Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States of America today. He signed 17 executive orders and plans to sign a number of orders in the upcoming days. We will track all immigration policy updates related to H1B, H4 EAD, Employment based Green Card, F1 Visa, Travel Ban, Other relevant topics in this article, as they are relevant to our audience. We will update this article as new actions are taken. We have divided the article into sections for easy review of updates.
H1B, L1 Visa holders Travel Ban
As of Jan 20th, 2021, there is no executive order or proclamation signed by President Joe Biden to cancel the Trump H1B, L1 Travel ban proclamation. As of today, it remains in effect until March 31st, 2021.
Rumors : The rumors in news are that they may be happening next week (Jan 25th week, maybe Jan 29th). It may happen earlier or later, need to wait and see. Stay tuned.
H1B Visa Changes – Clients to file H1B Petition, LCA, Cap Count
As of Jan 20th, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order to put a hold on all of the regulations that are going to be effective soon. As per that order, any regulations that was sent to Office of Federal Register (OFR) but not published in Federal register have to be withdrawn and reviewed & approved and other not yet effective have to be delayed by 60 days for review and approval.
DOL – LCA by end Clients : US Dept of Labor gave guidance that end clients need to file H1B LCAs based on a DHS rule that was going to be published in Federal Register. It was no published as expected on time and also Biden order stops publishing it. DOL published a press release indicating that the LCA guidance for end client is not applicable anymore and their guidance is not effective. It goes back to before. See below screenshot of press release.
DHS End Client H1B Petition Final Rule: The USCIS Final rule on the H1B that mandates end clients to file separate petition was not published in Federal Register. As per Biden Executive order, it will not be published either. The DHS page for the same no longer exists now. So, this rule is not effective and not applicable. US Dept of Labor cancelled their LCA client rule as well. So, it is confirmed that the DHS rule is not effective.
H1B Cap Quota increase : There are speculations that there may be more done to increase the H1B cap numbers. But, as per the rumors floating around, there is no plan to increase the H1B quota cap. It may be still at current levels of 85,000 per year. We may not see this change for upcoming H1B Visa 2022 season.
H1B Lottery Wage Levels based : DHS published final regulation changing the H1B Lottery to be based on Wage Levels, it is set to be effective from March 9th, 2021. But, now due to the Executive order by Biden, this will be pushed by 60 days and there will be review of the same. As per the new change, the effective date will be March 21st, 2021. Now, as per their discretion, public may also get chance for submitting additional comments. Looking at the timing, this may be too tight timeline for H1B 2022 season as the time is short.
H4 EAD Changes
No formal update on H4 EAD changes. There are rumors floating around that H4 EAD will be made as part of the Comprehensive immigration reform and become a legislation by Congress. There may be possibility for children to get work permits too. Currently, the issue is that H4 EAD is not given by Congress by rather DHS regulation. This is one of the reasons for the H4 EAD Lawsuit that has been dragging for over 5 years.
Employment Based Green Cards – Country Caps, others
Update : We have a copy of the Draft of the Bill Sent. Read more at US Citizenship Act of 2021 – Green Card. The below item was from some credible news sources.
- Some news sources say “Exempting Spouses and children from the Green Card quota”. Basically count only the primary applicant towards the per country caps. This was not in the Bill text that was posted on WhiteHouse.gov press release.
F1 Visa – Fixed Time Period , PhD in STEM fields
PhD in STEM Areas : There are rumors floating around saying that PhD ( Doctoral Degree) Graduates in STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) areas would not be subject to the visa limits. It is not clear, how this will work. It is rumored to be part of the Comprehensive immigration bill. The rationale is that US is losing a lot of talent to other countries and there should be a path to retain the talent. This is also covered in the Bill sent to Congress by Biden.
F1 – Fixed Time period : The regulation that establishes fixed time period for F1 students, instead of Duration of Status(D/S) was also on the Trump’s agenda and did not make it to finish line and would very likely not implemented now.
DACA, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Other Actions
Below are some more actions as per the Bill that was sent to Congress by Biden, posted on WhiteHouse Website. We add few more based on updates from credible news outlets.
- Biden team plans to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform that focus on changing many of the policies. It will be headed by Rep. Linda Sanchez as per rumors.
- Eight-year pathway to citizenship for immigrations without proper legal status sin US. 5 years temporary status and path to green card after that, if passes certain conditions.
- Use of Technology, instead of Border wall for enforcement of border security. Halt border wall construction.
- Work with Central American countries on the root causes for migration and address with legislation.
- More protections for DREAMers and DACA recipients.
- Cancel of Muslim & African countries Travel Ban.
What do you think of the these changes ? Share your thoughts in comments.