Administration Proposes Significant Changes to Deportation Orders & Delaying Path to Citizenship
A number of proposed and permanent regulations released in late February will affect the ability for immigrants to obtain citizenship green cards and visas. First, one proposed regulation would increase the cost to go to court to challenge deportation orders by nearly tenfold to $1,000, making deportation appeals much more difficult. The same proposal would also require asylum-seekers to pay a $50 fee to have their cases heard in court, a service that has historically been available, regardless of one’s ability to pay. Indeed, these proposed fees – particularly for those seeking asylum – arguably violate the country’s legal obligation to provide immigrants who are fleeing dangerous conditions a fair hearing.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS has also made a number of changes. The branch has sharply increased fees for immigrants and visa applicants, whereby green card fees would increase by almost $1,000 to a total of almost $3,000 and the cost for naturalizations of the citizens would increase to more than $1,100. The branch also changed one of the essential requirements to obtaining US citizenship through naturalization by adjusting the definition of what constitutes “continuous residence and physical presence in the US” for a certain amount of time.
Continuous Residence and Physical Presence in the US
Historically, immigrants had to demonstrate continuous residence and physical presence in the US for a certain amount of time before submitting an application, which was usually at least five years prior to applying for citizenship. However, in late February, USCIS specifically addressed the effect of breaks in continuity of residence when it comes to eligibility for naturalization, where there have been absences of more than six months, but less than one year during the required continuous residence period. The policy dictates that, in applying for naturalization, immigrants must demonstrate that they have either resided continuously in the US for five years before applying, or three years in the case of qualified spouses US citizens. Pursuant to the new policy, an immigrant who has been absent for more than six months but less than a year must overcome the presumption of the broken the continuity of their residence and establish a new period of continuous residence, which depends on their basis for naturalization.
How This Will Affect Immigrants
Those who are likely to be hardest hit by charge to appeal deportation orders are those who are in immigration detention, as they may not even have the opportunity to file an appeal. In addition, anyone who has interrupted their residence here in the US for more than six months will likely have significant difficulties relying on this period of continuous residence to establish naturalization.
It is also worth noting that permanent residents who apply for citizenship after December of this year will face a more challenging test, whereby they will have to prove that they have basic proficiencies in English, as well as a knowledge of US history and government. USCIS has also expanded the list of behaviors that disqualify individuals from being considered to have good moral character.
Speak with an Experienced Immigration Attorney
If you have any questions or concerns about these new policies, consider consulting an experienced immigration attorney who is well-versed in both federal and state law. Contact NYC immigration attorney Mark I. Cohen today to set up a consultation and find out more.