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Expected Immigration Policy Changes Under Biden-Harris

 

Over the weekend, media outlets announced Joe Biden as winner of the 2020 presidential election. Legalpad is here to help you understand what the President Elect’s administration could look like for employment-based immigration in the coming four years.

Here’s where the Biden-Harris administration stands on several key issues.

Issue #1: Support of a H-1B wage-based allocation process

The H-1B is a visa category that allows certain skilled workers to temporarily work in the U.S. There is a numerical cap on the number of new H-1Bs available each year. Because of the higher demand than available supply, there is usually an H-1B lottery each year.

Instead of a randomized selection lottery, Biden supports a wage-based allocation process to ensure that the H-1B program is “not used to undermine wages”. It’s not yet clear what a wage-based selection process will look like under the Biden Administration, specifically whether and exactly how much of a preference it will give H-1B workers receiving higher wages. Legalpad will be closely monitoring the progress in the coming months and in January, when the new administration takes office. 

Issue #2: Expansion of employment-based green cards

Biden supports expanding the number of people who can be issued an employment-based green card each year. He has also laid claim that U.S PhD graduates in STEM fields would be exempt from the green card cap. 

He will also aim to lower the number of green cards issued during periods of higher U.S. unemployment. Overall, Biden’s plan to increase employment-based green cards gives hope to foreign workers in the U.S. and the companies that want to employ these high-skilled workers.

Issue # 3: Elimination of the per-country cap for green cards

There is currently an annual cap on the number of U.S. green cards that can be issued for people from each country. While there is a flat limit on each country, there is also a high demand for green cards from people born in certain countries, namely India and China. This has resulted in large green card backlogs for Indian and Chinese nationals. 

Biden’s plan will reduce the backlog for people born in India and China, but it could increase the wait times for people born in other countries. For example, people born in Europe may have to wait slightly longer to get their green cards.  

Issue #4: Elimination of the public charge rule

Biden has stated he will aim to reverse the public charge rule, which made it harder for people to get visas and green cards if they were found to be at risk of becoming a “public charge” and relying on government assistance. The rule took effect in February 2020, and has bounced back and forth in the courts. His administration will seek to eliminate this rule as they believe it undermines America’s values as a land that welcomes all people, not just the wealthy.

Issue #5: The future of COVID-19 travel restrictions is still unknown

President Trump signed a series of proclamations to limit the entry of people entering the U.S. from certain countries in Europe, Brazil, China, and Iran. The proclamations were intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s still unclear whether and when the Biden Administration will reverse these restrictions, but his campaign has said that they will listen to public health officials for travel guidance.

Issue #6: Rescission of the “Muslim” travel ban

Biden plans to rescind Trump’s travel ban for people from 13 predominantly Muslim countries. It is likely that this could be done quickly because the original bans were done by executive orders and presidential proclamations, which could be easily undone by a new president without the need for congressional approval.

Issue #7: Reinstatement of DACA

Last but not least, Biden has promised to reinstate DACA, which protects eligible people who came to the U.S. as children from deportation and provides them with U.S. work authorization. He also supports legislation that could give Dreamers a path to citizenship. 

It’s important to note that none of these plans are set in stone, but are the expectations laid by the Biden-Harris campaign during their campaign and stated on their website. At Legalpad, we remain committed to providing you with consistent, timely updates on changes to immigration policy as they are announced.