It’s been several months since the Biden administration ended a ban on immigrant visas ordered by former President Trump. But most foreign workers are still unable to reach the United States.
The main reasons include continued travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, processing backlogs at the U.S. Department of State and increased competition from other nations.
Which visas are most affected?
President Biden’s decision to end the ban on temporary work-based visas opened the door for thousands of foreign skilled and unskilled workers seeking these documents:
Factors keeping foreign workers out of the country
The Trump-era efforts to restrict all forms of immigration are only one factor keeping much-needed foreign workers from getting to the U.S. The top three are:
- Processing backlog: CNN reports the State Department is wading through 2.6 million applicants, including those of nearly half a million qualified workers who are ready for the interview process. These backlogs are up to 100 times greater than before the Trump administration.
- Foreign competition: While the U.S. sought to restrict work- and family-based immigrants from entering the country, other nations, such as Canada, relaxed their immigration processes, making them more receptive to foreign workers.
- Travel restrictions: The pandemic complicated everything, including the visa process, as nations implemented different travel rules and regulations affecting air travel. Some countries and airlines have stricter rules for passengers.
The U.S. economy continues to feel the impact
What these factors all lead to is a record number of job openings for U.S. employers. The shortage has become so critical that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been advocating for political leaders to increase the number of employment-based visas.
Businesses are turning down jobs because they don’t have enough workers. The Chamber says the White House and Congress should double the H-1B cap for skilled temporary workers and H-2B visas for seasonal employees and revamp the nation’s immigration system.