As we conclude February, we are hopeful for the future of immigration reform in the United States. This week we saw positive changes from the Biden Administration regarding the current visa bans as well as the naturalization exam. We are also excited to highlight Fiona’s recent media interview with Bloomberg Law and an article about an interesting immigration innovation in Minnesota.
1.Proclamation on Revoking Proclamation 10014 — Wednesday, February 24th
On Wednesday, February 24th, President Biden Revoked Proclamation 10014. This proclamation, introduced under former President Trump, created a visa ban on green card issuance in 2020. The Trump administration claimed that this would protect the U.S. job market. Biden stated that Proclamation 10014, “harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world.”
Each year the United States grants as many as 55,000 visas in the Diversity Visa program. 2020 and 2021 winners have been barred from entering the U.S. and some have even seen their visas already expire. There are estimates that state as many as 120,000 family-based visas were lost due to Proclamation 10014, this adds to the growing backlog of about 473,000 family-based visas. The backlogs are still a serious problem, but this order is at least one reason to be optimistic. We can begin to see families reunited and Diversity Lottery winners enter the U.S. without fear of being denied entry. We know that immigration reform will be a long journey, but today, we are excited to celebrate this victory.
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2.McEntee in the Media: “Lawmakers Revisit Changes to H-1B Lottery in Immigration Plan” — Thursday, February 18th
Fiona McEntee, Managing Partner, recently spoke with Bloomberg Law about the new proposed changes to the H-1B lottery “and the possible consequences of a system with waged-based priority.” The article specifically references possible changes proposed in the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, section 3407 of the bill covers “wage-based consideration of temporary workers”. To learn more about the sweeping immigration bill, please view our blog post from last week on the topic. Any changes to the H1-B lottery proposed in this bill will not affect the 2021 procedures but could have consequences in 2022. The article goes on to talk about the potential consequences of wage-based priority. Fiona specifically raised concerns for foreign students graduating from U.S. colleges and universities. Stating that these students may be at risk of not: commanding salaries that would be at the top of the wage levels.” Overall, this article did a wonderful job of portraying our thoughts on the need for an equitable H-1B lottery and the extreme consequences that could come from a system with waged-based priority. We are always extremely grateful to the media outlets and reporters that let us speak on immigration reform and share our informed opinion on new developments.
“We don’t want to be the country that only has visas for extraordinary, or executive, or bust. We should be striving for an immigration policy where there’s room for everybody.”
3.Biden Administration Announces Return to 2008 Naturalization Exam — Monday, February 22nd
On Monday, February 22nd, the Biden Administration announced they will be returning to the 2008 version of the naturalization exam. They will be scrapping the Trump administration naturalization exam, which made the exam longer and more difficult. The 2020 version changed the possible question pool from 100 to 128 and required participants to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly, as opposed to 6 out of 10 (the requirement from the 2008 version). The test was also widely contested due to its “conservative bias”, one specific example being the disproportionate number of questions about the Federalist Papers (5 questions) as opposed to questions about the Civil Rights Movement (2 questions). There was also concern due to the lack of notice before the implementation of the 2020 naturalization exam. We are glad to see that the Biden Administration has chosen to revert to the 2008 version of the exam, we believe this version contains fewer political biases and creates a fairer testing procedure for naturalization applicants.
4. Immigration Innovation: The Coalition of Asian American Leaders Release Resource Map for Minnesota Immigrants — Wednesday, February 24th
McEntee Law has had the privilege of representing a variety of immigrant tech entrepreneurs and we love to highlight technical innovations in the immigration field. We were blown away by the amazing work being done by The Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL) in Minnesota and wanted to share it with you all. In 2019, they conducted a community scan and produced a report on the current experiences and struggles of Asian immigrants in Minnesota. One key takeaway from the report was the challenge immigrants were having finding credible immigration experts. To address this problem, the CAAL got to work creating the immigration community resource map, described as “a visual mapping of community resources that provide critical services to the immigrant and refugee communities.” Thursday evening they hosted an online event to officially launch the map and provide a usage tutorial. It is important to note the map currently only includes Minnesota resources and most resources are geared toward Asian immigrants and refugees.
“One of the recurring themes was that people just didn’t know where to go to get help for their immigration needs or their individual concerns… A digital map is nice because we can change it, we can add more to it. We wanted something easy for communities to use and can be adaptable to different resources.”
-Jenny Srey CAAL lead organizer for safe and welcoming communities (originally quoted for Sahan Journal)
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