These 5 Potential Changes Could Affect Your Immigration Status in 2020


As an election year and the start of a new decade, 2020 will bring big changes for more reasons than one. The new year will also offer some possible developments in visas and employment-based immigration – changes that you should be aware of.

1. Increased USCIS Fees

Unfortunately, applying for a visa will get more expensive in 2020. A new proposal from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase certain base fees by 22% and require some companies to pay an additional $4,000 every time they extend a visa. Agricultural workers will also face new limits and increased fees.

2. Changes to the H-1B Visa Program

A new, electronic lottery system will become active and official on March 1, 2020. These changes may help certain applicants get a better shot at legal immigration, but they will also restrict those with “specialty occupations,” allowing only the “best and brightest” to live and work in the country legally.

Businesses may also have a more difficult time challenging visa denials in court.

3. DACA Decision

The Trump administration’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is currently under review in the U.S. Supreme Court, which will likely issue a ruling in June of 2020.

Ending DACA could lead 30,000 DACA recipients to lose their jobs every month and cause a $460.3 billion drop in the national gross domestic product, in addition to ruining countless lives. Those currently protected by or seeking protection with DACA are especially vulnerable to the upcoming decision and any resulting legislation. Fortunately, changes may be put on hold due to the election.

4. Changes for University Students

Immigrants who study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) or engage in Optional Practical Training (OPT) could have their pathways to work in the United States diminished in 2020.

A lawsuit filed by U.S.-born tech workers, combined with a regulatory plan by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could cause the program to be altered or eliminated. Another proposal could limit the length of time international students are allowed to stay in the U.S.

5. H-4 Work Permits At Risk

Traditionally, spouses of workers with H-1B visas (or those with specialty occupations) have been allowed to live and work in the United States. This program may be rescinded in 2020, according to a longtime promise from the Trump administration and a Homeland Security proposal that is currently under review.

This change could put more than 120,000 people out of work.

Key Takeaways

Like the 5 changes that affected immigrants in 2019, the potential adjustments outlined above reflect a more xenophobic approach to legal immigration and work visas.

As such, those pursuing legal status in the United States should act sooner rather than later. Further, family-based immigration currently seems less “under fire” than employment-based immigration and may be a better, more permanent option.

To make a plan for lasting, legal immigration to the U.S. in 2020, please contact Smith Law Offices, LLC at (636) 400-1177.

You can also schedule a confidential consultation online.

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