Over the past year, the United States has produced many significant changes in immigration. Especially with COVID-19 taking over the world in 2020, there have been many ongoing changes for those immigrating and immigrants currently in the US. Overall, it is safe to say that United States immigration has been slowing down throughout the year 2020 due to tighter travel rules. Below is a summary of the most influential changes that have occurred in US immigration over the past year.
2020 Visa Changes
New H-1B Rules and H-1B New Rule Denials
The Trump administration announced the plan for additional changes to the H1-B program for high-skilled workers. This new immigration reform will raise the wages that the US companies have to pay foreign workers and reduce eligibility criteria for those who wish to apply. The new regulations will directly affect both foreign workers and employers, but mainly tech companies that have supported and relied on the H1-B visa program and urged for their expansion.
Then in December 2020 those new rules were denied by a federal judge. It has been ruled that the cost for US employers will not increase and the more restricted eligibility will not change. We can expect the H-1B Visa to go back to normal in 2021.
H-1B Visa Lottery
Randomly, the USCIS will have an H1B lottery selecting applicants in the pool to immigrate to the US. These cap selections are broken into two categories: H-1B Regular Cap and H-1B Advanced Degree Exemption. There were two H-1B lotteries in 2020: April and August.
Work Visas Suspended
As result of COVID-19, the US suspended work visas until December 31, 2020. This Proclamation is to restrict foreign workers from being employed in the US in response to the surge of unemployment due to the economic shutdown by the Coronavirus. Thankfully, in 2021 work visa processing will resume.
2020 Policy Changes
New Civics Section Rules for Naturalization Test
Previously the civics portion of the naturalization test had 10 questions from the list of 100 civics test questions. The 2020 version of the civics test is an oral test, and the USCIS officer will ask 20 questions from the list of 128 civics test questions. You must answer 12 of the 20 questions correctly to pass the civic portion of the naturalization test. This does mean that the civics portion of the naturalization test will be a bit more difficult than previous versions. Before taking the US citizenship test be sure to study, practice, and have your immigration lawyer prepare you.
DACA Gets Reinstated
During the Trump administration they blocked any possible DACA recipients in receiving DACA benefits or applying for the DACA program. Recently, that rule has been overturned by the Supreme Court and will soon be allowing DACA recipients to apply for DACA benefits.
US Canadian Border Closed
The US and Canadian border closed at the beginning of COVID-19 and have continued to stay closed throughout 2020. Thankfully there are plenty of people who can cross the border. Currently, the border is expected to stay close to any non-essential travelers until the end of 2020.
Travel Ban Expanded to More Countries
President Trump added six more countries to the list of nations that face travel restrictions to the United States. The following countries are on the Travel Ban list:
- North Korea
The Travel Ban will most likely change in 2021 with a new president coming into term.
How US Immigration Will Change in 2021
We can expect some major changes in US immigration in 2021 considering we will have a new president since 2016. Moving from a conservative president to a more liberal president we can expect the restrictions and rules for the US immigration policy to loosen up.
We predict to allow more highly skilled immigrants to work in the US through H-1B and TN visas.
We also predict the travel bans to be dismissed allowing the current countries to gain visas once again.
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