2019 has again shown our current administration’s continued dedication to address our immigration system. Many continue to be filled with more anxiety and confusion than they have ever felt before, and not without reason. Although the future is uncertain, our past is not, and there have been some changes in 2019 that are worth reviewing.
First, as of June 8, 2016, USCIS implemented a new parole program for Filipino World War II Veterans. The parole program allows family members of certain Filipino WWII veterans, who have approved family-based visa petitions, to receive parole to come to the U.S. while they wait for their visa to become available. As you may know, a visa can sometimes take more than 20 years to become available for Filipino family members, so this was great news for those family members, their spouse and children. However, in August of 2019, under the Trump Administration, USCIS announced its intention to terminate this program. USCIS has promised that current applications will be completed, and that current parolees will continue to maintain that status. However, the future of the program is unknown.
Another notable change in 2019 was the update on what it means to be a public charge to the U.S. The current rule states that someone who is likely to become “primarily dependent” on the government for income support is a public charge. Now, a public charge is a person who receives any number of public benefits for more than an aggregate of 12 months over any 36-month period of time. Each benefit used counts toward the 12-month calculation. For example, if an applicant receives two different benefits in one month, that would be considered two-months of benefits. Whether or not a person will have health insurance has also been introduced as a factor in determining who will be a public charge.
Although 2019 was filled with bad news, it is now a new year. More importantly, it is an election year. For those of you who are eligible to naturalize, your vote is going to make a difference. Make it a resolution for 2020 to speak to an attorney about your rights, and whether or not this would be a good time for you to naturalize.