Summary of Biden Executive Orders on Immigration

January 22, 2021

On January 20, 2021, shortly after his swearing in, President Joseph R. Biden took swift action to revise Trump-era immigration practices and reaffirm the United States’ commitment to immigrants, issuing several immigration-related executive actions and sending a proposed immigration bill to Congress.  These first-day actions have the potential to affect all facets of the immigration system, including for employment-based immigrants and family-based immigrants.

A brief summary of President Biden’s first day actions is below, and please stay posted to our website for further updates.  We will be following all immigration-related developments closely. President Biden is expected to issue further immigration-related executive actions on January 29, 2021.

Regulatory Freeze

The White House Chief of Staff issued a memo pausing any of the outgoing Trump-Administration’s “midnight” regulations from taking effect.  The new administration has adopted a 60-day delayed effective date for the new rules to give them time to review their legality and efficacy. This includes the delay of the effective date of a final rule to end the H-1B visa lottery.  In addition, the regulatory freeze stops the implementation of Trump Administration rules that had yet to be finalized, such as those requiring biometrics from more individuals and making it harder to apply for asylum.

Executive Actions

  • Revision of Immigration Enforcement Practices: The outgoing Trump Administration’s aggressive immigration enforcement practices stemmed from an executive order and subsequent policy memos issued at the beginning of that presidential administration. The Biden Administration has now rescinded all of those orders and, beginning February 1, 2021, DHS is directed to prioritize the removal of recent entrants and those who may pose a security risk. President Biden has also placed a 100-day moratorium on all deportations.


  • Ending the Muslim Ban: Rescinds the ban on immigration from several Muslim-majority nations.


  • Curtailing MPP (“Remain in Mexico”): MPP has forced asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. border with Mexico to remain in Mexico while pursuing their asylum claims in U.S. immigration courts.  President Biden has ordered that no new asylum seekers be enrolled in this program.


  • Defunding the border wall: President Biden has lifted the “emergency” declaration which diverted government funds to pay for the border wall. This has the immediate effect of pausing any ongoing construction on the border wall. 


  • Protecting DACA: President Biden has ordered the administration to “preserve and fortify” DACA.


  • Reinstating Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians: Allowing Liberians in the United States to once again apply for protection from removal and employment authorization recognizing, among other things, that “the United States has provided a safe haven for Liberians who were forced to flee their country as a result of armed conflict and widespread civil strife.”

Proposed Immigration Reform Bill

The Biden Administration’s proposed immigration reform bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, contains many provisions including the following.

  • A pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021.
  • Employment-based immigration reforms, including clearing backlogs, increasing per-country caps, providing work authorization for H-4 spouses, and allowing STEM graduates to more easily remain and work in the U.S.
  • Family-based immigration reforms, including clearing backlogs and eliminating the three- and ten-year bar.

We will be following all developments as this proposed immigration reform bill makes its way through Congress. As those changes become more clear, our attorneys and staff are ready and available to assist you and your family or business.




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