Immigration Will Look Different Under Biden
by Svetlana Prizant
Jan 06, 2021 | 5976 views | 0 0 comments | 690 690 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There are many aspects of the immigration system that the Biden administration will likely change during his first 100 days in office.

Reverse Trump’s Public Charge Rule

Critics point to the new rule as just a “wealth test” put in place by the Trump administration to limit legal immigration. President-elect Joseph Biden says he will end the new policy and revert back to the previous public charge guidelines.

For adjustment of status applicants, this would likely eliminate the need to submit Form I-944 (Declaration of Self Sufficiency). Most new immigrants will likely be required to file Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support).

Save DACA

The Obama-Biden administration created DACA in 2012 through executive action. The policy protects certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents.

The Trump administration made multiple attempts to cripple and wind-down the program. Although much of their policy has been blocked by the courts, DACA was reduced to a renewable one-year period of protection (instead of two years).

Biden is expected to immediately restore DACA to its original state and direct USCIS to accept new DACA applications. He has also stated an intent to explore all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation.

Biden would like to establish a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and possibly certain family members. A path to citizenship will likely be a long-term objective outside the first 100 days.

His administration wants to ensure “Dreamers” are eligible for federal student aid (loans, Pell grants) and are included in his proposals to provide access to community college without debt and invest in HBCU/Hispanic Serving

Rescind the Travel Ban

The Trump administration’s 2017 executive order limited travel to the United States by individuals from certain countries. The order temporarily blocked entry of people from 13 countries, most of them either majority-Muslim or African nations.

Biden says he will immediately rescind the “Muslim ban” and rely on current immigration law to regulate entry to foreign nationals.

Halt Construction of the Wall

Biden is expected to end the “National Emergency” declared by President Donald Trump to siphon federal dollars from the Department of Defense to build a wall. However, the Biden administration does support border security such as improvements in screening infrastructure at ports of entry.

Repair Asylum Policies

Biden is expected to immediately end policies that separate parents from their children at the border or forcing asylum seekers to wait outside the United States. He will also reaffirm asylum as a viable means to escape persecution in countries intolerant to the LGBTQ community.

What’s more, Biden said that he would immediately grant humanitarian protections to Venezuelans living in the United States, which would allow them to remain in the country and obtain work permits.

Re-establish Priority Enforcement

The Biden administration is expected to end enforcement policies that include the targeting of people who have never been convicted of a serious criminal offense and have otherwise lived productive lives.

Instead, the president-elect will focus the Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) on threats to public safety and national security. This would generally limit deportations to individuals who have committed felonies and more serious criminal offenses.

Protections for Immigrant Veterans

During the course of the past few administrations, immigration law has collided with the obligation we have to protect U.S. military veterans. Certain immigrant veterans have been deported.

Streamline Naturalization

The Trump administration recently updated the citizenship test and attempted to increase the filing fee. Although there are limited details provided for this promise, Biden wants to streamline and improve the naturalization process to make it more accessible to qualified green card holders.

He could direct the realignment of resources within USCIS to prioritize adjudication on naturalization cases.

Long-Term Immigration Reform

As vice president, Biden supported the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill that failed in the House. The Biden immigration plan will likely include many of the same proposals.

Many of his long-term immigration goals are based on preserving family unification. The current immigration system makes it difficult for many families to stay together during the extensive immigration process.

Biden recognizes this problem and hopes to improve many of the existing laws that are not sensitive to family unification.

Overhaul the Temporary Work Visa

Biden wants to work with Congress to reform temporary visas to establish a wage-based allocation process and establish enforcement mechanisms to ensure they are aligned with the labor market and not used to undermine wages.

Once adjusted, he will also support expanding the number of high-skilled visas and eliminating the limits on employment-based visas by country, which create unacceptably long backlogs for H-1B immigrant workers from countries like India.

This legislation would also benefit families of work visa holders like H-1B, which will affect a large number of Indian families in the United States. Biden is likely to reverse the outgoing Trump administration’s measures to revoke work permits to the spouses of H-1B visa holders.

Expand Employment-Based Visas

The number of employment-based visas is currently capped at 140,000 each year. Biden intends to push for an increase in the number of visas awarded for permanent, employment-based immigration during times of growth.

Likewise, that cap may contract during times of high U.S. unemployment. He would also exempt recent graduates of PhD programs in STEM fields in the U.S. from the cap.

Biden wants foreign graduates of a U.S. doctoral program to be granted a green card with their degree. He believes that losing these highly trained workers to foreign economies is a disservice to our own economic competitiveness.

Citizenship for Undocumented

An estimated 11 million people live in the United States without an immigration status. They may not have papers, but they contribute significantly to our economy. Many have family members that are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Voters rejected Trump’s policies by a double-digit margin. This gives the incoming president more political capital to get more accomplished.

Regardless of how the Biden immigration plan affects you and your family, USCIS application processing goes on.

Svetlana Prizant is an attorney practicing in Forest Hills. Reach her at (718) 407-0871 or prizant-law.com.
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