Throughout President Trump’s four years in office, over 400 executive and regulatory actions on immigration have taken place to make it even more challenging for foreign nationals to immigrate to the United States. However, as the U.S. will soon transition away from a Trump administration with Joe Biden’s upcoming presidency, there are several key issues to which a Biden-Harris administration will apply a different approach which will have a direct impact on immigration cases your immigration lawyers are representing you on in Portland, Oregon.
Thus far, President-elect Biden has said that he will make a set of executive orders to reverse many of Trump’s previous immigration laws. It’s likely that cancelling the 2017 travel ban from 11 Muslim-majority countries, along with reinstating the Obama-era DACA program, will be central priorities and allow many individuals separated from loved ones to get immigrant visas and green cards. Additionally, during the third presidential debate, Biden claimed that within his first 100 days in office, he will send a comprehensive immigration reform bill to Congress.
Keep in mind, though: many immigration analysts have said that reversing Trump-era immigration laws will take time. While rescinding President Trump’s travel ban can be easily done since they were issued by executive order and presidential proclamation, lawsuits may delay the process. Sarah Pierce of the Migration Policy Institute announced, “We’re about to see the pace of immigration changes slow down significantly.” This is especially true now, as Biden will have tremendous work to do as soon as he enters office to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Immigration and COVID-19?
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump Administration has implemented many pandemic-related travel restrictions. Biden has criticized some of these in the past when speaking about immigration, calling many of these travel bans “xenophobic.” Thus far,, Biden hasn’t clearly stated whether he plans to reverse these immediately upon entering the office.
Refugee and Asylum Seeking
The Migration Policy Institute’s new policy brief analyzes the incoming administration’s main immigration priorities and predicts both challenges and opportunities of the Biden-Harris approach. The brief highlights that Biden plans to raise refugee resettlement from 2020 current record low of 15,000 to 125,000. Biden also says that he will raise funding to the operational capacity of the nonprofits that resettle refugees, which will help increase resettlement. Experts from the Migration Policy Institute have reported that Biden may adopt its policy recommendation to allow asylum officers to screen migrants for asylum and adjudicate their cases to completion, which would help to minimize court backlogs and speed up the entire process.
The Biden-Harris administration has also promised that it will halt border wall construction and revive the asylum process that the Trump administration has nearly stopped. Furthermore, Biden has said that he would end the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols policy, which is often called the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Trump’s August 2020 policy that requires asylum seekers to wait 365 days before applying for work permit eligibility will also likely be reversed.
Biden has also proposed to exempt U.S. graduates of Ph.D. STEM programs from visa caps. He has also proposed to provide foreign graduates of U.S. doctoral programs a green card upon obtaining their degree. This automatic granting of green cards to graduates would reduce the number of applicants waiting for their green card petitions, and would also incentivize brilliant students from abroad to study in the U.S. and remain in the country as an employer after their studies, which would in turn benefit the American economy.
K-1 Fiancé Visas
K-1 Fiancee visa cases are currently being processed in a very slow manner, if at all, under the Trump administration. Since March 2020, the Trump administration suspended the routine processing of visas, including the halting of all K-1 visa processing. Once we have President-elect Biden in power, it is expected that this arbitrary decision to halt K-1 visa processing will be reversed. Of course, the pandemic will intervene with routine processing, and may intervene with consulates’ normal functioning.
The Biden administration will collaborate with Congress to raise the number of employment-based visas. The current annual employment cap of 140,000 visas, many argue, is a hindrance to the market. The Biden-Harris administration also the elimination of country caps on employment-visas as well. This would decrease the currently long backlogs for immigrants from certain countries. For instance, because of current per-country limits, certain employment-based green card applicants could wait decades.
The Biden-Harris campaign has also suggested that it may reform existing visa programs for temporary workers. These include agricultural, seasonal and highly skilled workers. Such reforms would include increasing the number of temporary visas available every year. Biden has also proposed to create a new visa category that could stimulate local and regional economic development, although details about this are still vague. He may also redirect federal funds from the border wall to other border enforcement and security needs.