Immigration was the spotlight issue of 2015. Everyone was talking about it from politicians to the media to the general public. Unfortunately, the discussions were often negative and focused on keeping people out of the U.S. Even though 2015 was bad for immigration policy in a political sense, legally there were a lot of positive changes mixed in with some disappointments.
Here are some of the top developments of the year:
New Immigration priorities set by the Obama Administration in November 2014 are set to begin in January and May 2015. Among the changes are new rules to temporarily shield from deportation many of the 5 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Unfortunately, they were postponed by a lawsuit enjoining U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from implementing the immigration reform. This litigation is still pending and won’t be resolved until 2016.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears the case of Kerry v. Din, in which a U.S. citizen wife sued over the denial of a visa for her immigrant spouse. The issue was whether the wife had standing to sue. Unfortunately, the Court decided later in the year that she did not have the right to sue because she did not have a right to live with her spouse and bring him to the U.S.
The Board of Immigration Appeals issues a decision finding that children born out of wedlock may qualify as “legitimated children” for purposes of deriving naturalization through a parent. This is good news for many families since this issue arises regularly. The decision held that if a child comes from a country that doesn’t distinguish between out of wedlock and wedlock children for citizenship, then the distinction wouldn’t matter in the U.S. either and the child could derive citizenship through their U.S. citizen parent.
The Department of Labor announces it will begin to certify U-visa applications for victims of criminal exploitation in the work place. Originally focusing on victims of human trafficking, the U-visa program has begun to find broader application in other contexts. Those who qualify can get legal residence in the U.S for an initial period of three years.
New York Immigration Law Center Blog launches.
Next week we will cover the top developments for the rest of 2015.
If you have an immigration question, please contact us for assistance.