The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021
What Does President Biden’s Immigration Plan Mean for You?
Biden’s Immigration Reform Plan
On the first day of Joe Biden’s administration, January 20th, 2021, he sent an immigration reform bill proposal to Congress, which is widely expected to pass into law, with the Democratic Party controlling a majority of seats in both the House and the Senate. The changes this proposal includes would, if passed by Congress, be the largest overhaul of the U.S. immigration system in decades. But what all is in this proposal and what does it mean for people already in the immigration process, businesses planning on relocating, and for people planning on immigrating to the United State of America in the future? This page provides you an overview of what’s in the proposal and address questions you may have, from the perspective of an immigration lawyer.
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Overview: What’s In The Proposal?
The centerpiece of Biden’s plan is an “eight-year pathway,” which would provide a system for qualifying immigrants to acquire temporary status (for the first five years) and then get a green card once they meet certain requirements thus includes tax payments and background checks. Citizenship could then be open to be applied for three years.
Conservatively, this proposed immigration reform would significantly impact more than 11 million people.
Biden has now sent his proposal to congress, which entails two key parts:
The Creation of an Amnesty Program
People living in the United States before January 1st, 2021 (a date set to prevent a rush to the border), will get temporary work visa/status which allows them to stay in the country. They will no longer be considered “illegal immigrants” or “aliens,” but “noncitizens”. What is going to happen is that once you get this residence status, if you pay your taxes for five years, you are then able to apply for a green card.
Then, after three years, you will be able to apply for citizenship. This is two years sooner than during the standard card process. People who would otherwise most likely be deported will now have a legal pathway available for them to become citizens. Anyone without a criminal history and who has been in the United States since before January 1st potentially will qualify.
The Amnesty Program
The proposed amnesty program applies to Dreamers and people from countries on Temporary Protective Status (such as Haiti and Yemen). This will provide these individuals to immediately file for a green card as soon as this proposal passes into law.
Proposed Reforms at a Glance
8-year path to citizenship for millions of people living in the US unlawfully on January 1st, 2021
Provides people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection and the immediate ability to apply for their green cards
Permits certain deported immigrants who have been separated from their families to be reunited
Increases annual per-country limit on family-based immigration
Eliminates per-country limits for employment visas
Provides work permits for dependents of H-1B visa holders
Increases the number of immigration judges in the court system
Changes the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in U.S. immigration law
Removes the one-year deadline for asylum applications
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is included in the Biden Bill? ▼
The Biden Immigration Bill is an extensive bill with many parts. The main objectives of the bill are to create a clear pathway to citizenship and reform the immigration system. Some of the main proposals included:
- Providing an 8-year pathway to citizenship for those who were here illegally before January 1, 2021. This would allow these people to apply for a legal noncitizen status immediately. After five years, these individuals would be able to apply for a green card. After holding a green card for three years, they may then apply for citizenship. This is all reliant on the individual having a clean criminal history and paying their taxes.
- Recipients of DACA would be able to immediately apply for a green card.
- Those here from countries on TPS would be able to immediately apply for a green card.
- This bill would also increase per-country limits for several types of visas and remove the one-year deadline currently in place for asylum applications.
- The Biden Bill would also allow certain individuals who were deported in the last three years under the Trump Administration to reenter the country and be reunited with their families.
Will the Biden Bill pass? ▼
At this time, it is uncertain whether or not the Biden Bill will pass in Congress. It may be possible that the bill is passed in parts rather than as a whole.
Will the Biden Bill be split into smaller pieces? ▼
This is an option that President Biden has been reported saying that he is open to. The Biden Immigration Bill is an extensive bill with many parts. President Biden does not want this to be an all or nothing approach. Reform takes time and some parts of this bill will be easier to pass than others. So, it is very possible that we will see this bill split and approved in parts.
What does this bill mean for immigrants illegally living in America? ▼
Immigrants who are currently living in America illegally and were here on or before January 1, 2021, will be able to apply for a noncitizen status if this bill is passed. This will allow them to live here legally. If the individual continues to live in America, pays their taxes, and does not have a criminal history, after five years, they will be eligible to apply for a green card. The individual will then be eligible to apply for citizenship after holding their green card for three years. If this bill passes, the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in America could potentially be citizens in eight years’ time.
I’m a DACA recipient, how will the Biden Bill affect me? ▼
If you are currently a recipient of the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, under this bill, you would immediately be eligible to apply for your green card.
I had a loved one deported during the Trump Administration, can they move back to America? ▼
The Biden Bill, if passed, would allow certain individuals that were deported under the Trump Administration during the past three years to return to America and be reunited with their families.
How does the pathway to citizenship work? ▼
The pathway to citizenship would allow those who are currently illegally living in America and were here on or before January 1, 2021, to apply for a legal noncitizen status. If this bill passes, current illegal immigrants could potentially be citizens within eight years.
How do I file for a green card under this new bill? ▼
The Biden Bill has not yet been officially passed, so there is not a clear application process available. If the bill passes, it may be in your best interest to work with an immigration attorney to apply for your green card. This will ensure that the process is completed correctly and you will not get held up at any stage for filing errors.
How do I file to be here legally as a noncitizen through the Biden Bill? ▼
The process to apply to become a legal noncitizen through the proposed citizenship pathway will be revealed if or when the Biden Bill is passed by congress. The immigration team at Zohar Law will be able to guide you through the process of becoming a legal noncitizen and then eventually a green card holder and citizen.
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