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Trump Administration Introduces New Regulation Limiting Number of Green Cards and Visas Issued: Set for October 2019

On August 12th, 2019, the Trump administration released details of a new regulation that will make it easier for the US government to reject green card and visa applications and limit the number of immigrants entering and staying in the United States. The rule will  target immigrants applying for a temporary visa or American Green Card, who are currently, or have used, government assistance.

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Denying Applicants Who Have Received Public Assistance

The new rule allows  US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reject applicants for temporary or permanent visas who receive public assistance. Public assistance includes  social benefits such as most forms of Medicaid, housing vouchers and food stamps. Using Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are also grounds for refusal under the regulation.

It was reported that 6.5 percent of people participating in Medicaid are immigrants, with 87 percent of recipients beingnative born. The same can be seen for food stamps, where immigrants account for only 8.8 percent of those participating.While immigrants make up a very small portion of those receiving assistance, the US government wants to ensure that “people who are immigrating to [the United States] don’t become public burdens”. 

The implementation of the regulation is already being met with backlash from immigrant-rights advocates across the country, and is expected to be met with legal action. 

Other Restrictions In Place For US Visa Applicants

US Immigration  officers are now required to evaluate, at a minimum, an applicant’s age, health, family status, assets, resources and financial status, as well as their education and skills. Applicants will also need to submit three years of federal tax returns and history of employment.

These additional requirements, along with the new public assistance threshold, will make it considerably more difficult for immigrants to qualify for green cards and temporary visas. the Migration Policy Institute, estimated that more than half of family-based green card applicants could be disqualified.

Continuing to Limit US Immigration

The rule delivered Monday is one of several immigration regulations introduced under the Trump administration, and continues to tighten restrictions on who may enter the US. Earlier this year, we saw restrictions brought to the processing system for H-1B visas, including the suspension of premium processing and delays in waiting times.  In April, the USCIS revealed that they had completed their selection of  H-1B visa applications accepted for 2020, leaving those qualified without options for US immigration until 2020. 

Furthermore, on May 16th , President Donald Trump announced a new plan to redistribute the majority of future Green Card holders to young, skilled workers, while restricting the criteria for family class immigrants. Uncertainty now arises for green card applicants by families, many who are still waiting to be processed. 

While the US government continues  to introduce ways to reduce the number of immigrants entering and staying in the United States, Canada has committed to growing its population with a plan of welcoming more than one million newcomers in the next three years. This plan has increased its targets for skilled foreign workers, as well as family sponsorships. While immigration to the United States becomes more uncertain, Canada pushes forward to ensure a faster, more efficient immigration system


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