US Citizenship Act 2021 summary as seen on 2.17.21- by Tahmina Watson
I was privileged to see a summary of President Biden’s US Citizenship Act 2021 on Wednesday 2.17.21. I have not seen the entire bill yet, hopefully it will be out tomorrow. At first glance, I am happy to see the summary. I am hoping that anything that I am not seeing in the summary will actually be covered in the details. I do note that there is no mention of a Startup Visa. I sincerely hope it will be in the actual bill text.
Here are quick notes of the summary, and quick fire remarks on the issues. I see a lot of analysis and charts in my future!:
- The term ‘non-citizen’ (I shall from hereon refer to it as “NC”) is embedded throughout the bill to ensure ‘alien’ is not used anymore. A very welcome and long overdue change necessary as words to matter.
- Creating a Lawful Prospective Immigrant (LPI) Status:
- LPI for ‘eligible non-citizens’. will await to see who will be eligible but summary mentions spouse/children of eligible principal noncitizens.
- LPI will be given to those waiting for a green card, and will be allowed to be in the US for 6 years with an additional 6 year extension.
- LPI can work, can travel in and out of the US freely, get a social security number, can enlist in the army.
- Cannot enroll in the Affordable Care Act, or get health care tax credits.
- Can adjust to becoming a green card holder by meeting requirements (which are listed in the summary one of which is that LPI must have been in LPI status for at least 5 years)
TW comment: a good provision that will help people in the backlog to be in the US with their families while waiting to become eligible for the green card.
- The Dream Act:
- For noncitizens (NC) brought to the US as children before the age of 18 and meets either education, military or income requirements
TW comment: this will be great for those who were not eligible for DACA, such as were too old for DACA applications, or those who were adopted by US citizen parents but never obtained status (many were casualties of the implementation of the Child Status Protection Act)
- DACA recipients to have a streamlined process to obtained permanent residency, will be able to work for Congressional representatives, will be eligible for tax credits and Obamacare;
- Adjustment of status (AOS) for TPS or DED folks:
- Must have been present in the US since January 1, 2017 to be eligible for LPR. Spouse/children can also AOS.
- TPS status will be considered ‘inspected and admitted”
- The Agricultural Workers Adjustment Act:
- For those who have performed agricultural labor or service, seasonal or temporary;
- At 2300 hours or 400 days
- In the last 5 years.
- Spouse/children can AOS
- General AOS requirements:
- File form, pay fee, be present when filing form;
- Must be physically present in the US from January 1, 2021 to the date of case being approved;
- Can travel abroad for less the 180 days, unless exigent circumstances;
- If removed from the US on or after January 20, 2017 but had previously been in the US for at least 3 years, discretion to waive physical presence for humanitarian reasons, family or public interest reasons as long the person has not reentered unlawfully after January 1, 2021;
- TW comment: this is a compassionate provision to allow those who were deported under Trump to have a pathway to LPR.
- Reasons for Ineligibily to AOS: criminal, national security, smuggler, avoiding military duty, international child abduction, renunciation of USC for tax avoidance;
- Other items:
- Wow, general citizenship eligibility timeframe will be reduced to 3 years from 5! (it currently applies to only one category of green card holders)
- Have specific provisions to have plan to central America with sanctions on drug trafficking;
- Expanding refugee and asylum processing in the western hemisphere;
- Creating designated processing centers for central American refugees;
- Provisions for modernizing ports of entry procedures;
- Creating smart technology at the southern border (yay to not mentioning a useless border wall!)
- Mandatory training and continuing education on human rights and other issues for CBP and ICE officers (excellent, I say), medical training and commercial drivers training for border patrol agents;
- Establishing a border community stakeholder advisory committee;
- Strategize and train on use of force;
- Creating guidelines for humanitarian and medical standards for people in CBP custody;
- Develop guidelines for child welfare at the border;
- New penalties for hindering CBP officers’ work or destruction of property at the border;
My favorites that I am looking forward to reading:
- Recapture unused visas;
- Increase EB visa numbers from 140,000 to 170,000 a year;
- Reclassification of spouses and children of green card holders to be immediate relatives (wonderful! This will reduce the backlog and processing times)
- Fiancee or fiancée child status protection (really great to see this)
- Retention of priority dates for family based 2nd preference;
- Recognizing non-married partners for immigration benefits (eligibility requirements are listed in the summary)
- Prevents future presidents to discriminate based on religion (aka Muslim ban);
- Increase diversity visa from 55,000 to 80,000 (that is great!);
- Increase visa numbers for EB3;
- Eliminating per country quotas;
- Flexible AOS for EB2 and EB3- meaning reduce admissions during high unemployment times;
- Create a regional economic development immigrant visa pilot program for up to 10,000 immigrants a year for those who are essential for economic development; Pilot program to be for about 5 years. Will need a labor cert and new regs. (Brand new idea adopted from some of the country’s gifted think tanks!)
- Creating a wage-based H1B program (really not sure about this, honestly).
- Make student visas dual intent (great!)
- H4 reform: to allow H4 spouses to have work authorization (fabulous) and provisions to prevent children from aging out (really great!)
- Employment authorization extensions for one year increments when cases are pending for F1, H1b, L1 and O1 applications;
A big idea:
- Promoting immigrant and refugee integration:
- Create a non-profit USCIS Foundation by DHS which can accept gifts; the mission will be to help citizenship application preparation; create a Council of Directors with 10 members for 4 year renewable terms; to establish with 12 months of the enactment of this Act (I could see this being useful for more than citizenship too)
- Promoting immigrant and refugee integration:
- Pilot program to create immigrant integration at state and local levels- states/local govt. to apply for grants;
- Other grant provisions;
- DOL to conduct a study to understand factors that affect employment opportunities for immigrants and refugees with professional credentials;
- In-state tuition for refugees, asylees and some special immigrants;
- Immigration court provisions on how to reduce backlog and processing times;
- Improve training for judges and BIA members;
- Implement new technology in immigration court rooms;
- Right to counsel- govt. will appoint one at govt expense for the following: (great start)
- Bond hearings
- Expedited removal
- Removal proceedings
- Right to counsel for children and vulnerable noncitizens;
- Establishes a new Immigration Counsel Account in the general Treasury fund for this; $25 from every immigration case will be deposited to this fund (I like it);
The summary covers other items such as U. V, T visas, protection for seasonal workers and more. I will update this post soon.