Biden aims to rebuild and expand legal immigration: NYT

Joe Biden
President Joe Bide; Photo credit: White House

The White House wants to restore opportunities for foreign employees through the existing H-1B visa program.

Reversing his predecessor’s tough immigration policies President Joe Biden plans to significantly expand the legal immigration system including the H-1B visa program for high-skilled foreign workers, according the New York Times.

If Biden gets his way, it will soon be far easier to immigrate to the United States, the influential daily reported Monday citing a 46-page draft blueprint obtained by it mapping out his administration’s plans.

“There will be shorter, simpler forms and applicants will have to jump through fewer security hoops,” it said. “Foreigners will have better opportunities to join their families and more chances to secure work visas,” the Times said.

Titled “DHS Plan to Restore Trust in Our Legal Immigration System,” the blueprint, dated May 3 lists scores of initiatives intended to reopen the country to more immigrants, making good on the president’s promise to ensure America embraces its “character as a nation of opportunity and of welcome.”

READ: H-1B visa approvals should be for six years: US expert (May 24, 2021)

Divided into seven sections, the document offers detailed policy proposals that would help more foreigners move to the United States, including high-skilled workers, the Times said.

Biden wants to restore opportunities for foreign employees through the existing H-1B visa program, which is intended for workers with special skills, it said

The administration also intends to create new pathways for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to “start-up businesses and create jobs for US workers,” according to the document.

The Times cited critics as saying the Biden administration is ignoring the negative consequences of their efforts. The H-1B program has been attacked as a loophole for tech companies to import cheap foreign workers to compete for jobs, it noted.

Because of former President Donald J. Trump Trump’s immigration policies, the average time it takes to approve employer-sponsored green cards has doubled, it noted. The backlog for citizenship applications is up 80 percent since 2014, to more than 900,000 cases.

READ: 80,000 Indian children in green card backlog risk aging out (November 30, 2020)

Approval for the U-visa program, which grants legal status for immigrants willing to help the police, has gone from five months to roughly five years, it said.

In almost every case over the last four years, immigrating to the United States has become harder, more expensive and takes longer, the Times noted.

Even with a more restrictive and slower immigration system, about one million people obtained green cards in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic. Most had been waiting for years. In the final year of the Obama administration, 1.2 million people received green cards.

Most of the proposed changes could be put into practice without passage of Biden’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people living in the United States but has stalled in a bitterly divided Congress, the Times said.

While surveys show that most Americans support increased immigration, many Republican voters have eagerly backed Trump’s more restrictive policies.

Most research has shown that legal immigration to the United States has benefits for the country’s economy, especially at a time when the country’s population growth is slowing, the Times noted.

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