16 Feb What the New Immigration Bill Could Mean for You
On his first day in office, U.S. President Joseph Biden unveiled his plan to revamp the nation’s immigration system with the Citizenship Act of 2021. This swift sign of President Biden’s commitment to our country’s “religious freedom and tolerance” and “long history of welcoming people” offers new hope and pathways for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. Here’s what you need to know:
If you or a loved one have been unable to gain legal status under current law or were deported from the U.S. during the Trump administration, the new immigration bill provides a clearer track to earning citizenship. It allows undocumented individuals to apply for temporary legal status — and the opportunity to apply for a green card after five years — if you pass background security checks and pay taxes.
Immediate Green Cards
The Citizenship Act of 2021 provides immediate green card eligibility for certain subgroups who meet specific requirements, including:
- Dreamers brought to the U.S. as children
- Those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- Immigrant farmworkers
If you belong to one of these groups, the new bill provides the opportunity for citizenship after holding your green card for three years. To apply, you must be physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021, pass background checks, and demonstrate knowledge of the English language and U.S. civics.
Support for Families
Intending to restore “humanity” and “American values” to the immigration system, the Citizenship Act of 2021 aims to keep families together by tackling backlogs in the court system, recapturing unused visas, eliminating 3- and 10-year bars, and more. Immigrants with approved sponsorship petitions may also join a family in the U.S. temporarily while waiting on their green cards.
Hope for the Future
President Biden’s proposed immigration bill may be subject to changes as it moves through Congress to become law, but this much is clear: responsible immigration reform is a top priority. In addition to the bill, President Biden signed several executive orders to protect the DACA program, suspended the deportation of noncitizens, and stopped the construction of the border wall. While the U.S. will still apply a rigorous vetting process for citizenship, new legislation appears to be more consistent with providing a fast, fair, and more welcoming path for all.