Immigration News & Updates during COVID-19

Amidst the pandemic in May 2020, three immigrations news were announced, which directly affected immigrants in America. First, the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act was proposed, allowing immigrants in the medical field to get permanent residency much quicker than in the past. Second, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has started to collect DNA from undocumented immigrants. Lastly, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act was passed by the House on May 15. We’ll discuss each of these topics in depth.

Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act

In May 2020, the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act was proposed to help doctors and healthcare workers get green cards. This legislation is a bipartisan bill designed to allow for quicker processing times for visa applications of medical professionals. Up to 40,000 work visas are going to be recaptured from unused immigrant visas and allocated specifically to healthcare workers who are supposed to help with COVID-19.

  • 25,000 visas are reserved for nurses
  • 15,000 visas are reserved for physicians

Additionally, healthcare workers who are granted visas through this bill can bring their families, including unmarried children under the age of 21. Family members won’t count towards the 40,000 cap, so taking your family won’t deprive another applicant of the chance to get a visa.

Typically, only a limited number of visas can be given for each country. However, medical professionals applying for these visas are not subject to per limitations, which means they won’t have to worry about their application being denied because their country of origin reached their quota.

While getting a green card still requires consular processing, both the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State will expedite the process. AS the applicant, you’ll need to hand over a job offer letter at the consular interview, and the consular office should attest that your hiring won’t displace a US worker.

Currently, this is still a proposed bill that’s currently in Committee and has not yet been passed either the House of Representatives or Congress.

DNA Collection from Undocumented Immigrants

While the DNA Fingerprint Act has been in place since 2005, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has not applied it in the past administrations. Immigration enforcement has delayed its implementation since they don’t need it and they lack the funding to implement the collection of DNA samples from undocumented aliens who are in the US illegally.

Under the Trump administration, the DHS has begun to collect DNA samples from illegal immigrants according to immigration policies, starting from Dallas since May 2020. They’re using FBI DNA kits to collect the samples, and uploading the immigration data to a national database called Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to see if they match any crimes that have been committed. According to the DHS, no DNA will be collected from anyone aged 13 or younger.

If you’re an illegal immigrant and you’re concerned how this immigration policy affects you, call Andres Mejer Law and speak with an immigration attorney to make sure you have legal status in the US.

HEROES Act

On May 15, the House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which is about a second stimulus check payment. This act allows those who were previously not eligible for the stimulus check to get one now. Both immigrants and families married to undocumented immigrants are eligible under this bill.

If you’ve been paying taxes with a social security  number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), you and your spouse will be eligible for a stimulus check.

Stimulus checks are for:

  • Unmarried individuals who earn less than $75,000 a year; or
  • Married couples who earn less than $150,000 a year.

If you have dependents, you may receive up to $6,000. This act will also increase the additional unemployment payment of $600 a week through January 2021.

While the HEROES Act was passed by the House of Representatives, it hasn’t been approved by the Senate which won’t be in session until June 1.

Call Us at Andres Mejer Law

If you’re wondering how these laws affect your visa or green card application, or if you have any other questions regarding your immigration process, contact us today at Andres Mejer Law. We’ll provide you with the answers and legal assistance you need.