Biden Uses Executive Order on AI to Advance Big Tech Immigration Agenda
FAIR Take | November 2023
On October 30th, President Biden issued an Executive Order that not only seeks to regulate artificial intelligence, but also seeks to advance an immigration agenda long lobbied for by Big Tech. In unveiling the order, the President said his “Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence” will help govern the development and use of Artificial Intelligence “safely and responsibly.” However, President Biden also used the order to call on his cabinet to ease immigration requirements to “attract talent” and researchers to the U.S. and to expand the H-1B visa program.
Regarding AI, the President used his executive order to emphasize several points. First, he underscored the need for the federal government to regulate AI. He stated, “My Administration places the highest urgency on governing the development and use of AI safely and responsibly, and is therefore advancing a coordinated, Federal Government-wide approach to doing so. The rapid speed at which AI capabilities are advancing compels the United States to lead in this moment for the sake of our security, economy, and society.” The President also emphasized the need to protect consumers and privacy, and to establish guidelines and best practices for the use of AI.
Unfortunately, President Biden also used the executive order to advance his Big Tech immigration agenda. First, he directed the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security to “use their authorities to support and attract foreign nationals with special skills in AI and other critical and emerging technologies seeking to work, study, or conduct research in the United States.” Specifically, the President called for the following immigration policy changes to attract AI workers to the U.S.:
DHS and State are to take steps to streamline processing times of visa petitions and applications for foreign nationals who seek to work, study or conduct research in the U.S. related to artificial intelligence. This includes making visa appointments available at consulates abroad.
DHS and State are to implement a domestic visa renewal program to facilitate the ability of foreign workers to stay in the country without renewing their visa abroad, and the departments are to consider rulemaking to expand the categories of nonimmigrants who qualify for such a program (including J-1 research scholars and F-1 students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)).
DHS and State are to establish a program to identify and attract top talent in AI research at universities, research institutions, and the private sector overseas. This includes educating foreign nationals on research and employment opportunities in the U.S. and finding ways the government can expedite their visa petitions.
The Departments are to consider rulemaking to establish new criteria to designate countries and skills on the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Skills List as it relates to the 2-year foreign residence requirement for certain J-1 nonimmigrants.
The Secretary of Labor is to update the “Schedule A” list of occupations to include AI and other STEM-related occupations. The “Schedule A” list are those occupations the government has predetermined that “there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available.”
- DHS is to develop and publish informational resources to attract and retain experts in AI and other emerging technologies, including a comprehensive guide (in multiple language) to explain the various options for working in the United States, and a public report with data on applications, petitions, approvals, and other key indicators of how experts in AI and other critical and emerging technologies have utilized the immigration system.
Biden’s executive order also directs the government to adopt new rules to “modernize” the H-1B visa program. As highlighted by FAIR, the changes to the H-1B program proposed by the Biden Administration will not only hurt American workers, but will undermine the integrity of the program and encourage more fraud. The proposed rule relaxes requirements on H-1B workers in the U.S. and the employers who hire them. It encourages companies to use a loophole to get around the visa lottery and the numerical cap, and it loosens standards when working at third-party worksites.
Not only is the President asking the Departments to weaken the H-1B visa program, he has also ordered them to “find ways for foreign nationals and their spouses, dependents, and children, to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident.”
Overall, the President has used his executive order on AI to give Big Tech an early Christmas present. Biden’s order directs his departments and agencies to find ways to make it easier to recruit, retain and import more foreign workers from around the world at the expense of American workers. It remains to be seen what specific steps his agencies will take, although it’s safe to assume that the Biden Administration’s open-borders agenda will continue to shine and his appointees in the executive branch will continue finding ways to circumvent our immigration laws, this time in the name of AI safety and innovation.