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Changes to the immigration laws announced by the Biden administration were included in an immigration bill it sent to Congress (but not yet publicly available), and include these proposals:

  • End the practice of requiring separate immigrant visa numbers for the spouse and children of the principal applicant.
    • Currently, for example, a “principal,” who is a skilled worker, and her noncitizen spouse and three children (the “derivatives”) are approved for green cards based on the principal’s eligibility. One visa number is issued to each of them. Since there is an annual limit of 140,000 on employment-based visa numbers, using employment-based numbers for derivatives substantially depletes the annual supply. If only one visa number was assigned to the principal and her derivatives, then more numbers would be available during the year for other workers.
  • End the per-country limitations on visa numbers. Each country is limited to a certain percentage of employment-based visa numbers in addition to the annual limit. This has created backlogs of many years for many born in India and China. This proposal is more controversial than the proposed change in counting derivatives, as removing the per-country limits would create longer waiting periods for noncitizens born in other countries if the annual limit remains fixed at 140,000.
  • Provide a faster path to a green card for noncitizen graduates with advanced STEM degrees from U.S. universities.
  • Prevent children of H-1B workers who are also in backlogs for immigrant visa numbers (for green cards) from becoming ineligible (“aging out”) when they become 21 years old.
  • Create a pilot program “to stimulate regional economic development” by allowing certain governmental entities to petition for foreign workers.
  • Various measures to “protect workers from exploitation and improve the employment verification process.”

The Biden administration has recognized that America is strengthened by having both American and foreign workers. But this administration must not allow the hateful messaging of the past four years to distract it from achieving the balance that Congress intended of welcoming employment-based immigration while protecting American workers.

FILED UNDER: Biden-Harris AdministrationH-1B

Posted in: Immigration