President Joe Biden’s immigration bill includes multiple changes to the current immigration policy that will likely affect the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States who do not leave legal status—1.5 million of whom have resided and contributed to the economy for over 20 years. Biden’s immigration policy includes a fast pathway to citizenship, moving first to temporary legal status then a permanent green card. For DACA recipients, the process may be faster than for other immigrants.
The Biden-Harris plan for immigration speaks on reversing the Trump administration’s immigration policy, modernizing the immigration system, and developing community support for immigrants. While the plan heavily discusses the root causes of irregular migration and the reassertion of commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees, it lacks specific detail about border security and any new visa plans, including traditional trade-offs with border patrols.
The new immigration legislation will focus on immigrants already living in the United States, at least in the first few months of Biden’s presidency. However, Biden opposes Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), which makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexico.
The Biden-Harris administration’s immigration bill, expected to run hundreds of pages, calls for a direct path to citizenship for immigrants without legal status living in the United States as of January 1, 2021. Those who qualify will be on a five-year path with temporary legal status, meaning they will be able to attain a green card in the next 5 years. Those who qualify must be prepared to pass background checks, pay taxes, and fulfill basic requirements. When that part of the process is complete, those with a green card will be on a 3-year path to naturalization, where they can acquire citizenship. At the end of the process, the recipient would become a U.S. citizen if they chose to do so.
Biden plans to work directly with congress to allow workers in select industries to switch jobs under temporary work visas as well as ask employers to provide data showing the lack of labor availability, require them to pay a fair wage, and ensure the employee’s rights to join a union. Biden’s proposal for temporary worker visas is to prevent exploitation of workers and improve local economies.
Under the new Biden immigration plan, beneficiaries of DACA, known as “DREAMers,” can apply for green cards immediately, quickening the five-year process. DACA, which is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act, was an executive order under the Obama-Biden administration. DACA is for immigrant children who arrived with their parents to have protection from deportation and temporary two-year work permits.
The Trump administration, along with the GOP-controlled Senate, attempted to revise immigration laws to stop the temporary protection for Dreamers, but was ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court.
Biden proposes supporting the expansion of high-skilled visas and changing the current policy by removing limits on employment-based visas by country. Yet, the immediate focus on immigration is for those who are already in the United States.
Biden has spoken about reforming the Trump administration’s asylum and refugee policies. Biden stated would like to establish a bipartisan agreement of a 95,000-person minimum refugee cap. The current refugee cap under the Trump administration is 15,000.
Biden’s immigration proposal seeks to ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as Customs and Border Protection (CBP), go through more training with increased resources. Biden calls for the leaders of these agencies to answer directly to him.
H-1B visas are temporary work visas for individuals in specialty occupations, DOD researchers and development project workers, as well as those who are fashion models of prominence. L-1 visas are also temporary work visas for intracompany transferees in an executive or managerial position.
In June 2020, the Trump administration made a proclamation, extending from an April 2020 proclamation, using 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to suspend entry of (almost all) immigrants, including H-1B and L-1 temporary visa holders. Judge Jeffrey S. White ruled against the former President’s H-1B visa ban, declaring that the State Department and Department of Homeland Security cannot engage in the non-processing or non-issuance of H, J, and L visa petitioners.
Though Judge White declared Trump’s ban unconstitutional, U.S. consulates still experienced difficulties. Trump extended the proclamation to ban H-1B and other immigration visas once more in December 2020, an extension that is meant to last until March 31, 2021, despite the rising demand of skilled workers in the tech industry.
Though the reform may not happen on day one, President Biden and his administration said that the ban of individuals from Muslim countries will be rescinded. In fact, all executive orders from the Trump administration can be rescinded without the need of notice or any further justification.
Visa changes, like banning H-1B visas, can be detrimental to the United States economy. Many holders of these visas are employed by tech companies, a field which lacks workers, and a field that desperately needs technology professionals. Though Biden’s stance on H-1B visas is not yet solidified, the new administration will declare its stance when it decides whether to rescind orders that have recently halted these temporary visa holders to work in the U.S.
President Biden’s appears to support the admittance of more international students to U.S. universities. In the recent past, the United States has limited the stay for international students, but this policy might be subject to change. However, because of the travel restrictions due to COVID-19, serious change in travel for international students cannot be fully considered until schools potentially open in fall of 2021.
When international students graduate, a first step may be attaining an H-1B visa for temporary work in the United States. Biden’s immigration plan states that the President “believes that foreign graduates of a U.S. doctoral program should be given a green card,” along with the notion that losing highly educated and trained workers do a disservice to the United States economy.
Biden plans to secure the POWER Act, which stands for “Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation Act.” The POWER Act calls for the extension of U Visas, which protects victims of workplace violations who are undocumented immigrants. He also wants to increase the number of visas for domestic violence survivors. Biden’s immigration plan also mentions the support of programs that allow cities and counties to petition for higher levels of immigrant visas.
Having or petitioning for a temporary visa or permanent residency in a time of executive change can be challenging and confusing. The experienced lawyers at Scott D. Pollock and Associates P.C. are here for you if you have any questions, concerns, or want to pursue a visa or green card. Contact us for a more detailed explanation of the Biden transition or any other questions you may have about your immigration status.View Similar Articles