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In December of 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (th Circuit) ruled against the “Public Charge” rules initiated by the Trump administration. Many critics argued that the new regulations essentially amounted to a “wealth test” for immigrants seeking a green card or entrance into the United States. Many states also argued that it would discourage immigrants from seeking public assistance when needed, thus overburdening states.

The changes to the public charge rule were enacted to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for an immigrant using certain public resources to get a green card or gain admission into the United States. The Trump Administration “changed” the public charge rules by expanding the meaning of a “public charge” to include non-cash public benefits that were not previously considered.

Under the most recent Public Charge rules, immigrants using or “more likely than not” to use specific public benefits like non-emergency federally funded Medicaid, “Section 8” housing assistance, “SNAP” benefits, etc. for 12 months, in total, over the span of three years would be ineligible for legal permanent residency.

An “I-130,” otherwise more formally known as a “Petition for Alien Relative,” is the preliminary document that starts the immigration process for a relative to get legal status in the United States. An I-130 petition or family-based petition can be sought by a child, spouse, brother, sister, or a parent.

When filing for a family member, whether as an immediate relative or under a family-based preference category, it’s important to remember that there’s a deadline to apply for a “green card” after the I-130 is approved. It’s also important to understand the general process, especially when adjusting status (interviewing in the U.S.) versus consular processing (interviewing at a U.S. consulate).

Waiting for a Visa Number

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As schools close and streets empty, the COVID-19 pandemic is testing the limits of modern society. The virus poses a unique threat to incarcerated individuals (including those held in immigration detention facilities) who are at increased risk of serious illness or death due to the coronavirus. As the virus spreads, lawyers across the United States have been filing habeas corpus lawsuits challenging the weak response of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to the spread of the virus.

Habeas Corpus Lawsuits During COVID-19

Immigrant child with mask
Habeas corpus is an ancient legal doctrine dating back to the signing of the Magna Carta in England in 1215 that stands for the proposition that the government cannot imprison a person indefinitely without showing cause for such detention.

Girl waving US Flag
On September 4, 2020, in a case styled Gomez v. Trump, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted a legal challenge to the Trump Administration\u2019s decision to deny visas to persons who won the right to apply for lawful permanent resident status in the United States through the diversity visa lottery program. In the ruling, the court directed the Trump Administration to immediately process the visa applications of all persons that were selected under the lottery program in 2020. The decision marks a significant victory for winners that were previously notified by the Trump Administration that their applications for a green card would be denied.

What Is the Visa Lottery?

The diversity immigrant visa program, also commonly referred to as the “green card lottery,” is a government program that randomly selects applicants (winners) who apply through a lottery program for the right to permanently live and work in the United States. The program is administered through the United States Department of State and was established through the Immigration Act of 1990.

Biden for President
With the 2020 election having just ended and with former Vice-President Joseph Biden appearing to be headed towards victory as the next President of the United States, many immigrants might be wondering what it all means for them. Given the stark political contrast between Mr. Biden and soon to be former President Donald Trump, the impact of this election upon the lives of millions of immigrants and non-immigrants alike will undoubtedly be profound.

During the past four years President Trump made a restrictive immigration policy the cornerstone of his administration. There was not a week that went by during the Trump Administration when there was not some news about an initiative or policy intended to restrict or curb immigration to the United States. President Trump’s Senior Advisor on immigration policy, Stephen Miller, proclaimed a second term for Trump would mean a much more aggressive immigration policy. With the results of the 2020 election favoring a President Biden, it appears Mr. Miller’s hopes will be dashed.


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