Biden’s Immigration Proposal: The US Citizenship Act Of 2021
On his first day in office, President Biden sent his immigration bill, entitled The US Citizenship Act of 2021, to Congress. Ambitious in scope, the plan seeks to, among other things, provide a pathway to US citizenship for immigrants presently in the United States without status. Highlights of the proposed legislation—which we will discuss in depth once we learn more details—include the following:
- Temporary status for those here illegally. In order to qualify, the applicant will have to demonstrate physical presence inside the US before January 1, 2021. After five years, applicants may become eligible to apply for permanent residence after undergoing security checks and paying taxes. After three years of having a green card, the applicant would then become potentially eligible to apply for citizenship.
- DACA pathway to Green Card. Individuals who are currently under a grant of deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be immediately eligible to apply for permanent residence. After three years of permanent residence, they would then be eligible to apply for US citizenship.
- Raise the annual quota limits for family-based immigration and clear backlogs for family and employment-based preference cases
- Allow immigrants with approved family petitions to temporarily enter and join their family in the US while waiting for their green cards to become available
- Elimination of the 3- and 10-Year Unlawful Presence Bars
- Provides dependents of H-1B workers with work authorization
- Prevents children from “aging out”
- Eliminates the one-year filing deadline for asylum cases; increase the cap on U visas from 10,000 per year to 30,000; and increases protections for U, T, and VAWA applicants
These are only some of the many proposed changes under the U.S. Citizenship Act. If the bill ultimately gets passed, it will dramatically reverse many of the draconian measures instituted under the Trump Administration and allow qualified non-citizens to apply for relief.
It is important to understand that this is not yet a law, and getting a bill passed into law is a long, complicated political process. As such, it is possible that the bill may not pass or may undergo several changes. Nevertheless, in light of the proposed legislation, aspiring immigrants may once again have hope of fixing their status here in the US. At this time, the best thing non-citizens hoping to benefit from this bill can do is consult with an experienced attorney to evaluate their situation and start assembling the proper documents and proofs in the event some version of this bill makes it way to President Biden for signature.
If you or a loved one has any immigration questions, we would be happy to speak with you. Please contact our office for a confidential, in-depth consultation to discuss your matter.