The year 2023 marked a significant period for U.S. immigration policy under the Biden administration. Law360's detailed report by Britain Eakin highlights five pivotal immigration policy changes and proposals that have reshaped the landscape of immigration law in the United States. These developments are critical for both immigration attorneys and potential clients to understand, as they directly impact the legal framework and processes governing immigration.
1. Expansion of "Lawful Pathways"
A major stride in 2023 was the expansion of lawful pathways for migrants. President Biden, utilizing executive authority, broadened programs for migrants from various countries, including Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua. This move is seen as a transformative reform, creating more legal avenues for orderly migration and reducing pressure on the U.S.-Mexico border.
2. Restriction of Asylum Access
In contrast to expanding lawful pathways, the Biden administration also imposed the circumvention of the lawful pathways rule, which assumes migrants are ineligible for asylum unless specific conditions are met. This policy has faced legal challenges and criticism, particularly due to technical issues with the CBP One app and limited appointment availability for asylum seekers.
3. Proposed Overhaul of the H-1B Visa Program
The administration proposed significant changes to the H-1B visa program, aiming to crack down on fraudulent lottery registrations and enhance cap exemptions for nonprofit entities and research organizations. These proposed changes could greatly affect how specialty occupation visas are allocated and the overall process of H-1B visa applications.
4. Deferred Action for Labor and Enforcement
DHS streamlined the process for immigrant workers without permanent legal status to request deportation relief, particularly those reporting workplace violations or cooperating with federal labor investigations. This development is a positive step toward protecting vulnerable workers, though questions remain about the program's long-term impact.
5. Revised H-2A Wage Rule
The Biden administration revised the H-2A wage rule, impacting the determination of hourly wages for foreign farmworkers. This change, reverting to using the USDA Farm Labor Survey for wage determinations, has led to concerns among farming companies about potential increased labor costs.
These policy developments represent a dynamic and evolving immigration landscape in the United States. For immigration attorneys, staying abreast of these changes is crucial for providing accurate and effective legal advice to clients. These developments also underscore the importance of skilled legal representation in navigating the complexities of U.S. immigration law.
This blog is based on the article “Top 5 Immigration Policy Developments Of 2023” by Britain Eakin, published in Law360 on December 15, 2023.
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