New administration means changes to immigration laws, Columbus attorney explains

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A new country has been added to the Temporary Protective Status list and the use of public benefits won’t hinder someone’s chances at becoming a resident.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan VucciPresident Joe Biden meets with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Vice President Kamala Harris, in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Washington.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As President Joe Biden’s administration nears its first 100 days, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a major focus, but there have been other moves in D.C.

The administration has made a few changes to immigration laws.  

Venezuela has been added to temporary protective status, meaning citizens and nationals of Venezuela who meet certain criteria can get a work permit and be allowed to live here for a minimum of 18 months.

“It can always be extended and that starts as long as you were in the United States and have continuously resided in the United States since March 8,” said Stephanie Corcoran, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus who works with Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

She noted Venezuelans who qualify have a 180-day window to apply.  

The United States government will stop taking applications on September 5, 2021. 

There are also changes for undocumented immigrants who have used public benefits. 

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, “An alien who is likely at any time to become a public charge is generally inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident.” 

Under President Donald Trump’s administration, an undocumented person who used Medicaid public housing or SNAP Benefits could have lost the opportunity to become a resident or citizen.  

Corcoran said the public charge is a bit less strict under the Biden Administration. 

“Under the former administration, it was defined as someone—if they used public benefits, for a period of 12 months during the last 36 months. So, it was a lot tighter,” she said. 

“It really was difficult for people, especially during a pandemic, people were afraid to get Medicaid or afraid to get essential services and benefits for themselves and for their families. Under the new rule, there’s still a limit and the public charge still exists, it’s just defined differently.” 

Basically, now the U.S. government won’t consider someone’s short-term use of Medicaid, public housing or SNAP benefits as reasons to not allow them to become a permanent resident.

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