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BREAKING: U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 Introduced: What you need to know

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the latest immigration legislation, otherwise known as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.

So, what is this new bill all about and how can it benefit your family?

Keep on watching to learn more.


Overview


We have very exciting news for you today. We are pleased to report that Biden and congressional Democrats have introduced a brand-new piece of legislation known as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. While his new bill has not yet become law, it is creating a lot of buzz because it proposes an earned path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who were in the United States on or before January 1, 2021.

The new bill would create a “fast track” green card application process for certain types of immigrants including DACA recipients, those who qualify for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and farm workers who can demonstrate their work history.

The introduction of this bill is significant, because it appears that Congress is finally gearing up to compromise and pass a comprehensive immigration reform package for the first time in decades.


What are the main highlights of the bill?


The bill makes the following proposals:

  • Establishes an 8-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States by January 1, 2021
  • Provides an expedited path to citizenship for farm workers, those eligible for Temporary Protected Status, and undocumented young people who arrived to the U.S. as children with temporary status under DACA
  • Establishes Lawful Prospective Immigrant Status for 6 years
  • Replaces the word “alien” with “non-citizen” under immigration law
  • Raises the per-country visa caps on family and employment-based legal immigration numbers
  • Repeals the penalty that prohibits undocumented immigrants who leave the country from returning to the U.S. for between 3- and 10-years (repeals the 3 and 10-year bars) to allow for families to stay together without the need to file a waiver of inadmissibility
  • Expands transitional antidrug task forces in Central America
  • Increases funding for technology at the southern border


Earned Path to Citizenship: A Closer Look


One of the most exciting provisions of the bill is the creation of an 8-year pathway to citizenship for those who have been residing in the United States unlawfully on or before January 1, 2021.

How does this work?

The bill would allow undocumented immigrants who arrived to the U.S. on or before January 1, 2021, the opportunity to apply for a new type of temporary status called “lawful prospective immigrant status” or “LPI.” Essentially, “LPI” would be a gateway status that would allow such applicants to apply for permanent residence and citizenship in the future.

“LPI” status would be granted for a 6-year period. During this period of “LPI” status, immigrants would be eligible to apply for permanent residence after 5 years of being in “LPI” status. Afterward, such immigrants would be eligible to apply for US Citizenship (after having green card status for 3 years).

All in all, those eligible would be able to apply for citizenship after 8 years (5- years waiting period to apply for a green card while in “LPI” status and 3-year waiting period to apply for US Citizenship).

Those with DACA, individuals eligible for TPS, and farm workers with a demonstrated work history would be exempted from the “LPI” provisional status and would be permitted to apply for permanent residence directly without having to wait through an expedited “fast track” type of processing.

All others as described above would first need to secure “LPI” status (valid for 6-years) and once in valid “LPI” status would be eligible to apply for permanent residence after 5 years.

Summary

In summary, this new “LPI” status would give undocumented immigrants a 5-year period of provisional status, after which applicants would be able to apply for a green card. Three years later, they could apply for U.S. Citizenship.


V Nonimmigrant Visas for Family Reunification


The new bill allows for special provisions to keep families together via the V nonimmigrant visa type. This is a special visa type that has been created to allow families to stay together while waiting for the processing of immigrant visas. That means that family members of U.S. Citizens waiting in the long visa backlogs will be able to use this visa type to enter the United States while their priority date becomes current on the Visa Bulletin.


Reforming the Immigrant Visa System


Title III of the bill also proposes reforming the immigrant visa system by doing the following:

  • Recapturing immigrant visas lost in bureaucratic delays
  • Reclassifying spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives
  • Adjusting family-sponsored per-country limits
  • Promoting family unity
  • Providing relief for orphans, widows, and widowers,
  • Exempting certain veterans who are natives of the Philippines from immigrant visa limits
  • Reform of fiancée or fiancée child status protection
  • Retaining priority dates
  • Including permanent partners
  • Redefining “child” under the law

Increasing Diversity Visas and Reforming Employment-based Immigration


Among other things, this bill also makes the following proposals:

  • Increasing the diversity visa quotas from 55,000 to 80,000
  • Addressing visa backlogs
  • Eliminating employment-based per country levels
  • Increasing immigrant visas for “other” workers
  • Creating flexible adjustments to the employment-based immigrant visa program
  • Creating a regional economic development immigrant visa pilot program
  • Creating wage-based considerations for temporary workers
  • Clarifying “dual intent” for postsecondary students
  • Proposing H-4 visa reform and
  • Extensions related to pending petitions.

Questions? If you have immigration questions and would like to schedule a consultation, please call 619-819-9204 or text 619-483-4549. Our toll free number is 866-488-1554.


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