PROMISES, PROMISES

In 2008, President-elect Obama promised that Comprehensive Immigration Reform would be on the top of his agenda.

In 2020, President-elect Biden promised that he would push for new immigration law immediately. In 2009-2010, President Obama had control over the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In 2021-2022, it seems that President Biden will have control over the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In 2009-2010, President Obama could have passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

In 2021-2022, it seems that President Biden would be able to pass a new Immigration Law.

In 2009-2010, President Obama did not keep his promise about a new immigration law.

In 2021-2022, will President Biden keep his promise about a new immigration law?

WAIT AND SEE.

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TRAVEL BAN – RENEWED

The TRAVEL BAN on issuance of most immigrant visas and most temporary working visas, which was imposed by President Trump during 2020, was supposed to expire on 12/31/2020. However, on that day, President Trump issued a new EXECUTIVE ORDER extending the same TRAVEL BAN for three (3) months, up to 3/31/2021.

This means no consular interviews and no visas issued to most categories of immigrants or skilled workers for another three months.

It remains to be seen what will Mr. BIDEN do when he becomes president on 1/20/2021: will he issue his own EXECUTIVE ORDER to cancel President Trump’s order, or will he simply let it run its course to expiration on 3/31/2021?

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DELAYS, DELAYS….DELAYS

Once upon a time, in the pre-Trump days, when you filed an application or petition, you would get a Filing Fee Receipt within 7-10 days. This was good, because then you knew that your papers were received, processed and you are in the system.

Now, this is a far-away memory. To make it official, a few days ago, USCIS issued notice that Filing Fee Receipts would be mailed within 30 days of filing. It remains to be seen if they keep even this timeline.

They also “hammered” in another change: if the paperwork is “incomplete or improperly filed” it would be REJECTED. They will not give you a chance to correct mistakes, they will just “reject” the whole package, so that you can try again.

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DACA IS BACK – AGAIN

On Friday, 12/4/2020, a Federal Judge issued an order instructing the USCIS to immediately begin implementing the DACA program exactly as it was before President Trump tried to cancel it. Meaning: USCIS must accept and process new applications from eligible applicants who never applied before (not only renewals of old applications), and DACA-based employment permits must be for two years (not one year), and DACA recipients should be eligible for Advance Parole to enable travel out of the U.S. and legal return. Good, very good news. But, it remains to be seen how the present management of USCIS would obey this order – or find new ways to distort and evade it.

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NEW AMNESTY?

On Tuesday, November 24, 2020, on a TV interview, President-elect Joe Biden declared that during the first 100 days of his administration (beginning on January 20, 2021), he would submit to the U.S. Congress a Bill for legalization of millions of undocumented aliens in the U.S. – with a path to citizenship. Congress would need to approve it and pass it as a Law.

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WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM THE NEW ADMINISTRATION?

Former Vice President Joe Biden, is now President Elect Biden. He will become President Biden on January 20, 2021.

A little more than two (2) months from now. He still cannot govern the U.S. WHAT RIGHT NOW: as President Elect, Mr. Biden cannot issue orders, make or change laws. For these powers, he needs to wait until January 20, 2021, when he is sworn in as the 46th President of the U.S. But, he can make preparations and publish his plans. What can we expect from him in the field of IMMIGRATION?

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GOOD NEWS – OPEN EMPLOYMENT QUOTAS

All the restrictions and difficulties imposed by the Trump Administration over the past four years, had his desired effect: the number of legal immigrants has been reduced dramatically, maybe by 50%. As a result, the “waiting lists” (or “quotas”) for employment-based (the “EB” categories) for all countries (except China and India), have been shortened, until there is no waiting list for any employment category (except for China and India). This means that if you are “in status” (you entered legally and your visa has not expired), or if you are outside of the U.S., and you have a good prospective employer to sponsor you, you (and your family) can get Green Cards within a relatively short time. We cannot predict or promise how long this happy condition will remain available, but as long as it is – why not grab the opportunity?

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VOTING IN THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS? BE CAREFUL – IT COULD BE DANGEROUS IF YOU ARE NOT AN AMERICAN CITIZEN – DO NOT VOTE.

If you believe that you are an American citizen - because that was what your parents told you, or because the DMV REGISTERED you to vote, or because you have a Green Card for many years – but you do not have a valid U.S. passport in your hands, or a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship – DO NOT VOTE. If you vote when you are not entitled to vote – you are committing a crime that (practically) has no forgiveness.

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NEW FEES

On October 2, 2020, a new FEE SCHEDULE becomes effective for all Petitions, Applications, etc. filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Schedule was published a few weeks ago, showing the “old” fees, the “new” fees and even the differences between them. But, some increases were not published, they were sort of hidden.

The published schedule shows the fees for an Application for Adjustment of Status – Form I-485 (Green Card) as: OLD FEE - $1,140, NEW FEE - $1,130. No increase. Actually, a reduction of $10. How nice.

But the published schedule does not tell you that if you file, at the same time, together with Form I-485, also Form I-765 (for Employment Authorization), the new fee will be $550, while the old fee was 0 (yes, zero) dollars. And if you also file a Form I-131 (for a Travel Document), the new fee will be $590, while old fee was 0 (yes, zero) dollars. In most cases, the Application for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) is, actually, a package of four (4) applications. We call it “Combined Processing”. The new fee picture for such a “combined processing” per person will be:
Form                 Old Fee                     New Fee
I-130                $     535                      $    560
I-485               $ 1,140                     $ 1,130
I-765               $           0                      $   550
I-131                 $           0                      $   590
Bio                      $       85                       $         0
Total:               $ 1,760                       $ 2,830


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