PRESIDENT BIDEN PRESENTS MASSIVE IMMIGRATION BILL TO CONGRESS
President Biden sent to Congress a massive immigration bill aimed at overhauling our current immigration system, grow our economy, keep families together, reduce visa backlogs, manage our borders responsibly, ensure those seeking refuge here receive protection and provide pathways to citizenship for many, including the undocumented. While not currently law, it is an impressive attempt to fix our current immigration system as outlined below.
PATHWAY TO A GREEN CARD AND CITIZENSHIP
The proposed bill allows the undocumented members of our community to apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for lawful permanent residency after five years provided they pay their taxes and pass criminal and a national security background check. The bill would create an “earned path to citizenship” for many including Dreamers, TPS-ers, and agricultural workers who toil tirelessly to feed America’s families.
DREAMERS, TPS-ers, FARMWORKERS
Also, Dreamers, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers who meet specific requirements are eligible for permanent residency immediately under the proposed legislation. After three years, all green card holders who pass additional background security checks and can demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can then apply to become American citizens. Under President Biden’s proposed bill, applicants must be physically present in the US on or before January 1, 2021. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20, 2017 who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes.
INCREASING VISA NUMBERS IN BACKLOGGED CATEGORIES AND DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY
The bill also proposes to increase Diversity Lottery Visas to 80,000 from 55,000, and clears employment-based visa backlogs (HUGE!), recaptures unused visas, reduces lengthy wait times, and eliminates per-country visa caps. The bill would also make better facilitate graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to remain in the United States; improve green card options for lower-wage workers and remove other hurdles for employment-based green cards.
U VISAS & T VISAS
The bill proposes to increase the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000 to help reduce the years-long wait, and increases the protections for U visa, T visa and VAWA applicants. Foreign nationals assisting US troop would also receive better protection under Biden’s proposed bill.
ELIMINATES ASYLUM 1 YEAR DEADLINE
The proposed bill would help asylum seekers by eliminating the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims and provide funding to reduce asylum application backlogs.
ELIMINATES THE 3 AND 10 YEAR BAR & KEEPS FAMILIES TOGETHER
With an aim to keep families together, the bill would eliminate the “3 and 10-year bars,” that many immigrants now face. President Biden’s bill would revamp our family-based immigration system by clearing away the lengthy backlogs, recapture unused visas, and increase per-country visa caps.
Immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions would also be allowed to join family in the United States on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards and immigrant visas to become available.
CHANGES THE WORD “ALIEN” TO “NONCITIZENS” IN OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS
The bill seeks to further humanize those seeking to immigrate to the United States by changing the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in our immigration laws.
NO IMMIGRATION BAN BASED ON RELIGION
Likely in response to President Trump’s Muslim ban which impacting millions of families, the bill includes a NO BAN Act that would prohibit discrimination based on one’s religion and would limit a President’s power to issue any future bans.
H4 DEPENDENTS EADS AND NO AGE OUT FOR CHILDREN
Under the proposed bill, H-4 visa holders would receive work authorization, and children would no longer be subject to “aging out” of the system.
For now, the bill is just a proposal and has a long way to go before portions or all of it becomes law. It is now up to Congress to dissect, mark-up, change, eliminate or add to the bill and then pass it into law which will take some time but hopefully we will see a grand overhaul that aides all those genuinely seeking to make the United States home for themselves and their families.