2023’s Expected Changes to US Immigration
In the year ahead, you can expect various changes to US immigration, including fee hikes, reduction of visa backlogs, and new border policies.
It goes without saying that 2022 was a pretty intense year for immigration policy reforms and problems related to border security. Heading into 2023, a lot of these issues are still unsolved. Regardless, immigration in the US seems to be boosting as the country continues to lift COVID-19 restrictions. Let’s see what are the complications and improvements we are expecting for US immigration this year;
Challenges brought on by Comprehensive Immigration Reform
As per the legislative challenges of 2022, comprehensive immigration reform is expected to be put on hold for 2023. Congress seems divided since Republicans gained control of the House in January. As a result, Congress might not be able to implement any notable changes to the immigration system this year.
The Republican agenda seems more concerned about the Border issues. Hence, the House led by Republicans is not going to support immigration proposals that are not in line with maintaining strict border security. The new Speaker of the House also claimed that he won’t be considering any immigration bills if they don’t help with the border security issue. The new bills in 2023 are expected to address the border crisis while renewing the immigration system.
The EAGLE Act, which is a recently rejected immigration proposal put forward by a group of Bipartisan senators, would have allowed DACA holders an opportunity to seek citizenship. Plus, it would have also added billions of dollars to deal with border security issues.
Reports suggest that Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North California and Democratic Sen. Krysten Sinema of Arizona agreed to a deal when lawmakers could not pass any helpful immigration reform in 2022. The EAGLE Act did not get the intended support in Congress, and it was considered a final chance to fulfill immigration promises in the new year. The failure of the EAGLE Act is the prime example of how valuable immigration progress is halted due to Partisan disagreements, and this will probably continue in 2023.
Border Policy and Enforcement are also Uncertain
There was not any impressive progress concerning border issues in 2022, and a mismanaged asylum system is probably going to continue in 2023.
It is safe to say that the controversial Trump-era policy, Title 42, will remain enforced in 2023, especially after its abolishment has been temporarily delayed by the US Supreme Court under Biden’s administration.
Moreover, there are rumors that the upcoming border policies in 2023 are going to be similar to the ones introduced under the former administration. Future plans are going to be unfavorable for migrants seeking asylum at the US-Mexican Border.
While there have been no official statements, a few government officials have confirmed that the Biden administration is cooking up plans to restrain border crossings. These include the acceleration of asylum screenings for migrants under the custody of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which is going to put a limit on the number of migrants approaching a port of entry for asylum. Migrants who do not opt for another country to first seek asylum will also be turned away. Another regulation is going to be similar to the transit ban imposed in 2019 under Trump’s administration.
Immigration legislators and advocates are going to closely monitor the moves of Biden’s administration in the coming months. Time will tell whether the existing administration resorts to Trump-era border policies to put an end to migrant crossings and deal with political pressure, or introduces new measures to help the country’s asylum system.
New Adjustments to the Public Charge Concerning the Green Card Application Process
For those who are unaware, Public Charge is an immigration policy that determines the eligibility of Green Card applicants based on their likelihood of depending on government benefits in the future. This was a pretty controversial topic during Trump’s administration. However, the public charge rule has been officially altered since 1999. A public charge section was added to the latest version of the Green Card application form (Form I-485) on 23 December 2022. This is going to affect the way in which USCIS officers process applications this year.
The latest version of Form I-485 contains a few similarities to the Trump administration’s ‘Declaration of Self-Sufficiency’ form, which was discontinued. In case, an applicant confirms to avail the public charge, they would have to answer more questions related to their household size, income, usage of government benefits, and education history.
While the new rule demands applicants disclose more details regarding their financial standing, the USCIS is not expecting any major denials due to this rule. Immigration advocates are going to closely monitor the effects of the new policy on Green Card applications in 2023.
Dealing with Visa and Citizenship Backlog
According to a study, the number of immigrants considering US citizenship is increasing after dropping during the pandemic. Research suggests that over 900,000 migrants were granted US citizenship in 2022.
In addition to this, immigration levels and US travel are returning. Another report proves that the number of individuals getting Green cards is increasing along with the number of international students, tourists, and other migrant categories since last year.
These increments in visa and citizenship approvals are going to continue in the new year. Officials from the State Department claimed that the number of temporary visas is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023 as the entire process has been improved. The department has also planned to reallocate cases across consular posts to deal with the growing backlogs while waiving in-person interviews for specific visa categories in order to reduce processing times.
USCIS will also introduce internal process updates in the coming year. As per the progress report of 2022, USCIS took measures to optimize its operations in 2023, which included the implementation of premium processing for certain petition types and simplifying some forms to speed up the processing of work permits, status adjustments, and citizenship. Plus, biometric requirements for specific visa applications have also been reduced.
Government Filing Fees To Increase Drastically
Government filing fees have been unchanged for six years, but this year, Biden’s administration has plans to increase various immigration application fees. USCIS primarily gets its funds through filing fees, and it is supposed to review the immigration fee structure every two years. However, no changes have been introduced since 2016.
In the first week of January 2023, a fee proposal was issued by USCIS aimed at lowering costs for citizenship applicants and low-income migrants whose applications are finalized. This proposal comes after Biden’s administration promised to lift barriers faced by citizenship applicants. Fees concerning such applications will increase by 5% only.
While reducing barriers for citizenship applicants and low-income migrants, the updated fee structure is going to significantly increase fees for the majority of employment-based visas and Green Card applications. Green card application costs would increase from $1,225 to $1,540. USCIS is also going to charge for the travel permit and optional work forms. These forms enable applicants to travel and work in the US while their Green Card applications are sent for processing or allowed to be filed.
Employment-based visa application costs, including the H-1B and EB-5 visas, are going to increase drastically.
After publishing the proposal, the administration is going to wait 60 days to receive public comments. USCIS will issue the finalized rule and a timeline for implementing the updated fee structure after thoroughly reviewing public comments.
This is the end of today’s blog update. We hope you found this blog useful. Please don’t forget to support us by subscribing to our newsletter and sharing this blog with your friends and family on Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter.