immigrants. If approved, only spouses and their minor children will be allowed to be sponsored by green card holders and US citizens. Aside from this, the administration also plans to revise the provisions of the visa lottery, which grants visas to underrepresented immigrants from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Earlier this year, The White House also proposed a budget of $25 billion to build borders between the US and Mexico.
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