Over the last few weeks, there has been significant coverage of immigration in the media due to the government shutdown as well as President Trump's bold agenda to tighten border security and restrict immigration. While much attention has been given to the fate of "Dreamers" and their ability to acquire permanent residency, the welfare of their undocumented parents as well as family immigration, in general, has been given short shrift. To state things plainly, there is a movement underway to drastically limit family immigration. Under President Trump's Framework on Immigration Reform and Border Security, the Administration is seeking to curb the legal migration of family members and limit visas to only the nuclear family. Under the its definition, only spouses and minor children of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents are considered eligible to apply for a green card. Parents, adult children 21 years or older, as well as siblings have been relegated to the category of "extended family," which traditionally would encompass cousins, aunts and uncles. In short, the following preference categories would be eliminated under President Trump's plan:
· 1: Adult Children of US Citizens
· 2B: Unmarried Adult Children of Lawful Permanent Residents
· 3: Married Children of US Citizens
· 4: Brothers and Sisters of US Citizens
It is important to note that no such legislation has been passed yet. Currently, Congress appears deadlocked and its recent open debate on immigration proved nugatory. Nevertheless, there is legitimate concern from many quarters that the current preference categories are endangered and may be sacrificed in a gambit to secure the future of Dreamers.
Given the uncertainty and unpredictability of immigration developments, US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents intending on filing for family members may want to strongly consider filing now. Although some of the backlogs are staggeringly long, it is nevertheless critical to save one's place in the queue, especially if some measure is eventually passed that restricts immigration to nuclear families. According to the White House website, any changes would apply prospectively, not retroactively-so cases already filed would presumably not be affected. If anything, processing times might theoretically be accelerated due to the spigot being shut.
Of course, eligibility for and any potential bars to permanent residence must still be evaluated at the outset prior to filing. Since individuals in preference categories are not treated the same as those in the "Immediate Relative" category, the priority date may not yet be current. Additionally, for those considering adjustment of status under a preference category, there may be other issues such as unauthorized employment or violation of status. And in all cases, whether pursuing adjustment of status or consular processing, there may be grounds of inadmissibility that may apply. Common grounds include but are not limited to unlawful presence, criminal convictions, false claims to US Citizenship, and fraud/misrepresentation.
To learn more about how to file for a family member's visa or green card, please contact our office for more information. The above is general information only and not to be relied upon as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship, nor should it be relied upon as advice in lieu of consultation with an attorney.