What Biden’s First 100 Days Mean for Mobility

From COVID-19 response and economic recovery to immigration reform and bold infrastructure and tax plans, here’s what you need to know about President Biden’s first 100 days in office.

On the evening of 28 April, U.S. President Joe Biden delivered his inaugural address to the U.S. Congress on the floor of the U.S. House in which he highlighted his accomplishments of his first 100 days in office. Since taking office in January, Biden has set out to deliver on campaign promises, some of which impact mobility, including a strong COVID-19 response, passing an economic stimulus package, introducing an infrastructure and tax plan, changes to immigration, and more. Here is what you need to know about what the Biden Administration has achieved in the last 100 days that may impact mobility and as we look ahead:

COVID-19 Response

One of Biden’s top priorities was to administer 200 million vaccines in 100 days. With an average 2.5 million vaccines administered a day, his Administration has now reached that goal. Other completed initiatives were to assemble a coronavirus task force; push for immediate coronavirus legislation; release a vaccine distribution plan; and rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO).

This week, citing significant progress over the past few months, Biden lifted the guidance on wearing masks outdoors for vaccinated individuals unless in large crowds or where required. State health and safety mandates differ around the country due to varying COVID rates. Employers continue to review their remote work policies and create plans for a potential return to the physical working space, where compliance with health and safety guidelines is paramount.

Immigration

USCIS Reinstates Deference Policy for Extensions of Status
The most recent action by the Administration on immigration is the reinstatement of deference to prior determinations when adjudicating immigration extension requests involving the same parties and facts. On 27 April, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, effective immediately, it would reinstate the previously-reversed guidance. This guidance directs officers to generally give deference to prior USCIS decisions when considering extension of status involving the same parties and the same facts. Only in cases of material error in the prior approval, change in circumstances, or newly emerged material facts that impact eligibility, are officers not to defer to past USCIS decisions. Per the new guidance, USCIS will also consider (but not defer to) previous eligibility determinations from other U.S. government agencies.

Revocation and Expiration of Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Entry Bans
One of President Biden’s first actions on immigration was to revoke the immigrant visa ban. This included his “Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States,” wherein he revoked the Trump administration travel bans on individuals from several Muslim-majority countries and several countries in Africa, while also resuming visa processing and clearing backlogs created by those Executive Orders.

Additionally, on 24 February, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation that revoked the immigrant visa ban suspending the entry of foreign nationals in immigrant (green card) visa categories. The 24 February Proclamation explained that the ban harms the U.S. “by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families” while also harming “industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world.” Worldwide ERC® advocated for the revocation of this Proclamation over the past year, and thanked the Administration for the revocation in a letter to the Domestic Policy Council.

In April, it was also announced that President Biden will not renew the ban on the entry of new H-1B, L-1, J-1 and H-2B nonimmigrant visa holders. The ban expired on 31 March 2021.
Former President Donald Trump had put the bans in place in June 2020 and extended them at the end of 2020 over concerns of foreign workers entering the U.S. labor market during an economic downturn due to the pandemic. Following this decision to let the ban expire, Worldwide ERC® sent a letter to the White House Domestic Policy Council thanking them and the President for the policy change.

Travel Bans for Specific Countries
While many U.S. airlines are aiming to open more flights by the summer, there remain significant travel restrictions. Compounding this is that most countries are experiencing visa delays which have led to a lawsuit challenging the Biden Administration’s policies. However, President Biden is aiming for mid-May to relax the land travel restrictions across the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders as well as the restrictions on travelers from the U.K., Europe, and Brazil.

Delay of DOL Wage Rule and DHS H-1B Lottery Wage Rule
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a wage rule on 8 October 2020 that would make it difficult for companies to hire high-skilled foreign nationals, especially entry-level talent, that fill critical roles in the U.S. as it would require employers to increase, at times significantly, what they pay H-1B and employment-based green card beneficiaries. The rule came under criticism from the business community on both substance and the lack of input from stakeholders, with Worldwide ERC® filing comment letters to support the rule’s delay. The rule’s effective date has been delayed to 14 November 2022, which will allow for more stakeholder input and a determination on where the Department heads next on the rule.

On 7 January, the USCIS finalized a rule under the Trump Administration to prioritize the selection of H-1B lottery cases based on the highest wage levels established under the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes within the subject area of employment. Previously set to go into effect on 9 March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a delay of the rule, pushing the effective date to 31 December. Worldwide ERC® filed comment on the rule and also joined a multi-sector comment letter supporting the delay of the rule.

