The Biden administration will resume issuing visas to foreign workers after allowing the expiration of a Trump-era ban, in a further easing of immigration restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
Former President Donald Trump banned the issuance of new worker visas commonly used by multinational companies last year in an attempt to force companies to hire American workers amid the pandemic as the unemployment rate soared in arrow. This ban expired on Wednesday.
The State Department confirmed Thursday that it will begin processing previously suspended visa applications and asked people who had been turned down due to the presidential ban to reapply.
He added, however, that US embassies and consulates still provided only “mission essential” visa services and were offered “post by post”.
Trump’s visa ban has affected a range of visas, including categories J, which are used by au pairs, L and H-1B, which are widely used by major US tech groups. The ban was challenged by US business groups, who criticized it as damaging the economy.
The American Chamber of Commerce and the National Manufacturers Association sued the Trump administration over the ban and obtained a temporary stay late last year to prevent its application while the case continued. Lawyers said the ruling only applied restrictively and the majority of companies did not benefit from it.
Immigration attorneys had asked Biden to actively reverse the visa ban for workers, instead of just letting it expire. However, while the president has made immigration reform a legislative priority, his first steps have focused on helping asylum seekers and refugees.
Early immigration decrees included stopping construction of a border wall with Mexico and setting up a task force to reunite separated children and parents on the southern border.
Biden was recently criticized by lawmakers for the number of children being held in the United States at the border after he suspended another Trump-era rule that allowed the immediate deportation of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the country.
Last month, Biden overturned a Trump ban on issuing new green cards, saying preventing lawful permanent residents from reuniting with their families in the United States was bad for the country.
“It also hurts industries in the United States that use talent from all over the world,” Biden said.
Despite the ban expiring, travel bans linked to Covid-19 remain in place, meaning most foreigners cannot travel to the United States.