The US will have a new President on January 20, 2021

The US will have a new President on January 20, 2021Following the last day of voting on November 4 and an extensive counting session that ran through the night for many days in many states, the votes have been tallied enough to state that the US will have a new President on January 20, 2021. Regardless of political party affiliation, everyone can agree that President Joe Biden will make changes to immigration policy and processing.

First, it is important to understand a couple of things.

To begin with, no changes will take place right now. President-elect Biden will not become President Biden until January, so any current policies and procedures remain in place until that date (at the earliest). Nothing changes today. Also, even after January, President Biden cannot pass laws regarding immigration on his own: Congress has the law-making power. The Senate remains Republican-controlled, so any immigration law will have to be a result of a compromise between the two major political parties. As a result, we are unlikely to see large changes in the law.

Second, President Biden will be able to change the administration of the immigration laws. Some of the most recognizable immigration policies are not laws at all, but are instead the result of executive orders. DACA, the program covering immigrants brought here as children and frequently called “Dreamers,” is one such program created through executive order. This program is likely to be re-activated in January. Another executive order concerning travel from certain countries (originally called the “Muslim Ban”). Biden likely will rescind that order fairly soon after becoming President as well.

Lastly, no one knows what else President Biden might do in the area of immigration or what he may be able to do based on the makeup of Congress. Rumors abound regarding if President Biden might extend TPS, especially for Venezuelans; end the Migrant Protection Program for asylum seekers at the Southern border; increase refugee admissions; and/or revise the H-1B or other employment-based immigration programs.

One aspect of a change in administrations is clear, however: any difference in priorities will take time to implement and we will all need to exercise patience. Change takes time and may not take the form that either you prefer or that would benefit your case the best. Depending on the facts of your case, waiting for a new administration may be the best plan, but waiting may also not help your case. Your attorney can discuss the possibilities and predictions with you to determine the best course of action for you personally.