The Trump administration has implemented dozens of immigration regulations over the last four years, and even after losing his re-election bid, President Trump showed little sign of slowing down. His restrictive immigration policies have been a hallmark of his presidency, and he attempted to continue the trend despite his lame-duck status.
Donald Trump has systematically built an “invisible wall” designed to keep out two-thirds (at least 700,000) of aspiring Americans. The speed and breadth of these changes to the immigration landscape has far outpaced his predecessors’. During the two-term presidencies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush combined, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued some 10 final rules. USCIS under Donald Trump issued almost 20 final rules before the end of his single term.
It is extremely unusual for an administration to propose new regulations during its final months, since there is such limited time to go through the laborious process of finalizing them before the swearing-in of a new president with new priorities. Between Sept. 1, 2016 and the swearing-in of President Trump, USCIS proposed only two new regulations, neither of which touched on political hot buttons.
In contrast, since Sept. 1, 2020, USCIS proposed four new and controversial regulations that would dramatically change employment-based immigration, family-based immigration, the asylum system, and surveillance overall. And that’s not counting a raft of “Interim Final Rules” issued during the same period, which skip the public comment process and take effect immediately.
Here’s a tracker showing the end result of the Trump administration’s immigration regulations—the ones he finalized before leaving office, and also the plans that never made it off the shelf.
The chart includes regulations at USCIS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — all part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — plus related immigration regulations at the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of State (DOS), and the Department of Labor (DOL).
|Regulation||Agency||Proposed rule||Comments closed||Final rule||Effective date|
|H-1B worker registration requirement||USCIS||12/3/2018||1/2/2019||1/31/2019||4/1/2019|
|Fee changes for Student and Exchange Visitor Program||ICE||7/17/2018||9/17/2018||05/23/2019||06/24/2019|
|H-2A agricultural worker requirements||DOL||11/09/2018||12/28/2018||9/20/2019||10/21/2019|
|Immigrant investor program (EB-5) modernization||USCIS||1/13/2017||4/11/2017||07/24/2019||11/21/2019|
|Fee to register H-1B petitions||USCIS||09/04/2019||10/04/2019||11/08/2019||12/09/2019|
|H-2B worker recruitment modernization||USCIS||11/9/2018||12/10/2018||11/15/2019||12/16/2019|
|Inadmissibility on “public charge” grounds||USCIS||10/10/2018||12/10/2018||08/14/2019||02/24/2020 (latest news)|
|Inadmissibility on “public charge” grounds||DOS||[Interim final rule]||N/A||10/11/2019||02/24/2020 (latest news)|
|Extension of stay for H-2B nonagricultural workers during pandemic||USCIS||[Temporary final rule]||N/A||5/14/2020||5/14/2020|
|Extension of stay for H-2A nonagricultural workers during pandemic||USCIS||[Temporary final rule]||N/A||8/20/2020||8/19/2020|
|Fee changes for USCIS||USCIS||11/14/2019||12/30/2019||08/03/2020||10/02/2020 (blocked in court)|
|H-1B worker classification changes||USCIS||[Interim final rule]||N/A||10/08/2020||12/07/2020|
|H-2A agricultural worker wages||DOL||07/26/2019||09/24/2019||11/05/2020||12/21/2020|
|Immigration court fees||DOJ||02/28/2020||03/30/2020||12/18/2020||01/19/2021|
|H-1B wage minimum increases||DOL||10/08/2020 [Interim final rule]||N/A||01/14/2021 [Final rule]||03/15/2021|
|H-1B wage-based lottery||USCIS||11/02/2020||12/02/2020||01/08/2021||03/09/2021 [delayed until 12/31/2021]|
|Privacy exemptions for background check system||USCIS||07/21/2018||08/30/2018||Never finalized|
