President Joe Biden on Wednesday revoked a proclamation from his predecessor that blocked many green card applicants from entering the United States.
Former President Donald Trump issued the ban last year, saying it was needed to protect U.S. workers amid high unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden rejected that reasoning in a proclamation on Wednesday rescinding the visa ban. The Democratic president said it had prevented families from reuniting in the United States and had harmed U.S. businesses.
Biden, a Democrat, has pledged to reverse many of Trump's hardline immigration policies. Immigrant advocates had pressed in recent weeks for him to lift the visa ban, which was set to expire on March 31.
Biden left in place another ban on most foreign temporary workers.
In October, a federal judge in California blocked Trump's ban on those foreign guest workers as it affected hundreds of thousands of U.S. businesses that fought the policy in court.
Curtis Morrison, a California-based immigration attorney who represents people subject to the green card applicant ban, said Biden would now have to tackle a growing backlog of applications that have been held up for months as the pandemic shut down most visa processing by the State Department. The process could take years, he said.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.