After almost a year of waiting for immigration reform, we are in the final steps of long-awaited changes to the system. The Build Back Better Act (BBB), drafted by the Biden administration, was submitted to the House of Representatives on November 3, 2021, and approved on November 19, 2021. Now, BBB faces the Senate.  

The Senate, a group of lawmakers made up of two senators from every U.S. state, has created a self-imposed deadline of Christmas to decide the Act’s fate. Even though BBB passed its first hurdle in the House, the Senate can rewrite and take out parts of the Act. There is also a position in the Senate known as Parliamentarian. The Parliamentarian provides interpretations and advice to Senators before they vote on a bill and has the power to strike down certain provisions if she believes those provisions do not follow existing law. Effectively, this means the Parliamentarian can prevent the passing of a bill if she sees fit. Overall, this means that BBB may look very different by the time it is finally voted on, and, hopefully, passed by the Senate. 

Let’s break down what major changes BBB would make to our immigration system, and how they may affect you and your family. 

Parole and Work Permit for those in the U.S. since December 31, 2010

BBB would temporarily give all immigrants, those undocumented and those with status, and their families, a legal status known as “parole” if they have been in the U.S. since December 31, 2010 (trips less than six months outside the US allowed). 

Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the overarching agency that reviews immigration applications, could begin accepting applications for this parole status on July 1, 2022. If granted, these parolees would receive legal status, a work permit, and a State Driver’s License until they can apply for a more permanent status. It is important to add that all criminal convictions for murder, rape, sexual assault, burglary drunk driving, child abuse, and fraud, otherwise known as crimes of moral turpitude, create bars to legal status in the U.S. 

Reclaiming Left-Over Green Cards for Family and Employment Applications

The Build Back Better Act requires that every available green card for family-based, and employment-based applications be given out. BBB would reclaim unused family-based and employment green cards from past years and issue them to those waiting. 

Reclaiming Left-Over Green Cards for the Diversity Visa Lottery

BBB would permit additional green cards to be given to immigrants who did not receive a green card between 2017 and 2021 because they 1) were refused a green card, 2) were denied entry, 3) were prevented from entering due to President Trump’s various travel bans, 4) were not given a visa interview, or 5) were prevented from entering the U.S. due to COVID-19 pandemic delays. 

There is no limit here on the number of visas that can be issued to those who qualify. The phrase “prevented from entering” means those who were not allowed to board a plane or were not allowed to enter the U.S. at a border crossing. 

Early filing of Adjustment of Status Application

If BBB passes, immigrants will be able to file to adjust their immigration status before they are alerted that a green card is “available” under existing green card numerical limitations. This means that immigrants who are awaiting review of their employment or family-based applications can apply for a U.S. work permit while they wait. For those awaiting employment-based visas, this law would give them the ability to change jobs or take promotions without fear of it affecting their eligibility for the visa.

Receive Build Back Better Act Updates

Molina Law Group will continue to keep our community updated on the Build Back Better Act, and how this Act would create quicker pathways to legal status for our clients and everyone in our community.

Please call our Springfield office at 541-653-8899, or our Beaverton office at 503-352-5483, if you or someone you love seeks immigration services.