President Biden on Wednesday revoked a Trump-era suspension of certain immigrant visas that had dramatically cut legal immigration to the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic.
When enacting them in April 2020, President Trump said the restrictions were necessary to prevent new immigrants from competing with U.S. workers in the labor market during the economic recession caused by the pandemic.
Mr. Trump used a broad executive power to prohibit the issuance of certain visas for prospective immigrants hoping to move to the U.S. permanently through petitions filed by their family members or prospective employers in the U.S. The restrictions also froze the diversity visa lottery, a program that allows immigrants from underrepresented countries, many of them in Africa, to come to the U.S.
Spouses and children 21 or younger of U.S. citizens were not subject to the immigrant visa limits, which also exempted some health care workers fighting the pandemic, as well as wealthy immigrants who agreed to invest more than $1 million in the U.S.
In his own proclamation Wednesday, Mr. Biden said the Trump-era immigrant visa ban did not “advance the interests” of the country.
“To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here,” Mr. Biden wrote. “It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world.”
The Biden administration had come under intensifying pressure from advocates to rescind Mr. Trump’s immigration limits, which were set to expire on March 31. Groups that favor drastic cuts to legal immigration supported Mr. Trump’s bans, arguing that they protected U.S. workers.
Mr. Biden’s proclamation on Wednesday did not revoke another set of pandemic-era restrictions Mr. Trump instituted to halt certain guest worker programs, including H-1B visas, which are popular in the technology sector.
Those restrictions, which have also halted visas for au pairs, non-agricultural seasonal laborers and other temporary workers, are set to expire at the end of March.