President Biden came into office pledging bold and swift action to bring a new vision for U.S. immigration policy. During his first 100 days as president, Mr. Biden introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation and directed federal agencies to conduct a thorough review of immigration policies introduced by the Trump Administration.
The Biden Administration has also implemented many reforms that have improved the immigration experience and process, such as:
- Rescinding discriminatory travel and visa bans.
- Offering Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans.
- Enacting Premium Processing for E-3 Visa holders.
These reforms have begun to change the harsh consequences of a multitude of prior policies, rules, and bans. However, there is still a lot of work to do to revamp the business immigration landscape.
Pressing Immigration Issues for Employers
Huge delays in processing work permits and inefficiencies in verifying employment authorization. These delays range from five months to one year, and they are keeping employees out of work and employers unable to manage essential projects due to lack of talent and other uncertainties. These delays are also causing ongoing inefficiencies in employment verification.
DHS must simplify and modernize the processing of work permits and the employment verification process to account for advancements in technology and how businesses actually operate today, including remote work and remote verification.
Extreme delays or inability to process a visa at consular posts. Visa backlogs are tremendous and have been exacerbated by consular closures, pandemic flare-ups, and travel bans. Some consulates are only processing emergency appointments, and many foreign nationals remain unable to obtain a visa to travel to the U.S. for business or work. We recommend postponing international travel if at all possible.
Unfair H-1B lottery and cap to select professional talent. The new administration should ensure that we have a fair and transparent process for professional work visas. We need a number of visas that reflect business needs and encompass wages that reflect real-world norms — not inflated systems.
Outlook for the Future
The following changes are taking shape and expected to be implemented this year:
- Facilitate the ability of certain H-4 workers to obtain and renew their work authorization timely.
- Provide a path for DACA recipients to apply for legal permanent residence.
- Increased use of technology to minimize bureaucracy and facilitate efficiency of immigration processing.
Additionally, debate and revisions over the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform will continue.
However, the Biden Administration has taken important steps to re-establish the United States of America as a welcoming nation and to facilitate employers’ ability to hire needed foreign talent. The road ahead may be slow and filled with obstacles, but at least it feels like we are on the right path.