Although leaving the White House is now just a matter of time and formality for outgoing US President Donald Trump, the policies implemented by his administration will welcome his successor Joe Biden when he takes office as the 46th President of the United States.
Under the Trump administration, US immigration policy was tightened to an extent the world had never seen before. In fact, such a harsh clampdown on America’s immigration policy last dates back to the 1930s.
There was much fanfare leading up to Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016, with Making America Great Again being the main agenda. After he won the election and took office, he signed around 400 work visa executive orders, many of which suspended new work visas to the US.
As a result, tens of thousands of qualified foreign individuals were barred from being hired by US companies, and firms in the US – the leading skilled migration destination in the world – lost a whopping US$100 billion from their market value.
In his election campaign, incoming President Joe Biden promised to relax the “irresponsible and inhumane” immigration policies set by his predecessor, with many significant changes being brought about inside the first 100 days.
It is presumed Biden will start working with Congress immediately after his inauguration as President to increase the cap on allocated permanent skilled migration visas, improve and increase opportunities for legal migration to the US, revamp the high-skill and temporary work visa systems, provide a roadmap to citizenship for eligible immigrants, and reunite families in the country.
Biden has said he will work towards increasing the 140,000 places cap on employment-based visas and raising the number of permanent skilled migration visas offered to qualified applicants. Recent graduates of PhD programs in STEM fields in the US will also be exempted from being subjected to caps on permanent skilled migration visas, as Biden believes foreign graduates of a US doctoral program are invaluable to the future of the country and that they merit a green card with their degree.
The Biden administration is also widely expected to modernize America’s immigration system by abolishing the stringent policy on refusing entry to talented immigrants. In what is arguably the most important immigration policy reform under the new administration, Joe Biden has promised to integrate new and skilled immigrants from every part of the world into US communities and give them a chance to live the American dream, and revitalize the US economy on the way. New immigrants are set to have access to support on a range of issues, such as language learning, workforce training, entrepreneurship and financial management, and guidance on the citizenship naturalization process, to name a few.
In addition, Biden will tackle the high-skilled work visa issues by working with Congress to establish a wage-based allocation process in sync with the labor market, which will enable the expansion of the number of high-skilled work visas and eliminate limits on employment-based visas by country.
For temporary work visas, Biden is also expected to focus on reforming the visa program for temporary workers in US industries. The current system is a clumsy and rigid accommodation for seasonal workers with low wages, and Biden – in tandem with Congress – is supposedly set to reform the current temporary visa system by ensuring foreign workers earn a fair share of the prevailing wage. Foreign workers will also be allowed to switch jobs and contribute to boosting the local economies, and protecting foreign workers from being exploited will also go a long way to changing the US immigration policy for the better.
Moreover, Biden has made restoring and defending the naturalization process for green card holders a top priority, with his administration set to streamline and improve the process for green card holders to obtain American citizenship. To deliver on this promise, Biden has stated he will quicken application processing times and eliminate unreasonable fees to restore people’s faith in the American roadmap to obtaining the right to vote.
Biden has also vowed to “immediately reverse” border separation between parents and their children by prioritizing the reunification of any children separated from their families at the US border and ensuring no family suffers such cruel hardships.
All in all, a lot is expected of Joe Biden, and everything is there for him to do, but only time will tell if he can undo the damage left for him to fix, bring back the soul of the Statue of Liberty and make America the land of immigrants once again.