New Asylum Restrictions and EB-5 Visa Fee Increases

Published on: Aug 07, 2019, Last Edited: Aug 07, 2019 | Tags: USA Visa Restrictions, USA Visa Requirements, USA Visa Fees

President Trump announces that Guatemala will shortly sign agreement restricting applications for asylum in the United States

In a move that immigrant rights lawyers claim is cruel and unlawful, Donald Trump announced last week that Guatemala will sign an agreement to restrict the numbers of applicants seeking asylum in the US.

Migrants entering the country, including those from Honduras and Salvador, will be required to claim asylum in Guatemala, as a “safe third country” instead. Amnesty International and other human rights groups joined in condemning the move as outrageous. However, it is still not clear how the deal will be effected as the institutional court of Guatemala has allowed several injunctions to pass that will prevent the country’s government signing up to a deal before it is agreed by the Guatemalan Congress.

The Guatemalan government plans to begin issuing work visas to agricultural labourers so that migrants can enter the US legally. However, US critics of the plans including the foreign affairs committee chief, Eliot Engel, says that Guatemala is plainly not a safe enough country for asylum seekers, as international law requires.

According to the Washington Post, none of the 259 asylum applications received by Guatemala over the past year was approved. President Trump hopes to sign similar deals with Honduras and Nicaragua shortly.

US EB-5 visas scheduled to become more expensive

The number of applicants to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa programme looks set to fall in November when the amount that applicants are required to invest rises form £$1m to $1.8m.For areas of high unemployment, the amount will rise from $500,00 to $900,000. Under this programme, which is designed to boost the creation of jobs in the United States, investors are automatically eligible for a green card.

Fewer investors will be able to satisfy the minimum amount required and this will particularly affect entrepreneurs from China and India. Anyone considering submitting an application for an EB5 visa should be aware that they should allow up to 2 months for the source of their finances to be verified, and there is likely to be a surge in applications before the new ruling comes into force on November 21st 2019. There is an annual cap of 10,00 on EB-5 visas, with each country being allocated 700 places annually.

The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) had previously proposed that the amount invested in TEAs (Targeted Employment Areas) should rise to $1.35m but it was finally decided to set it at $900.000. Hever, the new rules mean that any city or town with more than 20,000 inhabitants will now qualify as a TEA.

Critics see the EB-5 visa as a way of allowing wealthy people to buy their way into the States, and rather than it being made more expensive would prefer to see it being scrapped altogether.

New guide to U Visa Law Enforcement released by USCIS assists agencies in supporting victims of crimes

To provide guidance and helpful information to law enforcement and other agencies, USCIS (the US Citizenship and Immigration Services) has just released the new U Visa Law Enforcement Resource Guide. This will help to ensure that all the agencies playing a crucial role in the adjudication process for U visas have access to the resources they require to properly complete the certification of immigrants who are victims of crimes.

The United States U or U nonimmigrant status visa is available to certain crime victims who may have suffered physical or mental abuse and who are willing and able to help officials in their prosecution of criminal activities. In October 2000, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was passed by Congress and the U visa was created at the same time.

USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli states that the new resource offers best practice guidance and seeks to make it easier for law enforcement officers and officials of other certifying agencies to ensure that they provide the required certification for U visas. It also aims to reduce abuse and fraud of the U visa programme by adjudicating petitions more effectively.

Previously, the U visa guide also included information related to the T visa programme, applicable to victims of human trafficking or modern-day slavery. A separate guide to requirements for the T visa programme is planned for publication in the future.

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