US immigration to get back on track under Biden administration

US immigration under Joe Biden

One of the greatest changes expected from Joe Biden, the new President-elect, is the way the US handles US immigration and looks at immigrants. There are many positive decisions expected from the new government taking charge in the US in a few days.

The Trump administration has been issuing executive orders, memos, and passing regulations that have shrunk the opportunities for non-immigrants to work in the US. The new government may not be quick to undo all that in one shot but will have to be prudent and careful in untying the issues created by those decrees.

The usual procedure for any “finalized” regulation that has been put into effect is to undo them by issuing a round of notice and comment. Such notice/comment can be used to withdraw the rule or make a settlement in litigation.

For those regulations due to be finalized after January 20, 2020, the swear-in day of Joe Biden, an executive order will be issued to postpone the date of finalization by 60 days. This will give time to the new government to make a well-thought-of decision regarding the regulation. What could be best kept will be maintained and what should be avoided will be withdrawn.

The April 20, 2020 proclamation

The Trump administration had made the proclamation in April 2020, citing the threat of COVID-19 that all aliens as immigrants will be barred from entering the US for 60 days. This suspension barred the opportunity for immigrants to come to work in USA holding visas like H-1B and L-1. These visas are the only pathways that highly educated foreign nationals including international students have to become employment-based immigrants.

The scope of the suspension was increased to other visa categories too during the June 2020 proclamation. Again, on December 31, 2020, Trump extended the period of 2 earlier proclamations until March 31, 2021.

The Biden administration will have to find out and establish that the suspension of entry applied to specific categories of foreign nationals won’t go against the interests of the USA.

The Biden administration could rescind executive orders like that of the ban on entry of people from predominantly Muslim countries without notice or comment. The Biden administration will have many challenges to meet including restoring refugee and asylum programs, overcoming huge backlogs in visa application through the times, and solving the financial distress of USCIS.

Restoring the H-1B and L-1 visas will help educated candidates all over the world to come to the USA to work, settle, and eventually become citizens. The expectations from Joe Biden are high in this direction. After all, the odds are stacked against the USA too. Due to visa restrictions, companies are outsourcing their jobs to other countries. The shortage of talents coming from other countries will drain the opportunities like having a new start-up company that will in-turn employ more people including Americans.

Continuing Trump’s policies that resulted in ever-increasing H-1B visa denial will destroy the chances of US universities to regain international students. Such a mistake isn’t expected from the Biden administration. International students look forward to work in USA after their studies in US universities, for which an H-1B visa is essential.

Already there’s a 13% downfall in first-time Freshman enrolment that was registered in Fall 2020.It has a connection to Trump’s anti-immigration stance. New physical enrolments of students in the US have come down by 72%. The fall in foreign enrolment due to students starting online courses overseas is 43%. This creates a challenging task for the Biden administration to bring up policies that lure international students to join US institutes in Fall 2021.

Moreover, the Trump administration had implemented the decision to limit the period of stay of international students in the US and scrapped the H-1B lottery. This has created another crisis by keeping out international students from eventually entering the US labor market. But Biden is likely to strongly support the students. So, OPT that includes the STEM extension earlier introduced by Obama will be preserved under the Biden administration.

The restriction imposed on H-1B and L-1 visas is also challenging the capacity of the US to establish, acquire, or expand US businesses. The decline on this front has been at a rate of 37.7% between 2018 and 2019 as per the findings of the US Department of Commerce.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to the USA, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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USCIS – United States Citizenship and immigration Services

OPT – Optional Practical Training

STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

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Anshul Singhal

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