Immigration Law: What to Expect in 2021

Since Joe Biden won the presidential election, there will be significant changes in the political and legal landscape. It is anticipated that scores of executive orders will be written and signed in the first few days after the inauguration, with Biden reversing many of the Trump Administration’s most controversial policies. Immigration policy is an area that is likely to garner a great deal of attention. The last four years have seen legal immigration drop by an estimated 49%, and this has had real-world impacts on the quality of life for refugees as well as for America’s economic growth. Biden has made it clear that changing course is a top priority. Among the changes that can be expected are:

  • Loosening access to H-1B visas, which provide the ability for highly skilled and highly educated people to work long term in the United States. They will likely return h-1B visa holders and employment-based immigrant salaries to previous levels, restore the H-1B lottery and the original definition of specialty occupations.
  • Address the backlog of immigration applications. Some of these have been exacerbated by the challenges imposed by COVID-19, but others are a result of resources having been focused on enforcement rather than adjudication. That is likely to be shifted to shorten visa wait times. Other changes may include rescinding administrative requirements that have slowed processing and made it harder for applicants to be approved.
  • Reversing all executive orders on immigration not related to COVID-19, including the ban on entry of those from primarily Muslim countries, restoring the family-sponsored and Diversity Visa categories, and reversing the public charge rule.
  • Eliminating the per-country limit for employment-based immigrants.
  • Addressing DACA and protecting Dreamers
  • Addressing the question of international students and revisions to H-1B rules to encourage students to stay and work in the United States after graduation.
  • Address the current challenges regarding refugees, asylum seekers and those in the United States under Temporary Protected Status, with special attention paid to those currently living in camps in Mexico and ending the policy of family separation.

Prior to his election, Joe Biden issued an immigration policy document that said in part, ““He will set the annual global refugee admissions cap to 125,000 and seek to raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values, and the unprecedented global need.” This would reflect both an increase in the number of refugees permitted in the final year of Barack Obama’s administration and a sea change from Donald Trump’s reduction of the annual ceiling to 15,000. There are a huge number of critical situations facing the president-elect when he takes office, but it is clear that 2021 will see an entirely new tone in America’s immigration policy.

If you’re having problems with immigration law, the Jensen Bagnato team is here to help. Contact our compassionate, experienced attorneys today!