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Biden and immigration: what important decisions did the president make in a month and a half of work

The first month and a half of the Joe Biden administration was devoted to the pandemic and immigration. The 46th president has signed numerous immigration decrees and has prepared several important bills in this area. ForumDaily asked immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova to take stock of Biden's immigration decisions at the moment and analyze how they will affect Russian-speaking immigrants.

Photo: Shutterstock

“First of all, the very attitude of the new administration is very different from that of the previous one. If the Trump administration tried to present immigrants as people who could pose a threat to American society, then the Biden administration, on the contrary, is pursuing a policy emphasizing that immigrants are valuable to the United States, ”Muratova said.

Now let's put all the solutions on the shelves.

What Biden did

Return of the old (2008 version) citizenship test

December 1, 2020 began to operate New Citizenship Test Prepared by the Trump Administration... It was longer and more complex than the previous version.

Infographics: ForumDaily

The Biden administration decided it was too difficult and in February returned the 2008 version... However, realizing that some of the immigrants have already begun preparing for the new version, the White House has provided for a transition period until April 19, 2021. Until that day, the applicant can choose which version of the test he wants to take. After April 19, 2021, USCIS will only ask questions for the 2008 test, regardless of whether you applied for naturalization before April 19 or after that date.

This decision is important for legal immigrants from absolutely all countries if they plan to apply for US citizenship.

Change of priority for deportation

Biden administration changed the priority to deportation, and some illegal immigrants can now breathe easy.

“In practice, this means that they have not only compiled a priority list of categories of illegal immigrants who need to be deported, but also this applies to those who are now in places of detention or are going to seek asylum at the border, they will also be assessed according to the new rules when making decisions about their detention or granting them the right to await decisions on their cases at large, ”Muratova explained.

The Biden administration intends to target immigration police resources to only three priority categories:

  1. Suspected of terrorism or espionage.
  2. Individuals who pose a threat to national security because they have been charged with serious crimes or crimes as part of an organized criminal group.
  3. People who entered or tried to enter the United States illegally after November 1, 2020.

“This does not mean that all other illegal immigrants will be given some kind of status, but it means that for some time they can live in peace in the country,” Muratova explained.

This decision affects only “our” illegal immigrants, of whom there is a relatively small percentage in the United States compared to immigrants from Latin America.

Changing the procedure for submitting documents to immigration courts

“Most nonimmigrant courts in the US already accept documents electronically. But we still submit documents to the immigration courts on paper, print them, send them by mail, only a few forms can be submitted electronically. Finally, modernization came to the immigration courts. This will make it easier for lawyers, immigrants and court officials. Now we will be able to promptly collect and submit documents, ”Muratova explained the essence of this decision.

The lawyer recalled that there are very long queues in the immigration courts, clarifying that these delays, in fact, are often caused by people whose cases are pending there. For example, people submit documents late, then ask to postpone the hearing, etc.

“The administration of each president is looking for some way out of this situation and ways to more efficiently organize the work of immigration courts. Therefore, the Biden administration issued a new decree: now all documents, all evidence, lists of witnesses - all this must be filed with the court 30 days before the individual hearing. That is, if you did not submit it 30 days before your individual hearing, then you will not have a second chance, you cannot bring these documents later, and you cannot add them at the hearing itself, ”Muratova clarified.

She stressed that it is necessary to understand the difference between the immigration court and the immigration department. If you have an asylum interview at the Immigration Department, you can add new evidence right up to the interview. In court - no: anything you want to present at a hearing must be submitted 30 days in advance.

“Therefore, if you are working with a lawyer, then please contact in advance. The documents must be prepared and executed properly before filing with the court, and this takes time, ”advised Muratova.

Cancellation of the ban on the issuance of immigrant visas and green cards

This ban, in effect since April 2020, restricted much of legal immigration to the United States, including family reunification and entry into the country of winners of the green card lottery. 24 February Biden canceled it, and now these categories of visas can again be obtained or entered on them in the United States.

