Biden Administration Moves Quickly on Immigration Reform

The Biden Administration, as promised, is moving quickly on changes to U.S. immigration law and policy.

Announcements from the Biden White House have been coming at a fast and furious pace beginning just a few hours after President Biden’s inauguration.  Introduced on the floor of the House on January 20th, “The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021” (the “Act”) sets forth an eight-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11,000,000 undocumented foreign nationals currently residing in the United States.   The eight-year path would consist of a five-year path to permanent residence followed by a three-year wait prior to applying for citizenship.   Some groups, including over one million persons with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) along with certain agricultural workers, would be able to expedite immigration processing.

Refugee admissions will be increased.  The Biden Administration is also considering reinstituting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for citizens of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti who are physically residing in the United States.  Under the Act the one-year asylum application filing deadline would be eliminated if the Act becomes law as would the three and ten-year re-entry bars that have caused  so much misery and heartbreak in many immigrant families.

A 100-day “pause” on removals, though with some exceptions, has already been instituted.

On the employment immigration front we could soon see work permits for spouses and children of H-1B visa holders.  H-1B quota rules currently applicable to foreign nationals graduating from U.S. universities with doctorates in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines may soon be eliminated.

These are exciting times for members of the immigrant community.  Please do not forget, however, that persons who might be able to benefit from the changes already in place or that are pending should first consult with an immigration attorney before committing to a particular plan of action.  Many parts of  U.S. immigration law are extremely complex and subject to rapid chance, especially now, where laws and regulations that have been in place for decades may soon be disappear or be drastically revised.