The immigration environment in the United States is expected to undergo changes in 2024, including adjustments to processing delays, policy changes, and modifications to visa requirements. Here’s a little peek at what the upcoming year holds in store.
Visa Changes and Updates
2024 may witness updates to various visa categories. The Biden administration has shown a commitment to reviewing and amending immigration policies, so watch for potential changes in eligibility criteria, application processes, and quotas for popular visas like the H-1B, L-1, and family-sponsored visas.
Expect a continued focus on reforms in employment-based immigration. The Biden administration aims to make it easier for skilled workers to obtain visas, and this could result in changes to the allocation and processing of employment-based visas.
H-1B Visa Changes in 2024
In the H-1B visa rule proposed on October 23, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unveiled intentions to modify the H-1B selection process, with the changes anticipated to take effect in time for the upcoming H-1B lottery in March 2024.
Currently, under existing policies, USCIS resorts to a lottery system when the number of H-1B applications or registrations exceeds the annual cap of 85,000 (comprising 65,000, plus an additional 20,000 reserved for advanced degree holders from U.S. universities). In the proposed rule, USCIS noted a surge in registrations for Fiscal Year 2024, primarily attributed to the submission of multiple registrations for the same individuals.
Visa Processing Times
Efforts are likely to be made to streamline US visa processing times. Leveraging technology and refining application procedures may contribute to a more efficient and responsive immigration system.
Addressing visa application backlogs is a priority. The administration may introduce measures to expedite the processing of pending applications and reduce delays in visa issuance.
Changes in US Immigration Policy
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Discussions on comprehensive immigration reform have been ongoing. While major changes might not happen overnight, there could be initiatives to address issues such as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and pathways to citizenship.
The Biden administration has expressed a commitment to family reunification. Expect potential changes to policies affecting family-sponsored visas, with an emphasis on reducing wait times for family members seeking to reunite with loved ones in the US.
US Election 2024 in Relation to Immigration
Here is where some of the candidates in the United States presidential election stand on immigration policy:
Biden, who is the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in the upcoming election, is taking steps to raise the number of refugees allowed into the country. He also backs a plan to grant citizenship to unauthorized farm workers, individuals with Temporary Protected Status, and recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, along with their parents.
In his third run for president, Trump intends to bring back and broaden the immigration policies from his initial term, such as completing the U.S.-Mexico border wall and reinstating the “Remain in Mexico” and asylum restrictions. He pledges to execute the most extensive domestic deportation effort in American history.
Additionally, Trump plans to sign an executive order on the first day of his new term to terminate birthright citizenship for “illegal aliens.” However, this proposal is likely to encounter substantial legal challenges, given that birthright citizenship is protected by the 14th Amendment.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has adopted one of the toughest positions on immigration among GOP candidates. He supports using lethal force against migrants suspected of trafficking illegal drugs as they cross the border. In unveiling his immigration policy, DeSantis also expressed the intention to end birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. to unauthorized parents. Similar to Trump’s proposal, this is expected to lead to legal challenges.
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