H-4 Visa Work Eligibility
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced in late January the withdrawal of the proposed rule on Removing H-4 dependent spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization thereby confirming the continued eligibility of certain H-4 visa holders to work in the U.S. if they are waiting beyond the sixth year in the employment-based green card lines.

Legislation on Pathway to Citizenship
One of Biden’s first actions as President was to send the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 to Congress. This bill aims to establish “a new system to responsibly manage and secure our border, keep our families and communities safe, and better manage migration across the Hemisphere.” While the bill has been introduced in the House and Senate, it will be challenging for this bill to get the nine or more Republican cosponsors it needs in the Senate to move the bill forward.  Worldwide ERC® joined hundreds of stakeholders early on this year to call for bipartisan reform of our immigration system and we continue to work to reform our system to meet the needs of the mobility industry.

Economic Stimulus

Passage of the American Rescue Plan
On 11 March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, the sixth U.S. economic stimulus package since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Rescue Plan was a $1.9 trillion stimulus package aimed at providing relief to businesses, families, and individuals as the United States continues to rebound from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to relief for individuals, families, transportation, and infrastructure, the stimulus package was helpful to small businesses, with $440 billion in assistance, of which an additional $7.25 billion was set aside for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Worldwide ERC® advocated the President and Congress for small business and other economic relief like liability protection and reinstatement of the moving expense deduction and exclusion. 

Additionally, on 30 March, President Joe Biden signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Extension Act of 2021 (H.R. 1799) following its passage in the Senate, which extends the deadline by 60 days for submitting PPP loans from 31 March to 31 May and provides the Small Business Association (SBA) until 30 June to process loans. Worldwide ERC® advocated for an extension to the PPP filing for small businesses through the end of the year by signing onto a multi-sector stakeholder letter with 600 business leaders led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on 3 March.

Next Initiatives and Efforts

Infrastructure and Tax Legislation
On 31 March, U.S. President Joe Biden released the American Jobs Plan, a proposal centered around jobs and infrastructure that aims to put $2 trillion to use over the next 15 years towards critical infrastructure while expanding manufacturing opportunities to create jobs. Alongside this is a plan that proposes to increase the corporate tax rates through the Made in America Tax Plan. Specifically, the plan proposes that Congress should introduce a bill that:

  • Set the Corporate Tax Rate at 28 percent.
  • Increase the minimum tax on U.S. corporations to 21 percent and calculate it on a country-by-country basis.
  • Enact a minimum tax of 15 percent on large corporations’ book income to ensure that large, profitable corporations cannot exploit loopholes in the tax code without paying U.S. corporate taxes.
  • Ramp up enforcement against corporations by closing tax loopholes and ensuring that the IRS has the resources to effectively audit and enforce tax laws.

These are proposals and are not yet law. Democrats, who hold a slim majority in the Senate, could use a second reconciliation bill to move it forward once legislation is introduced in Congress. While some Republicans have released their own proposal, much work between both sides of the aisle remains to be done. And, while it would be technically feasible to pass such legislation without any Republican support, all Democrats would have to be onboard, which remains an uphill battle.

Worldwide ERC® will issue a joint-letter to Congress asking for tax relief in this package for employers and individuals that includes a call for corporate tax rates to remain competitive and the reinstatement of the moving expense deduction and exclusion.

Executive Order on Raising the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors
On 27 April, the Biden Administration issued an Executive Order requiring the minimum wage for federal contractors be raised to $15 an hour. The wage raise aims to help the workers who are critical to the functioning of the federal government, such as nursing assistants, food service and maintenance workers, and more. The wage raise is effective 30 January, 2022, and all U.S. government agencies must implement the raise into any new or extended contracts by 30 March, 2022.

Read More

How This Impacts Mobility

The Biden Administration has provided timely assistance to small businesses, in particular by way of its economic stimulus package and the extension of the PPP filing deadline. Efforts by the Administration on potential increases on corporate taxes deviate from those of the business community and Worldwide ERC® calls on you to join our campaign to send our soon-to-be released letter to your Representative or Senators asking for important tax relief. And, while the Biden administration has been helpful on certain employment-based immigration efforts like recently reinstating deference and H-4 work authorization policies, as well as revoking and not extending the immigrant and nonimmigrant visa entry bans, there is still much more that can be done to help the mobility industry, and Worldwide ERC® will continue to advocate for our members and on behalf of the mobility and relocation industry.

Should any member have questions, please reach out to our Vice President of Member Engagement and Public Policy Rebecca Peters, rpeters@worldwideerc.org.