"At the same time, the ban on the issuance of nonimmigrant work visas is still in effect. But until the end of its validity - March 31 - there is already a little, I hope, the Biden administration will not extend it, ”- said immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova.

Immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova. Photos from the personal archive

Cancellation of the public charge rule

This rule, introduced by the Trump administration in 2019, could have served as a reason for denying both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas due to the immigrant's perceived inability to support himself in the United States and the potential threat that he could benefit from social assistance and benefits in America. Trump then expanded the concept of "social burden" to include those immigrants who could potentially use any benefits.

Trump's expanded requirements have now been canceled... And the rule of "social burden" itself was again narrowed down. It now covers individuals who are “primarily dependent” on government assistance, which means that such assistance provides a person with more than half of the income. In addition, only cash benefits, such as temporary assistance for needy families or supplemental social security income, are now counted, not the Food Stamp Benefits and Medical Benefits that the Trump administration took into account.

Cancellation of Trump's "Buy American, Hire Americans" decree

This document gave priority to America as a nation. I.e if the question arose whether to hire an American or an immigrant, then it was necessary to choose an American... If the employer insisted on hiring an immigrant, then it was much more difficult to justify this than before the adoption of the decree.

Biden canceled it.

"Now, if the level of applicants is the same, then the employer can hire whoever he wants, and not necessarily give priority to American citizens," - said the lawyer.

Cancellation of visa restrictions that Trump imposed on 13 countries with a predominantly Muslim population

He repealed Proclamations 9645 and 9983, which restricted citizens of 12 countries from entering the United States: Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Tanzania, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The President also directed the Department of State to resume visa processing for the affected countries and quickly develop a proposal to redress and remedy the injuries caused by the ban, especially for those stuck in the denial process and those who have been denied immigrant visas.

However, it is too early to talk about any specifics. There are no clear conditions and mechanisms of action for those who were previously denied a visa due to the ban, the State Department is studying the situation.

Maintaining and strengthening protection for the "dreamers"

Biden signed DACA Reinstatement Ordinancewhich the Trump administration has contested and tried to undo. He also called on Congress "to pass a law providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for people who came to this country as a child and lived, worked, contributed to our country for many years without any immigration status."

This is an important decision, but it does not really matter for Russian-speaking immigrants. Most of the “dreamers” ended up in the United States when their parents crossed the land border, so they are mostly citizens of Latin America. By official data for 2017, There are practically no “ours” in the DACA program, 80% are Mexicans, then Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

What Biden would like to do, but it's not that easy

The path to citizenship for illegal immigrants

According to the bill proposed by the President, persons residing in the United States on January 1, 2021 without legal status will have a five-year path to temporary legal status or a green card.if they pass background checks, pay taxes, and meet other basic requirements.

“For these five years they will not be given legal status in the United States, this is not a green card or citizenship. This is a kind of postponement of deportation or parole. If during this period a person does not break the law, then after these 5 years he can receive a green card, ”Muratova explained.

If after that he decides to obtain citizenship, he will need to wait another three years and not break the law.

For some immigrants, this process will be faster. So-called dreamers (illegal immigrants brought to the US by children) as well as agricultural workers and people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) can get a green card right away if they work, study, or meet other requirements.

“I want to emphasize once again that this is only a draft law so far. For him to gain the force of law, he must be supported in Congress, where he needs, in addition to Democrats, to enlist the support of at least 9 Republicans. It is difficult to imagine that the project will take place in the form in which it is proposed at the moment. In the process of its approval in Congress, the requirements are likely to become tougher, ”said Ekaterina Muratova.

More chances of winning the green card lottery

Biden proposes to increase the number of green card lottery winners to 80 thousand per year (now 55 thousand are taken away annually). This proposal is in the same immigration bill as citizenship for illegal immigrants, and would require the same level of legislative support to pass.

What Biden hasn't done that could positively impact our immigrants

The rule for the issuance of work visas (H1B) has not been canceled, based on the applicant's salary

This rule is, in fact, will leave applicants with lower salaries without visas... Its entry into force was postponed, but the decision itself was not canceled.

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