1. Petitioning for My Parents in China. How Difficult Will It Be for Them to Pass the Public charge Requirement?
I just became a US citizen and want to apply for my parents in China. I am really concerned because I heard that the Trump administration is making it very hard for persons who do not have much income or assets to immigrate. Currently I am married with two children, and our income level (combined) for the past three years has been around $60,000 annually. We have a house with very little mortgage left on it, and about $25,000 in savings.
Mr. Lee answers,
Under normal circumstances, you would appear to have a good chance of immigrating your parents in the absence of outstanding disabilities on the part of your parents that would require much medical assistance by the government. The public charge rule which went into effect on February 24, 2020, places an onerous burden on petitioners and the people that they sponsor to show more and count a number of factors in deciding the admissibility of people under the rule. This rule during the time of pandemic has been dropped by the government after its recent loss in the District Court in New York. The Department of Homeland Security has issued a memorandum that as long as the ruling is in effect, USCIS will apply the old public charge guidance to any adjustment of status application adjudicated on or after July 29, 2020. The Department of State is also complying with the court’s order and in the process of updating its guidance to consular officers on how to proceed. The situation, however, remains volatile. It remains to be seen whether the court’s ruling will stand and if so, how the public charge law will proceed after the time of pandemic. (I note that under the new public charge rule, you may still be able to immigrate your parents, but would likely have to show much more documentation to do it).
2. What Will Happen to My Labor Certification Green Card Case Since I Was Born in Hong Kong and How Long Will it Take for Me to Immigrate?
I work as a market research analyst under H-1B visa and I took up my employer’s offer to sponsor me for the green card last year because I am from Hong Kong and the company lawyer said that my case would take less than two years if everything went well. Now we hear that because Pres. Trump is mad at China, I am now assigned to China. What does that mean for my case? My priority date is November 2019 and my labor certification application was approved in May 2020. My I-140 petition is now pending with USCIS.
Mr. Lee answers,
On July 14, 2020, Pres. Trump issued Executive Order 13936, “Pres. Trump’s Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization” which among other things would no longer treat Hong Kong as an area having its own immigration quota under US law and instead assign it under China’s immigration visa quota. The State Department is still reviewing the question of whether Hong Kong born individuals can be chargeable to mainland China legally, but that may very well be swept under the rug given the politics of the State Department and that the Secretary is very much in the president’s corner. Currently for the month of August 2020, the visa bulletin final action dates show that China EB-2 for cases requiring an advanced degree or a bachelor’s +5 years experience is only up to cases filed before January 15, 2016, and for cases under EB-3 requiring a baccalaureate degree or two years experience up to February 15, 2017, one year more advanced. It is difficult to know how long it will take for your case under the China quota to become current given the vagaries of immigrant visa counting and the underuse of the numbers in this fiscal year, but given the more advanced state of EB-3, you may wish to file a petition under that category if you have not already done so.
3. Can I Apply for DACA Now That the Supreme Court Ruled That the Program Could Continue?
I qualified in all respects for DACA except that I was not yet 15, the minimum age for applying, when they stopped accepting new applications. I have been continuously in the US since June 15, 2007; was physically present in the country on June 15, 2012; had no lawful status on June 15, 2012; have not committed any crimes; and am still in high school. If I put in a new application at this time, what will happen to it?
Mr. Lee answers,
The Supreme Court decision preserved DACA a in a 5-4 decision in June 2020 as Chief Justice Roberts did not believe that the government had followed legal procedure in trying to stop the program. Although Pres. Trump said in a TV interview on the Hispanic channel Telemundo that he could give a path to citizenship for the Dreamers, his administration has done exactly the opposite in a pending case, Casa de Maryland v. US DHS in which it said last week that new applications would neither be granted nor rejected, and instead held in a bucket pending a policy consideration by DHS; and the last word was a July 28, 2020, memorandum in which DHS said that it would reject all pending and future initial requests, reject all pending and future applications for advance parole for DACA members absent exceptional circumstances, and shorten DACA renewals from two years to one year. This is likely not the final answer, but you may wish to wait and see what happens before putting in a new application at this time.
4. Can You Tell Me if It Will be Safe to Go Into USCIS Offices for Interviews When They Are Scheduled?
I am being petitioned for by my US citizen mother for the green card. I, my wife, and our two kids are here under my H-1B visa. Our priority date finally cleared, and we were scheduled for an adjustment of status interview at the immigration office in April that was canceled because of the pandemic. Now I hear that Immigration will begin to reschedule all the canceled interviews beginning in August. We are very nervous because I and my wife have medical conditions and are scared of catching the coronavirus. Will we be safe in going to the interview?
Mr. Lee answers,
One of the discouraging things that one hears about USCIS these days is its constant complaint that it is running out of money, needs to raise fees, and obtain funding from Congress. The latest is that it will furlough up to 70% of its workforce at the end of August if it has not received relief from Congress. That being the case, the agency probably does not have adequate funding to maintain complete office safety. I doubt that the agency has the ability to wipe down surfaces including chairs and bathrooms every couple hours or the personnel to enforce social distancing in elevators, escalators, hallways, and waiting rooms. You can do a few things to protect yourself such as maintaining your family’s social distance from others; bringing sanitary wipes to clean your own seats; wearing masks and gloves; bringing your own pens, etc. The agency has said that it will space out interviews, mark off seats to maintain distancing, put plexiglass barriers between officers and the public, provide face coverings from people who come without face coverings, and be flexible on rescheduling missed appointments. Hopefully that and other improvements that it may make before your interview along with your own safety precautions will protect you and everyone else with whom you come into contact.