United States Capitol

President Biden Introduces an Ambitious Immigration Plan

President Biden’s proposed immigration legislation, The Citizenship Act of 2021, is the most comprehensive immigration legislation in decades. If passed, the bill will provide a pathway to legal status for most of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. 

Here are some key provisions included in the bill:

  1. Pathway to Citizenship for Undocumented Workers – 
    1. Establishes a 5-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, for those living in the United States as of January 1, 2021, if they pass background checks, pay taxes, and fulfill other basic requirements. 
    2. Establishes a subsequent 3-year path from green card to naturalization, pending additional background checks and citizenship application. 
    3. Applies to 11+ million undocumented workers in the United States, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or “DACA” (also known as the “Dreamers”), those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and immigrant farmworkers. 
  1. Family Re-unification – 
    1. Enables certain family-based sponsored foreign nationals to join their family in the United States temporarily while waiting for green cards. 
    2. Reduces or eliminates other provisions separating families. 
    3. Increases diversity lottery visas to 80,000 from 55,000.
    4. Eliminates the 3-year and 10-year bar to reentry for immigrants who have had previous unlawful presence in the United States are seeking to reenter to unify with family members in the U.S.
  1. Asylum Seekers and Vulnerable Populations – 
    1. Increases number of immigration judges working in immigration courts to help clear backlog of asylum cases in court.
    2. Eliminates the one-year filing deadline for asylum applications.
    3. Authorizes funding for legal counsel for vulnerable populations of migrants, such as children.
    4. Increases U-visa cap from 10,000 to 30,000 visas issued per year for immigrant victims of crime who are helpful to law enforcement, thus helping to clear some of the long waiting times for such visas.

These are just some of the many proposed changes in the bill introduced by President Biden. It is important to remember that the bill still has to pass through Congress in order to become law. Although Democrats currently control both the House of Representatives and the Senate, their slim majority in the Senate means that they will need at least nine (9) Republican senators to sign on before the law can pass. Several of the currently proposed provisions could be foregone in order to reach a compromise that is acceptable to all sides. Nevertheless, the fact that President Biden made it a priority to introduce this legislation as one of his first tasks in office shows that he is taking immigration reform seriously, and bodes well for the future of immigration in this country.

If you have questions about your eligibility for immigration benefits under the new administration, contact us at (415) 895-0661 or [email protected].

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