Two-thousand-sixteen was momentous in the U.S. immigration world.  Supreme Court decisions, the elections results, the new influx of refugees, and changes in U.S.-foreign relations have all changed the face of U.S. immigration.  In case you missed something, here’s our overview of the must-know immigration events of 2016.

 

January 26: Obama announces he will continue to restore ties with Cuba.  This will result in more travel opportunities to the island, investment opportunities into some limited operations, and the import of some Cuban alcohol and tobacco products.

 

April 5: USCIS receives over 233,000 H-1B petitions under the FY2016 H-1B cap from April 1st.  With only 85,000 open slots, employers only have a 1/3 chance of getting an H-1B petition on behalf of an employee.

 

June 23: The Supreme Court deadlocked in 4-4 Vote on Challenge to Obama’s Immigration Executive Actions. As NPR explained, “The 4-4 tie leaves in place a lower court ruling that put the Obama administration’s DAPA program on hold. If you remember, back in 2014, President Obama announced that he was expanding his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shielded young people, commonly referred to as ‘dreamers,’ who were brought into the country illegally by their parents. That program shielded some 1.1 million immigrants from deportation, while the expansion of that program and the creation of another — called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) — would have shielded some 4 million others.”

 

June 23: While seemingly only a foreign issue, the decision of voters in Great Britain to leave the European Union signaled a change in attitudes about immigration on the European continent and may have influenced how American voters should view the influx of refugees to this country.

 

June 30: Trump makes various controversial remarks against the Mexican government regarding its contribution to illegal immigration and its possible attack on the U.S. making U.S. ties with Mexico and immigration a main discussion topic of the U.S. elections.

 

July 29: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a final rule expanding the existing provisional waiver process to allow individuals who are family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and who are statutorily eligible for immigrant visas, to apply.

 

November 8: The election of Donald Trump was significant for the direction it signaled U.S. immigration policy would be taking in the foreseeable future. His agenda of building a wall on the Mexican border, of deporting illegal immigrants and blocking the inflow of Muslims found favor with many voters in the U.S. who were obviously frustrated with the path immigration policy had been taking.

 

November 25: Fidel Castro, revolutionary dictator of Cuba, dies, sending a wave of celebration among the Cuban asylee population in the U.S.

 

December 23, 2016: USCIS announces a fee increase of almost all available applications, resulting in a 21% increase overall.