Biden Proposes US Citizenship Act of 2021

President Biden has promptly proposed a sizeable bill that would overhaul current immigration policy. The bill, US Citizenship Act of 2021, focuses on improving protection and assistance for families and vulnerable migrants such as asylum seekers.  It also emphasizes family reunion, attracts foreign skilled workers, and protects children from aging out.  Below is an overview in outline format.  (Note: This is only a proposal and has not been passed into law. )Path to Citizenship1) Undocumented immigrants can apply for temporary status and then for their green card after 5 years if they pass background checks and pay taxes.2) Temporary Protected Status (TPS) individuals, DACA Dreamers, and certain farmworkers physically present in the U.S. on or before January 1, 2021 will gain permanent residence immediately.

  •     They can then apply for citizenship after 3 years.
  •    The physical presence requirement can be waived for those deported on or after January 20, 2017 and who were physically present for at least three years before removal.

Family-Based Immigration1) Per-country visa caps will be increased and unused visas recaptured.2) Family members with approved petitions can enter and wait in the U.S. for a visa number to become available. 3) Gets rid of the 3 and 10-year bars and similar rules. 4) Explicitly includes permanent partnerships and LGBTQ+ families. 5) Protects orphans, widows, children, and Filipino veterans who fought alongside the United States in World War II.Employment-Based Visas1) Eliminates per-country visa caps and recaptures unused visas.2) Secures Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for H-4 dependents.3) Facilitates foreign graduates with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States.4) Improves access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors.5) Protects children from "aging-out" for immigration benefits.6) Authorizes DHS to adjust green cards issuance based on macroeconomic conditions, and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas.Foreign Worker Protections1) Grants victims of labor violations easier access to U visas.2) Protects workers from deportation as a form of workplace retaliation.3) Increases penalties for employers violating labor laws. Diversity Visas (Visa Lottery)1) Increases diversity visa numbers from 55,000 to 80,000.Border Protection and Accountability1) Increases accountability of Customs and Borders Patrol (CBP) officers conduct.2) Directs Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate DHS' authority to bypass environmental and state law when building walls.3) Increases funding for officer training and standardizing proper treatment of people in custody.4) Makes it easier to prosecute criminals in smuggling and trafficking rings that take advantage of migrants.5) Increases intelligence efforts and sanctions on narcotic traffickers and their associated groups6) Promotes anti-gang task forces in Central America.Protections for Asylum Seekers and Others1) Reduces asylum backlogs through funding.2) Eliminates one-year deadline to file asylum claims.3) Increases U visa cap from 10,000 to 30,000. 4) U, T, VAWA visa applicants and those that assist U.S. troops gain more protection.5) Gives immigration judges and adjudicators more discretion to review cases and grant relief.6) Creates processing centers in Central America to help settle displaced people.7) Funding for government and NGOs programs to help integrate displaced migrants.This most notable part of this proposal is the opportunity of permanent residence and citizenship that would be available to undocumented, DACA, and TPS migrants. Of course, the proposal has to pass through Congress first -- and if it does, the final version will likely be much different. Conservative Congressional members are expected to oppose or block the proposal especially in regards to the "legalization" or "amnesty" provisions. 


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