Updated: May 24
Back in April 2020, during the very initial days of the pandemic ex-president Trump issued proclamation 10014 suspending green card applications and a range of immigrant visas to protect the US labor market from immigrants and make more jobs available for US citizens. The move aimed to protect US workers amid high unemployment was supposed to stay till March 2021 after it got extended from its original deadline of December 2020. Permanent residency applications or green cards for new immigrants had stopped along with temporary work visas in the H-1B, H-4, H-2B, L-1 and J categories.
On 24th February, 2021, the Biden administration revoked the ban set by Trump on the grounds that it harms the United States and does not advance its interests. It further prevented family members of US citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families. The revocation allows family members of US citizens and lawful permanent residents to immigrate. Although, the ban on many of the most important visa categories for temporary workers and trainees across the H-1B, J, L, and H-2B, etc. hasn’t been revoked yet and stays till 31st March.
But even these could be lifted in advance given how many immigrant groups and companies are mounting pressure on the government to fill many vacant positions in their companies.
Even though the move is a positive sign for everyone including Indians looking to immigrate, the benefits are far from sight as the visa freeze would’ve resulted in a huge backlog of already existing applications which need to be cleared before new applications start getting processed. The task for the U.S consulates and embassies now remains to tackle the growing backlog of applications held up for months as the pandemic shut down most visa processing by the State Department. Most locations that have re-opened visa processing have done so in a severely limited manner, meaning there are likely to be extensive delays in scheduling immigrant visa interviews.
Moreover, the Department of State has released guidance for Immigrant visa applicants in pursuance to the rescission. These include those applicants whose applications were previously refused, those who were scheduled for an interview or not yet interviewed, instructions for those holding diversity visa, etc. More details and FAQ’s on the same can be found on the state department’s website.