Summary of President Biden’s Immigration Reform Bill

While President Biden submitted his legislation to overhaul the US Immigration system to Congress on his first day in office, the actual text of the bill was not released initially primarily because Congress has not actually introduced the bill in Congress as of yet. At this time, even thought the bill has still not been introduced, there is some more information about what some of the provisions will contain, and I will try to summarize those for you. However please do remember that, while the bill may contain certain provisions, that does not mean that the final bill approved by Congress and signed by the president will contain the same provisions.

First, the bill will provide a method for those in the Country without documentation to become permanent residents and, eventually, citizens of the US. This will apply to all person in the US without Documentation as of January 1, 2021. Under the process, most immigrations would gain temporary status for 5 years, then they would be able to file for Permanent Resident (green card) status after that. An exception for those in the DACA, TPS and Agricultural Worker programs exists so that they can apply for Permanent Residence immediately.

Second, the bill would overhaul the family and employment based immigrant programs. In terms of the family program, it would increase the per country limits (but not get rid of them) and would allow those with approved I–130’s to get a temporary visa to be in the US while awaiting the opportunity to file for permanent residence. It would tighten protections for LGTBQ+ families as well as families of those who fought along with the US military in WW II. In addition it would re-instate the Central American Minors Program, allowing family reunification for those with approved I–130s. It would also eliminate the 3 and 10 year bars for those who were in the US without documentation for over 6 months or over 1 year.

For employment based green cards, the bill seeks to grow the U.S. economy by “clear[ing] employment-based visa backlogs, recapture[ing] unused visas, reduc[ing] lengthy wait times, and eliminate[ing] per-country visa caps.” The legislation would create a program to “stimulate regional economic development, give[] the [U.S. Department of Homeland Security] the authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions, and incentivize[] higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.” It would also prevent children from “aging out” of the system. Currently, children who turn 21 years old may no longer qualify for immigration benefits as a dependent of their parents’ permanent residency applications. The Child Status Protection Act currently provides some exceptions to permit children who turn 21 years old to continue to qualify for immigration benefits. The proposed bill would expand upon these protections. We do not know the specifics of these proposals as of yet.

In addition, the proposed bill would increase the opportunities for dependents of H–1B visa holders to obtain work authorization. This is an expansion of the current H–4 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) guidelines, which do not allow dependent children to obtain work authorization.

The above is a rough summary of what the bill contains. Once the bill is introduced into Congress and we have a better idea of what Congress will do with the bill and how they will amend it, we will update you with more details.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

Author: Adam Frank, Esquire

I am an immigration attorney with over 20 years of experience. I was graduated from Brandeis University undergrad in 1990 and then spent a year traveling around Central America. In 1991 I began attending the University of Baltimore School of Law and was graduated in 1994. I began working in Immigration Law in 1998 when I joined a small law firm and, in 2000 opened my own firm with my law partner Ed Leavy. Sadly, Ed passed away in 2011. I am still a partner in my own firm with my current partner Brendan Delaney. Our firm is Frank & Delaney Immigration Law, LLC.

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