What to expect from the elected Biden-Harris Administration on Immigration

Immigration is one of the most controversial points of difference between the presidential campaigns of Joe Biden and Donald Trump. As the newly elected president, Biden is committed to drastically changing the tone the White House uses to deal with immigration.

“For generations, immigrants have fortified our most valuable competitive advantageour spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.” Joe Biden

Even though the subject is not one of the top four priorities of the  Biden-Harris transition plan (those are Covid-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change), their approach to immigration has merited a detailed section in their Government plan. 

The main considerations include:

  • Rescinding the travel bans imposed by Trump, such as the “Muslim ban” and the “H1-B ban”; 
  • Reforming visa programs and visa availability; 
  • Expanding protections for undocumented immigrants who report labor violations; 
  • Modernizing the US immigration system by improving cross-agency collaboration and investing in better technology;

The plan includes  other ideas such as welcoming immigrants in communities through a myriad of actions such as supporting entrepreneur incubators targeted to immigrants; doubling the number of immigration judges, court staff, and interpreters; and establishing Offices of Immigrant Affairs in city halls or at the county and state levels.

New Visa Categories

There is also a plan to create a new visa category to allow cities and counties to petition for higher numbers of immigrants to support their growth and a plan to reform the visa program for temporary workers in select industries. Altogether, this promises a significant change from the policies of the current administration. But implementing such plans, if it occurs, will not come without challenges.

“Immigration is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future.” Joe Biden

There will certainly be roadblocks in the US House of Representatives and the Senate, particularly because, as of mid-November, it is unknown whether the Democrats or the Republicans will form the majority of either body of Congress. However, just as Trump demonstrated, a president can still accomplish a lot without necessarily going through the legislative process, through executive orders and the adjustment of regulations.

A New Focus on EB-5 & E-2

It is also expected that this shift in views and tone on immigration should bring more attention to investment visa types such as E-2 and EB-5. The Biden-Harris immigration plan reports that immigrants already contribute considerably to the US economy. Citing a Brookings Institute report, the plan says that research suggests that “the total annual contribution of foreign-born workers is roughly $2 trillion.” Investment visa programs can be an attractive way to fund the country’s economy post-Covid recovery, as seen in Canada, for example. 

Considering the recent promising results for a vaccine against Covid-19, the new administration is likely to face even greater pressure to spur the US economy. The need for recovery and the likelihood of federal policies more open to immigrant workers and entrepreneurs seem to be on the horizon for those looking to live the American Dream.

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