As promised, immediately after having sworn in on January 20, Joe Biden went to work. His team picked out to repair the damage to H-1B visas and the US immigration system done by the Trump presidency.
Via three forms of acts, the Trump Administration has made changes: legislative changes, administrative changes, and executive orders. Each type of action involves a different kind of reversal strategy.
Reversing Regulations Policy.
A memorandum was released by the White House Chief of Staff on January 20 that orders the departments to take some measures and consider some others.
It would control the following policies and laws:
- FROZEN for 60 days (until March 21, 2021) or more is the law requiring the selection of H-1B employees based on the highest pay.
- The law redefining relationships between employer and employee for H-1B purposes – Removed.
- The Department of Labor (DOL) policy that requires end clients to take all responsibility and to be involved in the H-1B process – Must be Removed.
An executive order eliminating the travel ban from some Muslim countries was also signed by Biden. The immigration ban that Trump extended until 31 March 2021 has not yet been lifted.
On January 20, 2021, the White House Chief of Staff released a memorandum to reverse the rules and policy, ordering the agencies to:
- Freeze all new laws for making or releasing them.
- Freeze the publication of laws not yet written.
- Freeze the regulations that have been released but have not yet taken effect for 60 days (until 31 March 2021), further specifying that the agencies will:
(a) consider opening a 30-day consultation period to allow stakeholders to comment on the facts, laws, and policy issues posed by those regulations.
(b) accept pending reconsideration requests involving certain rules.
(c) to continue to investigate these questions of fact, law, and policy where appropriate, and to consider further delay or publication for notice, and to comment on the proposed rules which further delay those rules beyond 60 days.
(d) Before taking any action on or under certain rules that present serious questions of fact, law or policy, conduct further deliberation.
Reshaping Immigration Policies
A policy package has also been submitted by the Biden Administration. There is no clear documentation yet, but the package of suggested changes contains the following:
- Clearing backlogs of green cards based on jobs, and removing visa quotas per country
- Making it much easier for graduates with advanced Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degrees from U.S. universities to live in the United States
- Continue to have work authorization for dependents of H-1B visa holders
- “Preventing children from “aging out” when they turn 21 years of age from the system
- Creation of a regional economic development pilot program authorizing the USCIS to change green cards based on macroeconomic conditions
- Incentivizing higher salaries for high-skilled, non-immigrant visas (such as H-1B) to avoid unfair competition with American workers
- Providing simplified routes for international students earning US STEM degrees.
Politically, now is a good time to revamp and modernize immigration laws. In conclusion, 70 percent of the US population considers immigration to be significant for the United States, based on different surveys conducted over the last two years. Democrats, the party of Biden, have the majority (although a slim one) to pass laws and be successful.
Also, looking back on the past of attempted immigration law amendments, the Senate, but not the then Republican-controlled House, passed the last major comprehensive immigration bill. Most of the Republican senators who sponsored the bill are still current Senate members. For most of the fundamental ideas contained in the Biden proposals, there should be bipartisan support. These proposals were also part of the last reform that failed.
The pace, quality, and experience exhibited by the Biden team make it inevitable for us to see smart and well-considered law and policy administration for at least the next four years. That alone is a great assurance that companies and people can make plans with a sense of rest.