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U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021

Immigration is one of our firm’s top loves. America is a nation of immigrants, after all. There's a lot going on in the world of immigration these days. Today, we want to cover the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, the bill just submitted to the Senate.

On February 18, 2021, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 was introduced to the Senate by Representative Linda Sanchez and Senator Bob Menendez. The bill makes several bold changes aimed at “restoring humanity and American values,” and its provisions will impact almost every group of immigrants in the United States.


PATH TO CITIZENSHIP


One of the bill’s major goals and biggest changes is to “provide an earned path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States on or before January 1, 2021, as well as for their spouses and children. "Eligible entrants" would qualify for an initial period of authorized admission as a "lawful prospective immigrant," valid for six years and extendable by another six years.


The lawful prospective immigrant would have to:

  1. Submit an application;

  2. Undergo a background check;

  3. Pay a fee;

  4. Have been present in the United States before 2021; and

  5. Have been continuously physically present in the United States from January 1, 2021 until the date the application is approved.

Under this new process, spouses and children of a lawful prospective immigrant would not need to submit a separate petition.


Qualifying individuals would also receive a work permit and travel authorization which will not interfere with their continuous presence in the U.S. if it is properly authorized. A lawful prospective immigrant could become eligible for permanent residence after at least five years of prospective status. The new process would enable an authorized immigrant to join the US armed forces, be gainfully employed, and authorize them to travel.


IMPACT TO DREAMERS


The bill also discusses how a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) might also be eligible. They would have to:

  1. Submit an application;

  2. Undergo a background check;

  3. Pay a fee;

  4. Have been younger than 18 years of age when entering the US initially;

  5. Have graduated from high school or obtained a high school equivalency certification;

  6. Registered for the Selective Service if required; and

  7. Have either completed 2 years of or finished a bachelor's degree program or a postsecondary vocational program, served in the uniformed services for at least 2 years and not received a less than honorable discharge, or has earned income for at least three years and at least 75% of the total time they have held employment authorization, excepting such periods when they were enrolled in postsecondary education.

The Act would be great for those who already hold the DACA status, as they would be able to immediately apply for permanent residence under a streamlined program.


MISCELLANEOUS


The proposed Act is over 300 pages long. It includes provisions:

  • Raising the annual number of employment-based immigrants from 140,000 to 170,000.

  • Providing permanent residence, without numerical limits, to international students with PhDs in science, technology, engineering, and math fields from U.S. universities.

  • Increase diversity green cards from 55,000 to 80,000 each year.

  • Establish a pilot program for up to five years to admit annually up to 10,000 "admissible immigrants whose employment is essential to the economic development strategies of the cities or counties in which they will live or work."

  • Authorize employment for asylum applicants who are not detained and whose applications have not been determined to be frivolous.

  • Conduct a study on factors affecting employment opportunities for immigrants and refugees with professional credentials obtained in foreign countries.

Because the bill is so lengthy and detailed, it is probable that it might be passed in pieces instead of as one large act.


Immigration is an ongoing struggle for our nation. The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would open doors to immigrants and American companies that have yet to be opened. We will keep you informed as it rolls out.

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