Processing of non-immigrant visas, including H1B cases, are taking a backseat for now as the Joe Biden government turns its attention to more than 470,000 immigrant visa cases currently pending in US consulates across the globe – a 7x year on year uptick in this category since January 2020, as per latest data from US government.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas was non-committal on whether Trump-era bans on H1B (which expires on 31st March). That would be lifted or how the Biden government intends to proceed. “You know, I don’t really – I hate to end the questioning on a question, the answer to which I am not certain,” he said at a White House briefing Monday. “Individuals fleeing persecution” is a high priority, Mayorkas explained.
Highlighting the US job market meltdown during the pandemic. Previous President Donald Trump had frozen permanent residency for immigrants. And also stopped temporary work visas for skilled workers, managers, and au pairs in the H-1B, H-4, H-2B, L-1, and J categories.
On 24th February 2021, the Biden government gave an announcement revoking the Trump ban that blocked people from entering the United States on immigrant visas. However, didn’t lift the freeze on H-1B, J-1, and L-1 visas. Which remain in effect and are set to expire on 31st March 2021.
Joe Biden focuses on 470,000 pending immigrant visa cases
In two separate briefings on Monday, the Biden government clarified that non-immigrant visa cases are not the priority right now.
“We have prioritized the processing of immigrant visas. Full stop” said Julie Stufft, Consular Affairs Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services. Julie Stufft said the US will keep on focusing on immigrant visas for spouses and children of US residents. Restrictions remain in place on visa issuance and entry into the United States for individuals from China, Iran, Brazil, UK, Ireland, South Africa, and 26 nations of the Schengen area. However, exemptions are made for spouses and children of US residents and legal permanent residents.
As of now, more than 90% of America’s 136 immigrant visa processing posts are processing “some immigrant visa services”. While the remainder is only able to deliver emergency services. Just 43 of 233 nonimmigrant visa processing posts are processing routine nonimmigrants, all the others are just doing emergency services.