|Rescinding the International Entrepreneur Rule||USCIS||5/29/2018||6/28/2018||Never finalized|
|Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions||DOJ/USCIS||10/16/2019||11/15/2019||Never finalized|
|Biometrics expansion within the U.S.||USCIS||09/11/2020||10/13/2020||Never finalized|
|Establishing maximum stay for student visa holders||ICE||09/25/2020||10/26/2020||Never finalized|
|New requirements for green card sponsors||USCIS||10/02/2020||11/02/2020||Never finalized|
|B-1 visas in lieu of H-1Bs||DOS||10/21/2020||12/21/2020||Never finalized|
|Biometrics expansion at entry/departure||CBP||11/19/2020||12/21/2020||Never finalized|
|Inadmissibility and deportability on “public charge” grounds||DOJ||Never proposed|
|Requirements for filing motions and appeals||USCIS||Never proposed|
|Electronic processing of immigration applications||USCIS||Never proposed|
|Rescinding work permits for H-4 spouses||USCIS||Never proposed|
|Changes to the medical certification for disability exceptions||USCIS||Never proposed|
|Visa security program fee changes||ICE||Never proposed|
|Changing “Adjustment of Status” to end concurrent filings||USCIS||Never proposed|
|New requirements for USCIS-approved doctors||USCIS||Never proposed|
|Eligibility of “Designated School Officials”||ICE||Never proposed|
|Immigrant investor program (EB-5) regional centers||USCIS||Never proposed|
|Changing Optional Practical Training for international students||ICE||Never proposed|
|Changes to tourist and business travel visas||CBP||Never proposed|
|Restricting unlawful presence waivers||USCIS||Never proposed|
|Unlawful presence rule for temporary visa holders||USCIS||Never proposed|
|L-1 multinational employee visa changes||USCIS||Never proposed|
|U visa eligibility for crime victims||USCIS||Never proposed|
|Treatment of children crossing the border (Flores)||ICE||9/7/2018||11/6/2018||8/23/2019||10/22/2019 (blocked in court)|
|Asylum Eligibility and Procedural Modifications (Southern Border)||DOJ/USCIS||[Interim final rule]||N/A||07/16/2020||07/16/2020|
|Removing 30-day processing for asylum-seeker work permits||USCIS||09/09/2019||11/08/2019||06/22/2020||08/21/2020|
|Restricting work permits for asylum seekers||USCIS||11/14/2019||01/13/2020||06/26/2020||08/25/2020 (partially blocked in court)|
|Asylum Interview Interpreter Requirement||USCIS||[Temporary final rule]||N/A||N/A||9/23/2020|
|Southern Border expulsions||CDC||03/24/2020 [Interim final rule]||N/A||09/11/2020 [Final rule]||10/13/2020|
|Asylum Cooperative Agreements with Third Countries||DOJ/USCIS||[Interim final rule]||N/A||11/19/2020||11/19/2020|
|Procedures for Asylum and Bars to Asylum Eligibility||DOJ/USCIS||12/19/2019||1/21/2020||10/21/2020||11/20/2020 (blocked in court)|
|De facto asylum ban||DOJ/USCIS||06/15/2020||08/14/2020||12/11/2020||01/11/2021 (blocked in court)|
|Transit ban||DOJ/USCIS||06/16/2019 [Interim final rule]||N/A||12/17/2020 [Final rule]||01/19/2021|
|Security Bars and Processing||DOJ/USCIS||07/09/2020||08/10/2020||12/23/2020||01/22/2021|
|Eliminating work permits for individuals under removal orders||USCIS||11/19/2020||12/21/2020||Never finalized|
|Security Bars and Processing due to COVID-19||DOJ/USCIS||Never proposed|
|Limiting discretionary work permits and parole||USCIS||Never proposed|
Note: this chart doesn’t include non-regulatory actions, like the extension of the immigrant and temporary worker entry bans after Dec. 30, 2020, and the long-rumored birthright citizenship ban, which would have been immediately challenged in court.
Even if many of these Trump administration measures don’t prevail in court, or if they are undone by the Biden administration, it’s going to take time for the United States to re-establish itself as a nation that welcomes people from around the world to once again pursue the American dream.