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Rule change making legal immigration harder

Those who are hoping to immigrate to California from Mexico may be denied a visa if they are deemed to be a potential drain on the United States government. One man was refused a spousal visa because the government believed that he could become a public charge. This was despite the fact that he had a guaranteed job paying him $18 per hour as well as a relative who pledged to provide financial support if necessary.

That relative made $90,000 per year, which was well above the requirement that a sponsor make 125 percent of the poverty level. The denial was the result of a change to the State Department's foreign affairs manual that went into effect in January 2018. According to government officials, these changes are not subject to judicial review. However, critics say it is nothing more than an attempt to change immigration policy without the need to go through a public comment process.

A lawsuit was filed in a Maryland federal court saying that the change was based on antipathy to immigrants. The change in policy has had a significant impact on Mexicans who are trying to enter the United States. Since the rule change went into effect, there have been 11 percent fewer Mexican immigrant visas issued. That was compared to a 4.6 percent drop overall.

There are many ways that an individual may enter the country legally. For instance, he or she may claim to be a refugee or make an asylum claim. Those who are related to American citizens may also be allowed to obtain permanent resident or similar legal status. An attorney may be able to represent an individual in his or her quest to obtain such status in a timely manner.

Source: Reuters, "Denials of U.S. immigrant visas skyrocket after little-heralded rule change", Yaganeh Torbati, 04/15/2019

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