The Biden administration wants the US Congress to update the â€œwoefully outdatedâ€ immigration system, including the temporary visa programs like the H-1B visa for high skilled foreign workers coveted by Indians.
â€œAs we have said many times before: This is an outdated immigration system,â€ White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday in response to a question 56 lawmakersâ€™ request to help H-1B workers in light of concerns about Canada recruiting H-1B holders from the US.
â€œWeâ€™ve asked Congress to update our woefully outdated immigration system. Weâ€™ve been very clear on that including the temporary visa programs that havenâ€™t been updated in more than two decadesâ€ she said.
On July 28, 56 US House members, led by Indian American Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Larry Bucshon, (R-IN) had sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas requesting the Biden Administration to take executive action to provide relief to high-skilled employment-based visa holders.
Asked if the administration agreed with these lawmakers that H-1B workers need more flexibility to do things like change jobs or travel abroad, Jean-Pierre sought to put the ball back in the Congressâ€™ court.
â€œUnder current regulations, as you know, workers on certain temporary visas usually have 60 days to secure new employment, pursue a different visa classification, or make preparations to depart the United States,â€ she noted.
â€œSo, Congress needs to do their job and pass legislation updating our immigration laws to reflect the needs of where we are currently in this 21st-century economy,â€ Jean-Pierre said.
â€œSo, look, the President, even on his first day â€” as weâ€™ve said many times before â€” he put forth an immigration-reform legislation, because he took this very seriously,â€ she said.
â€œHe wanted to make sure that was the first piece of legislation that he put forward on day one, because this is such a broken system,â€ Jean-Pierre said.
Asked if the administration was not willing to take executive action as asked for specifically by the lawmakers, the press secretary repeated, â€œWe are saying that Congress needs to do their job.â€
â€œThatâ€™s what weâ€™re saying. This has been two decades since this particular visa has been upgraded and updated. And so, itâ€™s for Congress to act. Thatâ€™s what they need to do.â€