Lawyers and lobbyists for Silicon Valley tech firms are pushing the Biden administration to move faster to open the pipeline of foreign talent.
The inauguration of President Joe Biden raised hopes in the tech industry that after four years of restrictive immigration policies, Silicon Valley might see an open pipeline of whip-smart engineers and entrepreneurs arriving from overseas.
So far, though, the change hasn’t been that dramatic.
Although the Biden administration drew cheers this week for ending a Trump-era ban on certain kinds of visas that are widely used in the tech industry, lawyers and others say that Biden’s overall record on skilled immigration has been mixed as he slowly makes modest changes in a few areas while leaving his options open in others.
“Change is not happening fast enough under the Biden administration, and it is critical that it does,” said immigration lawyer Ashima Duggal, who represents tech entrepreneurs, scientists and investors.
The fact that tech companies aren’t getting everything they want on immigration policy may be a result of how busy the Biden administration is as it initially focuses on other priorities, including vaccinating Americans against Covid-19, boosting the near-term economy and responding to a surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
But it also demonstrates that tech executives may have some convincing to do in Washington, despite their longstanding ties to prominent Democratic politicians.
“Businesses have to remember that this is a Democratic administration and not necessarily favorable to business immigration as much,” said Sophie Alcorn, an immigration lawyer who represents startup founders and others in the tech industry. “That’s not the priority.”