NEW TRUMP IMMIGRATION POLICY CHANGES:  It is now easier for an application immigration case to be denied and your case potentially referred to Immigration Court.

Trump’s New Policy Changes Increases the Need For Expert Immigration Attorneys to Represent You in Your Immigration Case

Immigration Attorney with Dummit Fradin

This summer, the Trump administration has taken serious steps to curb legal immigration to the United States.  Two policy changes were announced within the last three weeks. These two policy changes taken together make it easier for the US government to initiate removal proceedings against immigrants seeking to change or fix their immigration status.

On June 28, 2018, the Trump administration changed existing United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)’s guidelines for when to refer cases to immigration court when an applicant’s application for an immigration benefit is denied.  Now, many cases, authorities are requiring adjudicating officers to initiate removal proceedings or refer the denial to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Fifteen days later, on July 13, 2018, the Trump administration issued an additional policy change making it easier to deny petitions and applications.

These policy changes are based upon President Trump’s January 25, 2017 executive order 13768, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which articulates who is a priority for removal, which includes most undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Immigrant applicants seeking to legalize their status have to take these policies very seriously because the risks associated with applying have increased.  Now more than ever, it is not advisable to seek an immigration benefit on your own or with only the help of a notario or paralegal.  Times have changed.  You should seek the advice and guidance of an expert immigration attorney even if friends or family have successfully applied for benefits in the past without.   It is also important not to wait to seek to legalize your immigration status if you are able to apply for a benefit.

USCIS is allowing anyone who reviews petitions and immigration applications the discretion to deny the request without first asking for additional evidence or give warning they intend to deny the case and give the applicant first, the opportunity to respond to the adjudicators doubts.  It also allows USCIS to deny the case without first telling why they are denying the case making the process less transparent and more restrictive.  And if an application is denied, there is a possibility that USCIS will then initiate removal proceedings against the applicant.

Specifically, the policy memorandum states, “USCIS will issue an NTA [notice to appear in immigration court] where, upon issuance of an unfavorable decision on an application, petition, or benefit request, the alien is not lawfully present in the United States.” The policy changes take effect September 11, 2018.

Simply stated, the two policy memos read together means that that legal immigration – changing and/or fixing your immigration status – just got harder and more unforgiving.   Now, even a case that once may be considered simple or routine should first seek the advice of an immigration attorney.