Access to Visas: Mission Impossible

by Jose Enrique Perez

Many people come to the United States for different reasons. Family, business, pleasure and even for school. It has always been difficult to get a visa, however, now the Trump administration is making it impossible.

In 2017, about 3,000 visas were rejected. 2018, however, showed a significant increase. The State Department admitted that it had rejected 13,450 immigrant visa applications (not counting non-immigrant visas) in the fiscal year 2018 based on the possibility the applicants could become a “public charge” once they arrive in the U.S.

The rejections represent a 316% increase over the previous year, when only 3,237 immigrant visa applicants were turned away. Not only the Trump Administration is sweeping immigrants in the United States; now, he is also making sure people don’t come. That reminds me a heavily quoted statement made by the President when he was discussing TPS (Temporary Protected Status) when he said he did not want people coming here from “sh**hole” countries.

The spike in denials follows Trump administration changes to the State Department consular guidance. The changes broadened the scope of who could be refused a visa based on the likelihood the person may require public assistance.

In January 2018, the department instructed consular officers to consider the past or current receipt of any type of public assistance when deciding whether a person could become a public charge. Previously, the officers had been told only to consider two types of benefits: cash assistance or long-term institutionalized care paid by the government.

We cannot even imagine the consequences of a change in policy regarding public charge and applications for visa for immigrants and non-immigrants alike in the United States.

Internally in the United States, Trump’s proposed public charge rule, which was published in the Federal Register in October of 2018, would allow immigration officers to deny green cards to immigrants deemed likely to receive a wide range of government benefits. Additionally, the measure would subject temporary visitors to increased scrutiny. This proposal has received wide opposition not only from Democrats, but also from businesses, media, academia, immigrant organizations, among others.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about the new immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with representation before immigration courts, USCIS or ICE. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 120 East Washington Street, Suite 925, Syracuse, New York 13202. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the May edition.