On February 24, 2021, the Biden administration revoked the harmful Presidential Proclamation banning entry of most immigrants to the U.S. first announced by the Trump administration on April 22, 2020. The ban was extended twice, most recently on December 31, 2020, through March 31, 2021.
The ban particularly harmed U.S. citizens and permanent residents whose spouses, children, or in the case of U.S. citizens, parents, were unable to be issued visas or to enter the U.S. to be united with their immediate family members here, despite already having been approved to immigrate. The Migration Policy Institute estimated the ban prevented about 26,000 intending immigrants per month from coming to the U.S.
It also robbed those selected to immigrate in the FY 2020 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery, who must enter the U.S. before March 30, 2021 or see their chance to immigrate evaporate completely. Several of those selected in the DV lottery sued the U.S., and on February 19, 2021, a federal court ordered the government to preserve the validity of FY 2020 Diversity visas for those barred from entry due to the ban.
By its stated terms, the entry ban was not created as a public health measure during the pandemic (which could have been accomplished by requiring new immigrants to quarantine after their arrival), but rather, to prevent job competition, despite the fact that even during the pandemic, in many sectors, ranging from the food supply chain and hospitality to high tech, unemployment rates remained relatively low and employers struggled to fill jobs.
The immigrant entry ban’s revocation is welcome news. Unfortunately, the Biden administration did not revoke the Trump administration’s ban on entry of most foreign temporary workers, which is due to expire on March 31, 2021. However, on the same date as the revocation of the immigrant entry ban, the U.S. State Department announced a broad expansion of the types circumstances that could qualify for a waiver of the nonimmigrant worker entry ban.