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A Joe Biden Administration – Immigration Visas

Change is finally here and has come with Joe Biden being elected as the 46th President of the United States. The Democrats have been preparing for this win for a long time and have since announced a long list of Donald Trump enacted policy changes they wish to reverse. While Donald Trump made ample radical policy changes it will be interesting to see which areas Joe Biden targets in his first 100 days in office.

Since the declaration of the global pandemic Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) the Democrats have been against the manner in which Trump responded to the treatment and implementations of precautionary measures to the pandemic. Furthermore, Trump used the pandemic as a tool to implement various immigration policy changes that restrict access to the U.S. The restrictions were implemented to protect the U.S. citizens from “losing jobs to immigrants.” While the pandemic has affected the labor market for various nations and subsequently affected the global economies, a complete ban into the U.S. was considered to be an extreme measure, especially a ban that would be in effect until the end of the year. Joe Biden was categorically against the enactment of the travel ban and has vehemently said that the focus should be on controlling the rising numbers of people contracting the virus. He has promised to make this area a number one priority by implementing mandatory regulations for people to wear masks and for continuous testing and screening.

While the response to the current pandemic is gravely important for the health of the U.S. citizens as well the economy of the U.S. What is equally important is knowing and understanding how Joe Biden will reverse all the immigration policies enacted by Donald Trump.

In June 2020, Trump announced the suspension of obtaining U.S. visas to gain entrance to the U.S. as a response to the current pandemic. The travel ban which flowed across multiple U.S. visa categories was due to be in place until 31 December 2020. Joe Biden has promised to rescind this travel ban for at least 13 countries. However, these are not the only changes Trump made to immigration visas in 2020. The Trump administration implemented measures aimed to regulate the HI-B visa category. Through the implementation of provisions for employees under the visa it was set to hinder the amount of applicants obtained via the visa category. The regulations announced that under the H1-B visa employees must be paid wages aligning with the labor market and narrowed the definition of ‘specialty occupations’. Albeit, Biden has not provided the exact details as to how or if he will make changes to this specific visa category but he has always advocated for the expansion of the number of high-skilled visas.

The Biden administration has constantly advocated for immigration and immigrants currently living and looking to access the U.S. This is evidenced by Joe Biden’s promise to submit an immigration bill to Congress that will include a pathway to citizenship for immigrants titled as the “dreamers”. If he succeeds he would be the first president to successfully introduce an immigration policy of this magnitude. The bill will also include protection for people who have entered the U.S. illegally as children and have been living in the country for years. This would be in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program initiated by former President Obama in which Donald Trump tried to terminate but was declined by the U.S. Supreme court.

Evidently, Joe Biden seems to be addressing immigration issues from a humanitarian point of view and amending sectors that most U.S. citizens have called out Trump for. This is further evidenced by his statement that he will halt deportation of immigrants for the first 100 days. This means that he will be using that time to carefully review the current policies and implement a game plan that will benefit both the U.S. and the immigrants. From a business perspective he most likely will retain all the immigrant visa programs that benefit the U.S.

The EB-5 immigrant investor program has been one of the few visa categories that have been minimally affected by the Trump administration. Biden has not openly expressed his views as to whether he will be making changes to this visa category and to what extent these changes will affect the prospective applicants. However the EB-5 immigrant investor program directly contributes to the growth of the U.S. economy and labor market, it is thus assumed that the most likely change would be for Biden to increase the current required capital investment for the benefit of the U.S. economy. Granted this may not be something he implements immediately but with the recent increase of visa quotas and the overall popularity of the program it may be the most viable solution for the program.

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