On February 25, 2021, President Joe Biden removed a Trump-era ban that had blocked the withholding of green cards until the end of 2020. Lawyers claim that the halt blocked most legal immigration to the United States.
Former President Trump made the ban law, and said it protected the job market from the results caused by COVID-19. Then on December 31, 2020, Trump, extended those orders until the end of March, and denied legal immigrants entry into the U.S. through Proclamations 10014 and 10052.
According to the American Immigrant Lawyers Association, approximately 120,000 family-based preference visas were lost mainly due to the pandemic-related halt in FY 2020. Unless these immigrants were U.S. citizens who applied for visas for their spouses or children under 21 years old, they could not bring over loved ones.
In addition, immigrants with employment-based visas who were not healthcare professionals or in occupations that benefited national interests were denied entry into the country. Lastly, thousands of visa lottery winners were also denied entry.
While the Biden administration immediately removed Trump’s travel ban against mostly Muslim-majority countries within his first few days of office, some immigrants affected by this travel ban discovered they still could not enter the U.S. due to the temporary halt of their green cards.
Biden’s removal of the halt came only days after thousands of visa lottery winners with expiring visas won a court order that places their visas on hold. Now, these immigrants may use their visas to enter the U.S.
According to Biden’s open immigration bill, he proposes an increase in the number of diversity visas available through the annual lottery from 55,000 to 80,000. Additionally, President Biden wishes to limit presidential authority to issue bans against immigrants in the future.