When it comes to immigration, the Biden administration has its work cut out for it. And that is an understatement. Among the slew of challenges the new president and his team face are the huge backlog of 2.6 million visa applications, remnants of the previous presidential administration. Backlogs for specific immigrant-visa classifications are as much as 100 times more than at the start of the Trump administration in 2017.
This backlog includes close to 500,000 applicants considered “documentarily qualified,” a group that is ready for interviews, according to the U.S. State Department. Many of the backlogs are attributed to the restrictions implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, others relate to Trump administration policies put into place before the pandemic.
Some policies reversed
Many of the Trump-era policies continue to receive scrutiny from the Biden administration. Among them include policies addressing dubious terrorism labels and increased background checks.
In addition, the Biden administration has reversed some immigration-related actions implemented during the Trump era. For example, it revoked a travel ban related to countries primarily with majority Muslim populations and reversed an order that rejected specific immigration or asylum applications because applicants left blank certain areas on their forms.
And in a related issue, the State Department announced on April 8 that it would reverse a previous policy tied to regional travel restrictions caused by the pandemic. The change allows people pursuing immigrant and fiancée visas to apply for them.
The U.S. government continues to give the necessary attention to immigration-related issues. Optimism among some immigrant communities may be growing with the Biden administration’s recent actions. However, cautiousness continues to be held by many.