Immigration law seems to be constantly in flux, and 2020 is no exception. Here are some changes to immigration law that will become effective in 2020 that immigrants in San Jose should be aware of.

First, there are fee increases for key applications and forms that could affect many who are seeking naturalization. For example, the fee for a naturalization application has gone up to $1,170 — an 83% uptick from the $640 fee in 2019. Those applying for asylum can expect to pay a $50 fee in 2020. Fees for petitions for employment authorization and fees for petitions to remove conditions on permanent residence obtained through marriage have also increased starting in 2020.

Permanent residents in the U.S. who wish to become U.S. citizens should also know that after December 2020, they will be expected to be literate in English and able to speak basic English, along with having “essential knowledge” of our nation’s history, along with our nation’s form of government.

If an immigrant wishes to reside in the U.S. via an immigrant visa or as a permanent resident, they cannot be a public charge. Starting in 2020 the definition of public charge will be expanded to include those who receive public benefits such as Medicaid or food stamps for over 12 months within any 36-month time frame.

In addition, if an immigrant is seeking asylum, and has applied for a work permit on that basis, they should know that the requirements for eligibility along with the wait time for such permits have seen changes starting in 2020 as well.

These changes may make the naturalization process more daunting, but those seeking to become U.S. citizens should not be dissuaded from doing so just because some of the rules for doing so have changed. This is because they can seek the assistance of professionals who understand immigration law and can help them with the legal aspects of naturalization. Becoming a U.S. citizen is a dream for many, and while doing so may have become more difficult in some ways, it is still a goal that, with the right help, can potentially be reached.