President Biden’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill
In one of his first acts as President, President Biden sent an immigration reform bill to Congress. The US Citizenship Act of 2021 is the first step toward comprehensive and lasting immigration reform.
To become law, the bill will need the votes of a majority in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. Whether President Biden’s immigration plan becomes law remains to be seen. But the new law would greatly benefit many current and potential EN Lawyers, clients.
Some highlights of the bill include:
- Creating a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented individuals
- Prioritizing family unity in the visa application process
- Expanding protections for vulnerable individuals, including asylum applicants and victims of crime
Creating a Pathway to American Citizenship
President Biden’s immigration reform bill would allow many undocumented persons in the US to apply for temporary legal status.
Those who receive temporary legal status will then be able to apply for permanent resident status (a green card) after five years. But only if they pay taxes and pass background checks. Green card holders are then eligible to apply for US citizenship.
President Biden’s bill also would allow the following groups of noncitizens to apply for permanent residency right away:
- certain “Dreamers” (or DACA recipients)
- holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- immigrant farmworkers
For current green card holders, President Biden’s bill would cut the citizenship waiting period from five years to three. Therefore, anyone who has had a green card for three years that:
- passes additional background checks
- can pass the English language
- passes US civics test
can become US citizens.
Prioritizing Family Unity
A resounding theme throughout President Biden’s immigration reform bill is keeping families together. The bill would eliminate and reform some of the current immigration laws that most undermine that goal. Here are some of the major ways President Biden’s bill prioritizes family unity:
- Clearing backlogs in the visa system, increasing per-country visa caps, and reducing wait times
- Eliminating the “3 and 10-year bars” to re-entry to the US
- Protecting LGBTQ+ families by including a permanent partner basis for family immigration
- Allowing those with an approved family petition to wait in the US on a temporary basis for their visa to become available
- Expanding the immigration court’s family case management programs
- Reinstituting the Central American Minors program to reunite children with US relatives
- Creating a Central American Family Reunification Parole Program to expedite family unification
Protecting vulnerable individuals
President Biden’s bill would recommit the United States government to its role in protecting vulnerable people. As well as those that are fleeing persecution in their home countries. Some of the most significant provisions of President Biden’s immigration reform bill include:
- Removal of the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims
- Funding to reduce the asylum application backlog
- Expansion of protections for foreign nationals assisting US troops aborad
- Increased protections for U visa (crime victims), T visa (trafficking victims) and VAWA applicants (victims of domestic abuse)
- Raising the number of U visas available ach year from 10,000 to 30,000
- Funding to enhance asylum processing at the border
- The NO BAN Act prohibiting religious discrimination and placing limits on the president’s authority to issue future immigration bans
While President Biden has offered his own comprehensive immigration reform bill, Democratic and Republican Senators have begun to discuss the DREAM Act again.
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Immigrant Minors Act) is a bill first introduced in 2001. It would provide a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” brought to the US by their parents when they were children. It is possible President Biden’s comprehensive reform bill may not pass Congress. However, it is possible that a smaller, more targeted bill to protect Dreamers could get enough Democratic and Republican votes to pass and become law.
Get Help With Your Immigration Case
As always, EN Lawyers will continue to monitor any and all changes in the immigration laws that could impact our current and potential clients. Please check our website regularly for updates.
Read Biden Immigration Vol 1: Immigration Executive Orders here.