On January 20, 2021, President Biden proposed an immigration reform bill to fix a fractured immigration system and provide status to over 11 million undocumented individuals. On February 18, 2021, Congress took President Biden’s proposal for legislation and presented it as a “bill” in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Now the immigration reform legislation will be presented to the committees where it will be discussed, debated and refined. Later, it will go back before the entire House and Senate for continued debate and eventual vote. If the bill passes both the House and Senate then it will go back to President Biden to be signed into law.
In its current form, the legislation would make sweeping changes to our current immigration system including the following:
Status for 11 million + undocumented individuals
- Lawful status that could be converted to permanent residency after five years.
- DACA, TPS, and agricultural workers eligible to apply directly for permanent residency.
Family based applications
- Eliminates the three and ten year unlawful presence bars, AND the permanent bar!
- Those waiting in line for a green card through family could apply for V visa status to allow them to enter the U.S. and work lawfully.
- Spouses and minor, unmarried children of permanent residents would be immediately eligible for a green card.
- Anyone with an approved I-130 who has been waiting “in line” for over ten years would be able to apply for resident status immediately.
- Same sex couples who are barred from marrying in the immigrant’s home country would be allowed to immigrate as “permanent partners.”
- False claim to citizenship would no longer be a permanent bar if made before age 21.
Naturalization (U.S. citizenship)
- Residency requirements for applying for naturalization would be reduced from five to three years.
- Exemption from English and civics/history requirements for those who completed high school in the U.S. and/or those over 65 (with five years as resident; or 60 with ten years as resident).
- Abolishes the one-year deadline for applying for asylum.
- Increases the U Visa annual cap from 10,000 to 30,000.