Starting on January 26, 2021, all airline passengers traveling to the U.S. from a foreign country will be required to provide a negative COVID test (taken within 72 hours of departure).
On January 25, 2021, President Biden issued a proclamation extending COVID-related travel restrictions on individuals traveling to the U.S. from the Schengen Area, the U.K., Ireland & Brazil. Additionally, the order adds travel restrictions on individuals traveling to the U.S. from South Africa. The proclamation goes in effect on January 26, 2021 (January 30, 2021 for individuals traveling to the U.S. from South Africa) and is in effect indefinitely until the President lifts the travel ban(s). The proclamation will be reviewed on a month by month basis. Additionally, the previous restrictions on individuals from Iran and China are still in effect.
On January 21, 2020, President Biden signed six presidential executive actions that will affect immigration and visas in the U.S. immediately.
DACA: President Biden has instructed the Department of Homeland Security to preserve and fortify the DACA program and calls for legislation to provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.
Deportation of Liberians: Due to foreign policy reasons, President Biden reinstated and extended Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians that are currently present in the U.S. Granting qualifying applicants protection from deportation, work authorization, and the opportunity to apply for adjustment of status (green card).
The Border Wall: Former President Donald Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border to allocate funds to construct a wall along the border. President Biden terminated the declaration of a national emergency, halted construction of the wall, and plans to reallocate funds to other methods of securing the border.
Census: To ensure that all inhabitants and those living in the U.S. are equally represented, President Biden revoked the previous administration’s order to include immigration status in the national census.
Immigration Enforcement: A previous executive action signed by former President Trump broadly increased interior immigration enforcement by encouraging local authorities to enforce federal immigration laws, and stripped funding from “sanctuary cities”. President Biden revoked this order and will adhere to previous policies regarding the enforcement of civil immigration violations.
Discriminatory Bans on Entry: The so-called “Muslim Ban” was several presidential proclamations and executive orders that prohibited people from primarily Muslim countries from seeking admission into the U.S. People from these countries will once again have the ability to apply for visas/admission and the current administration plans to assess the harms caused by the discriminatory bans.
A memo regarding pending regulatory actions issued by White House Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, states that pending rules at the Federal Register that have not been published yet must be withdrawn. Also, the effective dates the the rules that have been published but have not taken effect may be postponed.
As a result, the “Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program Final Rule” will be immediately withdrawn. The rule meant to “clarify” how USCIS determines whether there is an “employer-employee relationship” to qualify as a “U.S. Employer.”
The effective date of the “H-1B Wage Selection Final Rule.” will be postponed until March 21, 21. The rule replaced the annual H-1B visa lottery that randomly selects foreign professionals with a process that prioritizes those offered the highest salaries for their occupation and geographic area.
In addition to the signing several executive orders on his first day in office, President Biden has also sent the “U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021” to Congress. U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has announced that he will lead the legislative effort in the Senate to introduce the bill. Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA) announced that she will lead the introduction of the bill House of Representatives. The Biden-Harris bill calls for immigration reform that will modernize the current immigration policies to treat noncitizens more humanly and will stimulate the economy.