President-elect Joe Biden has pledged in the first 100 days of his administration to set in motion a number of immigration-related actions. Some of his proposals could be launched immediately, while others may require new regulations or Congressional action. Trump administration rules finalized before President Trump leaves office are likely to require a lengthy regulatory process to change, unless the Congressional Review Act is invoked, which would allow Congress to override regulations finalized within 60 days of the new session of Congress.
A non-exhaustive list of employment, labor, and student-related highlights of President-elect Biden’s immigration plans includes:
- Reforming the visa program for temporary workers in select industries that depend on seasonal and short-term workers. President-elect Biden pledges to work with Congress to allow workers in certain industries to switch jobs and certify the labor market’s need for foreign workers. “Employers should be able to supply data showing a lack of labor availability and the harm that would result if temporary workers were unavailable,” the plan states. He also pledges “strong safeguards that require employers to pay a fair calculation of the prevailing wage and ensure the right of all workers to join a union and exercise their labor rights.”
- Ensuring that high-skilled temporary visas “not be used to disincentivize recruiting workers already in the U.S. for in-demand occupations.” The plan states that President-elect Biden will work with Congress to establish a “wage-based allocation process” and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that temporary visas are aligned with the labor market “and not used to undermine wages.” His plan also supports expanding the number of high-skilled work visas.
- Eliminating the limits on employment-based green cards by country.
- Providing “a path to legalization for agricultural workers who have worked for years on U.S. farms and continue to work in agriculture.”
- Supporting family-based immigration. Under the plan, “any approved applicant” could receive a temporary nonimmigrant visa until their permanent visa is processed. Spouses and children of green card holders would be treated as immediate relatives and would be exempted from caps. Parents could bring their minor children with them when they immigrate to the United States.
- Increasing the number of visas for permanent, work-based immigration based on macroeconomic conditions. President-elect Biden pledges to work with Congress “to increase the number of visas awarded for permanent, employment-based immigration – and promote mechanisms to temporarily reduce the number of visas during times of high U.S. unemployment.” He will also “exempt from any cap recent graduates of PhD programs in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] fields” in the U.S. President-elect Biden “believes that foreign graduates of a U.S. doctoral program should be given a green card with their degree and that losing these highly trained workers to foreign economies is a disservice to our own economic competitiveness.”
- Creating a new visa category to allow cities and counties to petition for higher levels of immigrants to support their growth.
- Enforcing rules to protect both U.S. and foreign workers and focusing on “abusive employers.”
- Expanding protections for undocumented immigrants who report labor violations.
- Expanding labor rights and protections for farmworkers and domestic workers.
- Reinstating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and ensuring that Dreamers are eligible for federal student aid.
- Ordering an immediate review of temporary protected status (TPS) and offering TPS holders who have been in the United States for an “extended period of time” and who have “built lives in the U.S.” a “path to citizenship through legislative immigration reform.”
- Rescinding “Muslim bans.”
President-elect Biden also plans to develop and implement a comprehensive, multinational, four-year regional strategy to address factors driving migration from Central America, including convening a regional meeting of leaders to propose solutions.