What’s Old is New Again: green cards harder under “new” Trump rule

Trump’s administration has just added another delay to immigrants wanting to get green cards in the US. In a move that, in my opinion, is a wasteful use of resources, USICS announced that certain immigrants will now be required to have in-person interviews.

This is nothing new. But to save on time and money, immigration normally waives the interview requirements for visa holders. H1B employment visa holders in particular have already been heavily vetted before they are issued a visa in the first place. Basically it means that the green card processes will be slowed done for a significant section of immigrants who have already been thoroughly checked, and our already backlogged system will get even more bogged down.

Who is affected by these new green card hoops?

If you are currently holding an employment visa, and were hoping to get a green card this affects you. USICS confirmed that anyone moving from an employment-based visa to lawful permanent residency will now have to have an in-person interview with an immigration officer.  In 2015 alone, approximately 144,000 immigrants were granted lawful permanent residency (green cards) from Employment Visas. Ten thousand of those were in the EB-5 investment visa and entrepreneur category which has a serious list of qualifications along with a hefty price tag for investment, and about 85,000 of those were in the highly skilled worker category. 

How exactly is this going to affect the green card process?

Mostly this is just an administrative hurdle – and an unnecessary one in my opinion. We’ve tried this before, and USCIS basically decided to waive it most of the time in order to save time and money on immigrants who have already been heavily checked. For most people this is just going to be an added headache of getting to an appointment.

The problems?

1)Basic administration issues within the immigration process means that every added hoop can cause problems…even through no fault of the immigrant themselves.

2)If immigration officers begin to nit pick they could open up suspicion where there wasn’t any problem before. The Trump administration rescinded most of the guidelines that were being used by officers for prosecutorial discretion in January 2017. The atmosphere today is more challenging for immigrants.

Every time you have to go in front of an immigration officer it costs time and money, and can bring up issues that were previously reviewed. The new push to enforce means that getting a green card is going to be a bit tougher, with more hurdles, and take that much more time.

But everything is possible, and if you got a visa in the first place, there is a good chance you will still be able to get a green card.

As always, a consultation with a team of experienced attorneys exclusively practicing immigration law is ideal.


Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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