Since his election to office, President Joe Biden has introduced several executive actions and related legal measures to improve US immigration. Many of these changes will affect the functioning of government agencies like the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the application and petition process of many visa categories.
Currently, the USCIS is facing many challenges including long waiting times, higher denial rates and an increasing backlog of pending applications. The agency may have to lay off employees due to higher operational costs that outpace the fee collected.
President Biden has directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify issues that hinder access to immigration benefits and ensure that these benefits are adjudicated fairly under an executive order. This executive order is known as ‘Restoring Faith in Our Legal Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.’
What Effect Will This Executive Order Have on US Immigration?
Deference to Past Decisions:
The USCIS recently announced a policy guideline instructing officials to defer to previous determinations when deciding on extension requests. Before former President Trump was in office, the USCIS had a long-standing policy that required officials to defer to previous determinations when adjudicating visa extension requests of the concerned applicant. It means that a Green Card, Permanent Resident Card renewal must be processed quickly unless there was new information that would require further review. A renewal for a DACA permit must be generally approved unless new factors suggest that the applicant is no longer eligible.
This policy guideline ensured lower processing times and a faster renewal process.
However, in 2017, this policy was revoked by the Trump administration. The USCIS officials were instructed to review in-depth for visa extensions, which increased the denial rate and cost the agency more money and time. By reinstating this policy guideline, President Biden hopes to save USCIS officials a lot of effort and increase processing times for visa extensions.