January 22, 2021
By: Ramón E. Rivera
Two Key Features of President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021:
President Biden sent a bill to Congress on his first day as President that would modernize our immigration laws. The bill creates an earned roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals by permitting them to apply for temporary legal status with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks, and pay their taxes.
Qualifying applicants who meet specific requirements as outlined in the legislation would immediately receive green cards. These include Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and immigrant farmworkers. After three years, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can apply to become citizens. Applicants must be physically present in the United States 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. Lastly, the bill further recognizes America as a nation of immigrants by changing the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in our immigration laws.
The bill also would promote family unification by reforming the family-based immigration system by clearing backlogs, recapturing unused visas, eliminating lengthy wait times, and increasing per-country visa caps. It also eliminates the so-called “3 and 10-year bars,” and other provisions that keep families apart. The bill further supports families by more explicitly including permanent partnerships and eliminating discrimination facing LGBTQ+ families. It also provides protections for orphans, widows, children, and Filipino veterans who fought alongside the United States in World War II. And finally, the bill allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the United States on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards to become available.
Please feel free to contact Ramon Rivera, Esq., at Mackenzie Hughes LLP if you have any questions or concerns regarding President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.