This week, the federal judge in San Francisco said the Covid-19 pandemic cannot justify visa restrictions for the H-1B program, which benefits U.S. tech companies. According to judge Jeffrey White, “a large number of job vacancies remain in the areas most affected by Rules: computer operations which require high-skilled workers.”
Constraints on H-1B visas were introduced in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Two rules announced in October required companies to pay higher wages to foreign employees and introduced limits on specialty occupations.
Will U.S. be a nation of immigrants again?
Over the last several years, the combined disruption of Trump’s executive orders and Covid-19 managed to curtail business-related immigration without changing immigration law itself. Experts agree that It will take time to undo so much of the damage, which has also affected the U.S.’s reputation for openness and welcome. The Biden administration plans to expand immigration options for entrepreneurs who can contribute to the U.S. economy,
Visa processing times, however, will most likely remain the same: part of the slowdown is due to a lack of funds, since USCIS is fee-driven. By 2021 legal immigration to the U.S. is projected to drop by 49%, which means a corresponding drop in the fees that keep USCIS going.
The only visa that is still valid for entrepreneurs is an investor treatment E-2 visa, but it is not available for every country and does not provide permanent residential status. For the E-1 and E-2 visas, the countries whose citizens get to apply for them are determined by treaties between those countries and the U.S. New countries could be added to the list, but this will depend on American foreign policy.
By the end of 2022, attorneys expect, some type of comprehensive immigration reform will begin to take shape. However, if the U.S. Senate remains under Republican control, the Biden administration will not be able to change regulations, just as prior administrations were stymied by congressional opposition. Changes to the visa programs for investors and entrepreneurs will only come if Biden has the fortitude to make use of his executive order powers.
Lets hope we will see some dramatic change in 2021, because our economy needs the significant contribution that immigrant entrepreneurs have.