Trump’s visa ban allowed to lapse by Biden White House
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Metal sculpture of the US National Eagle outside the US Embassy in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin

A Trump-era order banning the issuance of new non-immigrant or temporary visas has been allowed to quietly lapse by President Joe Biden in a move that will be welcomed by both US and multinational employers.

On 22 June 2020, the Trump administration issued Presidential Proclamation 10052, which established entry restrictions on certain work visas. The categories affected were H-1B speciality occupation visas, H-2B temporary workers, L-1A and L-1B intracompany transferees, and J-1 visas for those seeking participation in an intern, trainee, teacher, or summer work programmes, as well as visas for relevant dependent family members in each category.

The ban, part of President Donald Trump’s “American first recovery” plan designed to deal with the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, was initially set to expire on 31 December 2020, but was extended by the outgoing administration to 31 March 2021.

In early March, a group of five senators wrote to President Biden asking him to let the proclamation lapse so foreign workers could fill tech jobs that have remained open or moved permanently overseas during the covid crisis.

“Looking ahead to long-term economic recovery, the deficit of foreign workers to fill available American tech jobs will worsen through any further lack of access to foreign talent,” the lawmakers wrote. “Every day these visa bans remain in place undermines our collective vision for a new, more prosperous, and welcoming nation.”

“Rather than attracting talented individuals to the United States, allowing these bans to remain in effect makes the immigration system harder to navigate and drives foreign talent to other countries,” added Democratic Senators Michael Bennet, Jeanne Shaheen, Cory Booker, and Robert Menendez, and Maine Independent Angus King Jr.

As US consular posts around the world are still operating at reduced capacity, there will still be challenges to obtain visa issuance appointments for transferees

Although several of President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies were repealed just hours after he left office, the Biden White House has been slower to act on other controversial immigration policies introduced by the former administration.

In March 2021, the Biden administration said it would not defend a “wealth test” that made it easier for the federal government to deny green cards to immigrants. Now, with its passive rescinding of order 10052, it is questionable whether President Biden is set to continue his predecessor’s view that foreign workers are a threat to American jobs.

Nevertheless, the order’s lapse is good news for US employers that need to supplement their workforces with highly skilled foreign workers as well as multinational companies that have had key resources stranded abroad since last June, according to Eleanor Pelta, co-leader of Morgan Lewis & Bockius’ global employment and immigration practice.

“As US consular posts around the world are still operating at reduced capacity, there will still be challenges to obtain visa issuance appointments for transferees, and those travelling from countries with which we have covid-related entry restrictions will still have to deal with those barriers.”

Visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview will have their applications prioritised and processed under existing phased resumption of visa services guidance, said a US State Department statement

Visa applicants who were previously refused visas due to the restrictions may reapply by submitting a new application including a new fee.