Anyone who is interested in immigrating into the United States must take it upon themselves to learn about all the different immigration policies and regulations/requirements that are set by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are several things that regularly cause issues, however: Immigration law is extremely complex, and the policies and regulations of the USCIS change on a fairly frequent basis. As these changes can be anything from new documentation required when filing, to new addresses where forms must be mailed, it is extremely important to keep up on all potential changes, and how they might affect your filing. In recent years, there have been no drastic changes to any immigration laws, but there have been numerous shifts in several immigration policies, which this entry will help explain. One of the more notable recent policy changes was involving hardship waivers. In the early months of 2012, immigration policy makers changed the rule which stated that individuals who have filed for hardship waivers would be permitted extra time to stay in the United States while the paperwork surrounding their hardship waivers was processed and reviewed. Before the rule was changed, the law very clearly state that any individual filing for a hardship waiver would have to leave the country while it was reviewed and processed. Hardship waivers are formal written requests to the USCIS asking the U.S. government to forgo the ban period that it automatically assigns to any individuals who are facing deportation. Typically, the ban period is 3-10 years, and is a time during which an individual is not allowed to return to the United States for any reason. The hardship waivers can be granted for numerous reasons, but most typically they have to do with family members or relatives that remain in the United States while an individual is deported. As such, a hardship waiver must be filed along with sufficient evidence that banning an individual would strain or put hardship to the remaining family members. The changes to this new rule are 2-fold: Not only will individuals be allowed to stay in the United States with their family members while their application is being processed (a period which is known to take, on average, 6 months or more), but the new changes will also attempt to reduce the amount of time it takes to process hardship waiver applications, and determine their outcome. There have been several other minor changes to U.S. Immigration law in the past years, such as updated to the green card. The new green cards, which first started appearing in 2010, include many updated security features, which help improve security. The new features were implemented to introduce state-of-the-art tampering prevention, which allows for them to theoretically be authenticated and processed faster. Some of the additions to the green card include holographic images in the card, as well as laser-engraved fingerprints, which will make the card almost impossible to duplicate. The new green cards will also have RFID chips built-in, which will allow border patrol officers the ability to read them from a distance with scanners. All of these changes have been done in order to increase security and make the immigration process more efficient.