On February 24, 2021, President Joe Biden rescinded the Immigrant Visa Ban implemented by the Trump Administration on April 22, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A copy of the new proclamation can be found here. The original proclamation signed by former President Donald Trump was initially set to expire after 60 days but was ultimately extended through March 31, 2021, prior to President Biden’s recession.
Former President Donald Trump signed the original proclamation, arguing that immigrants were a risk to the U.S. labor market amid the COVID-19 pandemic. President Biden, however, believes “that shutting the door on legal immigrants ‘does not advance the interests of the United States.’” The original proclamation prevented hundreds of thousands of immigrants from reuniting with their United States citizen and lawful permanent resident family members in the United States.
According to the Associated Press, “as many as 120,000 family-based preference visas were lost largely because of the pandemic-related freeze in the 2020 budget year.” The main exception to the proclamation included spouses and children (under the age of 21) of United States citizens. The proclamation also prohibited the entry of diversity visa recipients as well as most employment-based visas.
Immigration lawyers and advocates applauded this current move by the Biden Administration, which follows the recession of the Muslim Ban earlier this year. However, the Biden Administration has yet to address the current ban on non-immigrant visas.
Since the start of his campaign, President Biden has outlined an ambitious immigration agenda, which would hopefully reverse the damage wrought by the Trump Administration. While President Biden has signed many executive orders relating to immigration, there is still a long way to go. The long-term solution to reform the current immigration system will require legislation. Immigrant advocates remain hopeful that the Biden Administration will be able to bring about much needed change within immigration law over the next four years.