Unpublished blueprint draft shows Biden wants to expand legal immigration, reduce EB-5 backlogs

The New York Times has acquired a document that outlines Biden’s plans to make it “far easier to immigrate to the United States.” The Biden plan for legal immigration will undo Trump-era restrictions, address backlogs and delays, and make it easier for immigrant entrepreneurs who want to start business and create U.S. jobs.

What’s in the blueprint

Dated May 3, the blueprint is called “D.H.S. Plan to Restore Trust in Our Legal Immigration System,.” According to The New York Times, it “lists scores of initiatives intended to reopen the country to more immigrants.”

The draft comprises seven sections that provide detailed policy proposals, addressing various aspects of U.S. immigration, from high-skilled workers to asylum seekers. In broad terms, the blueprint will undo much of the efforts of the former administration to slow immigration, and instead will open the nation to legal immigration.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) chief of staff, Felicia Escobar, speaks to the sweeping nature of Biden’s plan: “There are significant changes that need to be made to really open up all avenues of legal immigration.”

Undoing Trump-era restrictions

The New York Times describes the Biden plan as “methodically reversing the efforts to dismantle [legal immigration] by former President Donald J. Trump.” The former administration doubled the average time to approve employer-sponsored Green Cards. And Trump’s rule increased the backlog for citizenship applications by 80% since 2014. The New York Times states, “In almost every case over the last four years, immigrating to the United States has become harder, more expensive and takes longer.”

Tacking backlogs is a priority

EB-5 applicants and stakeholders should be pleased to hear The New York Times declare that, “A central element of the blueprint is addressing backlogs in the immigration system.” While all immigration in the U.S. has been stalled in recent years, EB-5 in particular has suffered from onerous wait times.

‘Restoring USCIS to full capacity’

The agency that oversees EB-5 has slowed to a processing crawl the past couple years. The reason is not only political agendas but dollars — USCIS funds almost all of its operations by immigrant fees. Fewer immigrants and slower processing led to less money for the Immigration Service.

The New York Times says: “Restoring the agency to full capacity is at the heart of Mr. Biden’s effort to expand legal immigration, according to the document and interviews with administration officials.”

How Biden would achieve greater immigration efficiency: less administration

The blueprint details that it will speed up processing with virtual interviews and electronic efficiencies, as well as limit the requests for evidence from petitioners.

Further, Biden has enlisted Cass R. Sunstein, a former Obama-era official and legal scholar at Harvard Law School, to help evolve the immigration system to be more efficient by “reducing paperwork and other administrative requirements.”

Making it happen without a legal overhaul

The New York Times states, “Most of the changes could be put into practice without passage of Mr. Biden’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.” This is important as immigration legislation has resulted in an entrenched stalemate between both parties in Congress.

It appears Bill may proceedto push his plan through with emergency rules and presidential memos in an effort to avoid getting mired in legislative processes — as Trump did to promote his agenda.

What Biden’s plan could mean for EB-5

According to USCIS posted numbers, I-526 average processing times were just 16.6 months in FY 2017, almost half of the 31.2 months in FY 2020. While some industry pundits think the agency’s numbers are inflated, no one can deny that processing times have significantly increased.

According to EB-5 business plan writer and processing expert Suzanne Lazicki, there are now over 80,000 people in the EB-5 wait line. Clearing the backlog is good news for pending investors as well.

The New York Times states that Biden’s plans includes foreign investors who want to, in the words of the document, “start-up businesses and create jobs for U.S. workers.” While this doesn’t speak to EB-5 by name, there can be little doubt that such an objective must be favorable to a program that is predicated on using foreign capital to fund U.S. businesses and create U.S. jobs.

EB-5 securities broker Kurt Reuss is optimistic about what this means for the immigrant investor program: “What drives EB-5 is economic growth and job creation but there is no stimulus without the immigrant investors. They want to live here, work here, study here, raise their families here, because the U.S. addresses their strong desire for stability. Welcoming good people from around the world who are likely to improve our country is an attitude that has been missing in the White House for years. I think under Biden that’s going to change.”

Republican opposition to the plan

It’s no surprise that many Republicans oppose Biden’s immigration plan. “They just want to shovel people in here,” said Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a former Director of USCIS. “They are not running an immigration system for the benefit of America, and certainly not for the benefit of ordinary Americans. ”

What the plan represents philosophically

While the keyword in this plan is “legal,” make no mistake that Biden wants a philosophical paradigm shift with immigration in the U.S. While Trump saw legal immigration as a negative, and a reason to set restrictions, Biden’s plan is one of expansion and inclusivity — “consistent with our character as a nation of opportunity and of welcome.”

Read The New York Times article “Biden Aims to Rebuild and Expand Legal Immigration”