According to reports published in January by the Associated Press, more than 5,000 adults around the country have submitted immigration petitions to bring underage spouses into the United States. The reports also reveal that 3,000 minors have submitted petitions to bring in older fiancées or spouses. The Trump administration responded to these reports on Feb. 15 by announcing new rules and vowing to scrutinize these and similar applications closely, and this could have an impact on Florida residents.
Employers in Florida and around the country can begin submitting applications for H-1B visas on April 1, but many that do are likely to be disappointed. The H-1B visa is offered to foreign workers who have earned a college degree and possess special skills, but the sheer volume of applications received each year by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services greatly surpasses the number of available visas.
According to Pew Research, about 36 percent of immigrants living in Florida and throughout the United States have a college degree. That translates to about 14.7 million foreigners who have a college degree or other type of advanced degree. In a 2018 survey, 78 percent of American adults said they supported highly skilled immigrants coming to the United States. The U.S. offers four pathways for these immigrants to obtain legal status.
A report issued on Jan. 14 said that over 40,000 immigration cases were canceled because of the government shutdown. This estimate is based on the number of hearings that had been scheduled in Florida immigration courts and others throughout the country. The figure was difficult to verify because both judges and employees of the Executive Office for Immigration Review had been furloughed because of the shutdown.
The immigration system, with courts located in Florida and throughout the United States, is notorious for extensive backlogs. Since the government shutdown that began in late 2018 started, the problem has only become worse. Court backlogs are growing by approximately 20,000 cases per week, and more than 40,000 hearings have been cancelled according to the Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse.
New asylum seekers in Florida might have their cases heard by immigration authorities before people who have been waiting for years. A policy change by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services known as "last in, first out" was meant to reduce the backlog of asylum cases, but the case log has grown by 10,000 new applications since the the agency initiated the new approach. The switching of priorities has left many people who have already been in the country for years unable to make plans for the future because they might be deported eventually.
In December 2018, the United States and Mexico announced a new immigration plan that will allow many asylum seekers to stay in Mexico until their immigration cases are heard by a judge. However, few details have been released about the plan, leaving immigration officials in Florida and elsewhere confused about how to proceed.
In a major defeat of the Trump Administration's policy banning asylum to migrants who illegally enter United States, conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court's four liberal justices in striking down the ban on December 21, 2018. The Trump administration had instituted the ban the preceding November, prompting a federal judge in California and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District to declare the ban unconstitutional.
On Dec. 19, a federal judge ruled that new Trump administration policies denying immigrants the option of claiming asylum due to gang violence or domestic violence violate U.S. immigration laws. The ruling, which was issued in a U.S. District Court, orders the government to cease using the new rules and to stop deporting immigrants from Florida and elsewhere without providing credible fear determinations, which are required by existing law.
Officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have proposed a new law that would change the quota system for H-1B petitions. Currently, there is an exemption limit of 20,000 candidates with a U.S. master's degree or higher and a 65,000 limit for all other eligible petitioners. The new law would change the lottery for this quota system in favor of letting more U.S.-educated candidates into Florida and the rest of the country.