The New Biden/Harris Administration and Immigration Changes
With Joseph R. Biden Jr. being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Devi Harris being sworn in as Vice President on January 20, 2021, there are likely to be significant immigration changes coming soon.
Vice President Harris is not only the first woman to serve as Vice President; she is the first person of South Asian descent to serve in this position. As the daughter of immigrants, she is likely to have a positive impact on pro-immigration policies, which we expect will be coming out of the White House rather quickly. Her mother, a breast cancer researcher, arrived in the U.S. from India as a graduate student in nutrition and endocrinology and earned her PhD. Her father is a professor emeritus of economics, who arrived in the U.S. from British Jamaica for graduate school and earned his PhD in economics. Kamala Harris graduated from high school in Canada (where she lived with her mother) and eventually earned her law degree in the United States.
President Biden has already said that he will immediately end the “Travel Ban” that Trump instituted early in his tenure. The end of the Travel Ban will allow many of our clients to travel home for the first time in four years. Family members will now be able to more easily enter the U.S. on dependent visas. Consular processing for employment-based green cards and other employment visas will be much more accessible. H-1B visas will now be available for persons previously affected by the Travel Ban.
The H-1B restrictions recently implemented by the Trump administration will likely be rescinded almost immediately, and the public charge rule and the requirement to file the I-944 with an Adjustment of Status will most likely be done away with early on as well.
Another thing to look forward to is the implementation of premium processing for National Interest Waiver petitions. We are hopeful that premium processing will be implemented by early March at the latest.
While Senate Bill 386 and House Bill 1044 were never passed into law in 2020, new bills will likely be introduced and brought forward. Whether a similar bill will make it into law in 2021 and in what form is just too speculative at this point, but Vice President Harris is a strong proponent of equalizing priority dates, so we would expect to see some proposed changes in the law in 2021. This is one area in particular that we will keep a close watch on so we can keep our clients from all countries informed as to developments related to any significant priority date changes.
What we will be watching the closest is what effect the new administration has on the adjudication of employment-based petitions. The last four years were extremely challenging, with the standards for petitions changing on almost a weekly basis. While our NIW success rate on guaranteed cases stayed above 99%, we did have to respond to more Requests for Evidence (RFEs) that were issued in the past year. We had to fight hard for our clients to get cases approved, which historically should have been easily approved. It will take some time, but we are hopeful new directives will be given and that the days of unreasonable adjudications and unreasonable USCIS Officers are behind us.
Finally, we are very hopeful that the Biden/Harris administration will implement new policies and that Congress will provide the resources necessary for USCIS to adjudicate cases in a more timely manner. COVID has had a significant impact on the processing times. The lack of income USCIS generated due to Trump’s anti-immigration policies and the lack of necessary funding provided to USCIS also negatively impacted USCIS’ ability to timely process cases. USCIS officers faced furloughs consistently throughout the past year. With the new administration and the new support they will be given, USCIS officers should be more stable, less unpredictable, and more motivated to be productive.
We are very optimistic about 2021 and the next four years. We are excited about the new hope and welcoming message that the Biden/Harris administration bring to U.S. immigration. We are looking forward to continued success “Representing The Best and Brightest”™️ with the best immigration services possible and helping our clients to become Permanent Residents of the United States of America!
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