After the elections, a lot of you have expressed your fears about your legal situation, particularly your immigration status in this country. Although the future is unknown there are some points I would like to clarify.
The president´s job is to make sure that laws and regulations are properly applied, but the president himself doesn’t make laws. Laws are discussed, debated and approved in Congress. Most laws are not applied immediately, they are given a specific future date when they start to take effect. I know this sounds very simplistic and idealistic but speculations do not really help at this point.
The reality is that changes can happen at any moment, not only when a new president is elected. The reality is that when a new president takes over, especially when that new president comes from the opposite political party of the incumbent, things tend to change even more.
Presently, changes to immigration law are still up in the air. Rumors say the H1B program will be scrapped, that residents (“green card” holders) can no longer petition relatives, that ALL overstaying aliens will be deported. But these are all RUMORS for now. If ever, the government would need to come up with regulations and some way to implement it, and that takes time.
Here are some of the most common questions I´ve been asked:
CAN THE NEW PRESIDENT CHANGE MY STATUS?
No. You will preserve whatever your status is until the date your visa will expire or if you lose any of the conditions given on your visa. For example, if you are an international student you have to keep studying and if you have an H-1B you have to remain employed.
IF THE LAW CHANGES, WILL MY SITUATION CHANGE?
Yes, of course. But, again, that can happen at any time, not only when a new president is elected. However, as we mentioned before, changes in immigration law take time and normally laws are not applied right away but they come with an effectivity date.
CAN MY GREENCARD BE REVOKED?
Some green cards have conditions, for example, a marriage-based green card is subject to the marriage itself, so if you divorce your spouse before the two-year conditional period ends, you would have to remove the conditions on your green card by yourself (without your spouse) which, depending on the case, might be a challenge. In general, the USCIS has 5 years, after issuance of a green card, to revoke it for a cause (or causes).
That being said, that doesn’t have anything to do with a new president but with how the law is. Changes in the law might rise and that might affect your case. For instance, under the H-1B program, you can change from one company to another, and if you lose your job (because the company closed down or a similar reason) you have a period of time in which you can get a new job and H-1B sponsor. After that time, if you haven’t found a job yet, you will lose your permission to stay in the US to work and will be required to leave the country. If you don’t leave, you will now be considered as remaining illegally in the US. So, if a new regulation passes that reduces the time for you to find a new job, or it doesn’t even allow you to be without a job at any time, obviously, your situation will change.
So, to recap: new laws are proposed all the time especially when a new president and a new Congress are elected. Those laws might affect your case. Those laws normally take some time to take effect. If you are thinking about changing your status, visa… you should start as soon as possible under current, existing laws. This is not a guarantee of protection for the future, just a guarantee for the present, under current law.
One more thing and this is something that unfortunately a lot of people have come to me too late for: DO NOT LOSE YOUR STATUS. To know more, please click here or watch the video below.
For more legal inquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact me and set an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org