Published on:

Immigration Executive Actions and Legislation for 2021 – A Look Ahead

Immigrants and the businesses who hire them can expect numerous changes in a Biden/Harris administration. Restrictions on immigration were a hallmark of the Trump administration, starting with the processing and eligibility for workplace visas and for green cards. The Trump administration rolled back many protections for immigrants – to focus on hiring and retaining American workers.

The main change will be one of tone – one of saying that immigrants are valuable contributors to the American economy. Many changes can be made immediately through Executive Orders by the President. Changes in legislation will be very difficult unless there’s a change in tone in the federal legislature. The Biden administration will likely review many other administration and court challenges to the immigration process – to make the process more friendly to immigrants and their families.

Executive Actions

Some of the expected executive actions include:

Reinstating the DACA program. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a U.S. immigration policy that focuses on people who are not in the U.S. legally because they were brought to America as children by their parents. DACA provides that these children (many are now adults) will receive a two-year renewable period of deferred deportation action. These immigrants could become eligible for a U.S. work permit provided they don’t have any felonies or serious misdemeanors. The program was announced by President Obama but removed by President Trump.

Reversing several bans including:

The ban on Issuing H-1B and H-2B visas (for workers in specialty occupations, DOD researchers, and fashion models), J-1 visas (for research scholars, professors, and exchange visitors engaged in cultural programs, especially programs involving medical or business training), and L-1 visas (temporary relocation of foreigners by companies for high level, executive positions in the U.S. – according to the USCIS). There are some exceptions.

The bans on entry from certain countries with Muslim majority populations.

The bans on entry from other countries such as China and Iran due to concerns about COVID-19 and for other reasons.

New Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations.

Executive actions should also help provide more funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Labor (DOL, and the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) agency.

Another significant expected change will be removing the strict Inadmissibility Rule, which provides that immigrants seeking green cards must show that that won’t become a public charge in the United States. The current Trump administration rule provides that anyone who receives 12 months of government benefits (such as SSI or Medicaid) during a 36 month period is ineligible for a green card.

Possible legislation in a Biden administration

Legislation to eliminate per-country quotas, called The Fairness in High Skilled Immigration Act (SB 386). Variations of this bill have already been passed in the House and in the Senate. The law aims to help ensure that workers from larger countries, such as Mexico and India, can obtain a fairer share of visas and green cards. Currently, most countries have a seven percent cap on the annual amount of available green cards each country can receive. Some applicants from larger counties need to wait decades before they’ll be eligible for a green card because of the cap.

Comprehensive immigration reform – including NIV and IV Systems. According to the Migration Policy Institute, his reform would balance legalizing unauthorized immigrants, bringing more workers to the U.S. labor market, and increasing border enforcement.

Nullification of the EB-5 Rule. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program encourages aliens to invest in the United States in return for conditional immigration status. A new EB-5 rule, effective November 21, 2019, made a few changes. These changes include increasing the minimum investment amount from $1 million to $1.8 million and increasing investment in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) from $500,000 to $900,000.

One thing is for sure: The Biden administration’s view on immigration will be very different from the Trump administration’s stance.

Make the call to a seasoned Austin immigration lawyer today

At Lyttle Law Firm, our immigration attorneys fight to help immigrants achieve the dream of working, living, becoming lawful residents, and becoming citizens of the United States. To discuss your immigrant status or the status of someone you love or want to sponsor, call us at  512.215.5225 or via our online form to schedule an appointment. We represent immigrants, families, and employers nationwide. 

Contact Information