In an official fact sheet released by the White House on January 5th, 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a series of new border enforcement actions that may impact migrants to the U.S. The fact sheet covers the administration’s plans regarding border security and immigration from Central and South American countries, including Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.
The announcement comes following failed attempts to repeal the Title 42 public health order invoked by the previous administration. This order restricted borders because of the pandemic and led to the deportation of more than two million people. Until the order expires, the following actions are intended to simplify immigration from affected countries while reducing illegal migration.
Immigration Policy Changes Announced by Biden-Harris Administration
The administration lists four primary directives in the January fact sheet. According to the announcement, the administration intends to:
- Increase Expedited Removals: People who do not have legal grounds to remain in the country will be removed at an expedited rate and subject to a five-year ban on re-entry.
- Increase Immigration Options for Specified Countries: Up to 30,000 Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Cubans per month will be eligible for two-year work visas in the U.S. if they have an eligible sponsor and pass appropriate background checks.
- Raise Western Hemisphere Refugee Quotas: The U.S. will triple refugee quotas from Caribbean and Latin American countries to 10,000 per year over fiscal years 2023 and 2024.
- Prepare an Online Portal for U.S. Ports of Entry: The U.S. will launch a new online portal allowing potential immigrants to file claims for entry into the country online instead of requiring them to present themselves in person and wait.
These changes are simple but may dramatically impact immigrants from Central and South America and the Caribbean. The intention is to “expand legal pathways for safe, orderly, and humane migration” while increasing the penalties for unlawful immigration. If it succeeds, people may have a significantly easier time receiving certain visas to enter the country.
How Changes to Immigration Policy May Impact Visa Holders
The border enforcement acts should not affect people in the U.S. if they are present in the country with a valid visa or green card. However, the increase in expedited removals may be cause for concern. While the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is responsible for doing its due diligence before deporting someone, it has been known to make mistakes.
An increase in expedited removals should not affect visa holders, but it may encourage a lack of consideration before deporting people. This may put people with H-1B visas who have been laid off at risk if they do not have clear evidence that they are pursuing new work. Similarly, it could pose issues for these workers and their families if their H-1B visas are not appropriately renewed and documented.
Will New Border Enforcement Actions Affect Employers?
New border enforcement actions should not directly affect employers who follow federal law regarding hiring international employees. In fact, it may grant these employers more hiring opportunities. By expanding access to the country to Central and South American refugees, the new guidelines may provide employers with a new pool of candidates from which to pull potential H-1B workers. These potential employees will not be expelled from the country immediately if their application is not chosen in the lottery, reducing the potential impact of an unsuccessful application.
In addition, the increase in legal pathways for immigrants may reduce overall pressure on H-1B applicants. It may reduce the overall number of applicants for these visas, reducing competition for the limited slots available.
Knowledgeable Legal Counsel for Employment Immigration Concerns
The Biden-Harris Administration’s new immigration enforcement actions demonstrate the current government’s dedication to reforming the process. While it is yet to be seen how this will impact businesses and those seeking employment visas, it is likely to be a positive change.
In the meantime, it is more important than ever to consult with a skilled immigration attorney throughout the process of sponsoring a foreign employee. The proven experts at Litwin & Smith are available to assist you with your immigration concerns. Learn more about how the changing political landscape may affect your H-1B application by scheduling your consultation today.