On January 20, the very first day in office, President Biden signed significant immigration executive orders giving hope to millions around the world and those in the US waiting to legalize their status. After years of immigration chaos including removing important asylum protections and separating immigrant children from their parents, we can expect many beneficial changes on the immigration front under the current administration.
The most significant immigration changes include the following:
- REINSTATMENT OF DACA
President Biden signed an executive order reinstating DACA, opening the door once again for eligible DREAMERS to apply for protection against removal. New as well as applications for extensions are now being accepted by USCIS. To be eligible, applicants must be:
- Be under 31 years old on June 15, 2012,
- First entered the US BEFORE their 16th birthday;
- Lived in the US since June 15, 2007
- Be physically present in the US on June 15, 2012 and on the date the application is submitted
- Not be in a lawful status on June 15, 2012;
- Currently in school or graduated from high school, earned a GED or have an honorable discharge from the US military or Coast guard; and,
- Not be convicted of a felony or a DUI, a significant misdemeanor or 3 or more misdemeanors of any kind.
Note: there are currently lawsuits pending in several courts challenging the validity of the DACA which could abolish the program. However, if you believe you are eligible, you should definitely apply now. USCIS will accept NEW DACA applications, renew current applications and grant work permits (EADs) as well as Advance Parole travel permits to eligible applicants.
2. MUSLIM TRAVEL BAN REMOVED!
While President Trump instituted a sweeping travel ban meant to target Muslims around the world, today President Biden signed an Executive Order to repeal the travel ban. While some individuals from the 13 countries impacted by Trump’s travel ban were pemitted to obtain temporary visas, none were able to obtain green cards to reside in the U.S. separating many families across the United States. While a waiver was available, in practice, very few were actually approved. The 13 impacted countries for the Muslim Travel Ban were:
- Myanmar (Burma)
- North Korea
Now persons from these countries can apply for both immigrant and non-immigrant visas to come to the U.S.
3. DEPORTATION PRIORITIES REINSTATED!
While President Barack Obama instituted the following directives to ICE to prioritize removal (initiation of deportation proceedings) against the following individuals, President Trump removed these objectives:
- Persons who are a threat to National Security
- Those with serious criminal convictions and
- Repeat immigration offenders
President Biden has reinstated these deportation priorities for ICE.
4. BORDER WALL CONSTRUCTED ENDED!
While President Trump initiated the construction of a border wall between the US and Mexico and told us Mexico would pay for it, ultimately only 450 miles were built and American Taxpayers footed the entire bill, with some funds diverted from the Pentagon’s budget.
President Biden has ended the construction of the wall.
5. PATH TO CITIZENSHIP – DREAMERS, TPS, AGRICULTURAL WORKERS
President Biden has said he will make green cards and a path to citizenship for DREAMERS a priority. He has also asked Congress to provide a 5-year path to permanent residence for many immigrants followed by a 3-year wait to become U.S. citizens. Those with long ties who have already been vetted for permanent residency would be expedited under his plan such as DACA recipients, certain H2B workers, and those with TPS. Also on the table is decreasing visa backlogs which currently span for decades for some countries such as the Philippines, China, Mexico, and India.
The Biden Administration also would like to decrease visa backlogs, hire more Immigration Judges and provide funding for border technology, as well as provide $4 billion in additional funding to 3 Central American countries.
As we hear more, we will be sure to share the news so stay tuned!