All About Biden’s Recent Executive Orders and Memorandums on Immigration


Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about President Biden’s newly signed executive orders on immigration and his administration’s new legislative bill.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


On January 20, 2021, in his first day in office, President Biden signed a series of executive orders relating to immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses what these executive orders will mean for you and what we may expect to see from the Biden administration in the months ahead with respect to comprehensive immigration reform.

Fact Sheet on Immigration

The Biden administration unveiled a brand new immigration reform bill entitled, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which proposes to overhaul the United States immigration system.

The bill includes a number of new reforms designed to streamline the immigration system and create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. To become law, the bill must still pass both houses of Congress including the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

These reforms are as follows:

  • Offers an 8-year path to citizenship for millions of people who were living in the United States unlawfully on Jan. 1, 2021. They would be eligible to apply for a green card after 5 years in a temporary status if they pass background checks and pay their taxes and could then apply for citizenship 3 years later.
  • Allows people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection, a group known as “Dreamers”, who were brought to the United States illegally as children, farmworkers and people with Temporary Protected Status to immediately apply for a green card if they meet specific requirements. They would have a 3-year path to citizenship.
  • Permits certain immigrants who were deported during the Trump administration and had previously lived in the United States for three years to return to reunite with family or for other humanitarian reasons.
  • Raises annual per-country limits on family-based immigration and eliminates them for employment visas.
  • Introduces changes to ease the U.S. citizenship application process.
  • Increases the diversity visa lottery program visa quota from 55,000 to 80,000.
  • Exempts spouses and children of green card holders from employment-based immigration quotas, expanding the number of green cards available to employment-based immigrants.
  • Scraps multi-year bars to re-entry for certain people who lived in the United States illegally and then left.
  • Clears family-based and employment-based visa backlogs.
  • Provides work permits to dependents of H-1B visa holders.
  • Authorizes regional processing centers in Central America to register and process people for refugee resettlement and other legal migration programs.
  • Authorizes funding for legal counsel for vulnerable populations of migrants, such as children.
  • Increases the number of immigration judges working in the court system.
  • Eliminates the 1-year filing deadline for asylum applications.
  • Changes the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in U.S. immigration laws.
  • Immigrants with approved family-sponsored petitions (I-130) can join family members on a temporary basis while they wait for their green cards to become available.
  • New immigration protections for widows and children of second World War veterans.

For more detailed information about the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 please click here.

Executive Actions, Presidential Proclamations, and Memorandums

In his first hours as President of the United States, Joe Biden signed 15 executive orders reversing some of the damaging policies enacted during the Trump administration.

Among these executive orders, Biden reversed Trump’s policy of excluding undocumented immigrants from the U.S. census, calling for all U.S. residents to be counted in state population numbers, regardless of their immigration status.

Ending the Muslim travel ban – Revocation of Executive Order 13780, and Proclamations 9645, 9723, and 9983

President Biden also signed a separate executive order entitled, “Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on entry to the United States,” which reverses four prior Executive Orders and Proclamations issued under the Trump administration that banned the travel of individuals from predominantly Muslim countries.

The Executive Order states, “the previous administration enacted a number of Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations that prevented certain individuals from entering the United States — first from primarily Muslim countries, and later, from largely African countries.  Those actions are a stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all…. I hereby proclaim the revocation of Executive Order 13780, and Proclamations 9645, 9723, and 9983.”

As a result of the new executive order, DOS must “direct all Embassies and Consulates, consistent with applicable law and visa processing procedures, including any related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), to resume visa processing in a manner consistent with the revocation of the Executive Order and Proclamations specified in section 1 of this proclamation.”

Prior Visa Denials Due to the Muslim Ban & Expedite Requests

Those individuals whose immigrant visa applications were previously denied on the basis of the suspension and restriction on entry imposed by Proclamation 9645 or 9983 are eligible to have their applications reconsidered.  The order leaves open the possibility of opening immigrant visa applications that were denied due to the suspension and restriction on entry imposed by Proclamation 9645 or 9983 or charging an additional fee to process those visa applications.

Furthermore, the Executive Order directs DOS to develop a plan for expedite requests made by visa applicants that were previously affected by the Muslim ban.

The Four EO and Proclamations Revoked by Biden 

Memorandum on Preserving DACA

Separately, the President issued a memorandum entitled, “Preserving and Fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” which calls upon DHS and the Attorney General to preserve and fortify the DACA program to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Reinstatement of Prosecutorial Discretion

The Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security David Pekoske further issued a policy memorandum entitled, “Review of and Interim Revision to Civil Immigration Enforcement and Removal Policies and Priorities,” which directs DHS to conduct a full review of its policies and practices concerning immigration enforcement.

Among its provisions, the memorandum:

  • Sets interim policies during the course of the review of the department’s enforcement policies and priorities
  • Imposes a 100-day pause on certain removals
  • Rebuilds fair and effective asylum procedures
  • Establishes removal priorities for those whose removal is in the national interest, individuals apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the U.S. on or after November 1, 2020, individuals formerly incarcerated in the federal, state, or local prison system who have been convicted of an aggravated felony, and were released on or after January 20, 2021 and
  • Reinstates the exercise of prosecutorial discretion

Reinstatement of Deferred Enforcement for Liberians

The President signed a separate memorandum reinstating deferred enforced departure (DED) for Liberians participating in the TPS (Temporary Protected Status) program who have been forced to flee their country as a result of armed conflict or civil strife.

The Memorandum states that it is in the interest of the United States, “to defer through June 30, 2022, the removal of any Liberian national, or person without nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia, who is present in the United States and who was under a grant of deferred enforced departure as of January 10, 2021.”

The Memorandum also states that, “a Liberian national, or person without nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia, who is present in the United States and who was under a grant of DED as of January 10, 2021, should have continued employment authorization through June 30, 2022.”

As a result, the President has ordered prompt notice to be published in the Federal Register, for immediate allowance of employment authorization for those Liberians who held appropriate deferred enforce departure-related employment authorization documents as of January 10, 2021.

For those eligible, DHS must provide (1) a deferral of enforced departure from the United States through June 30, 2022, effective immediately; and (2) authorization for employment valid through June 30, 2022.

This grant of deferred enforced departure and continued employment authorization will apply to any Liberian DED beneficiary as of January 10, 2021, but will not apply to persons in the following categories:

  • Individuals who would be ineligible for TPS for the reasons provided in section 244(c)(2)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1254a(c)(2)(B);
  • Individuals who sought or seek LPR status under the LRIF provision but whose applications have been or are denied by the Secretary of Homeland Security;
  • Individuals whose removal the Secretary of Homeland Security determines is in the interest of the United States, subject to the LRIF provision;
  • Individuals whose presence or activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States;
  • Individuals who have voluntarily returned to Liberia or their country of last habitual residence outside the United States for an aggregate period of 180 days or more, as specified in subsection (c)(2) of the LRIF provision;
  • Individuals who were deported, excluded, or removed prior to the date of this memorandum; or
  • Individuals who are subject to extradition.

Even More Executive Actions

These are just the highlights of the new immigration reforms introduced under the Biden administration.

On Friday, January 29, 2021, President Biden will be signing even more executive actions and policies designed to ease the immigration process. Stay tuned as we report on each of these new developments right here on our blog, social media pages, and YouTube channel.

Questions? If you have immigration questions and would like to schedule a consultation, please call 619-819-9204 or text 619-483-4549.

Helpful Links


Need more immigration updates? We have created a brand new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments in immigration related to COVID-19. Follow us there.

For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.