Last week, Joe Biden was sworn into presidency. On his first day in office, President Biden made several actions to change the previous US immigration policy. He reversed several Trump administration immigration policies such as start accepting DACA applications ASAP, end the seperation at the border, change ICE orders, etc. He then unveiled a reform bill that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, increased technology at the border and addressed the root cause of migration from Central America.
Eight Year Pathway for 11 Million Immigrants
President Biden rolled out his immigration policy which included an eight-year pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status and an expansion of refugee admissions. This policy would put millions of qualifying immigrants in a temporary status for five years and then grant them permanent residency (green card) once they meet certain requirements. Then three years later those permanent residents would be able to apply for citizenship.
In order to qualify, immigrants must have been in the United States as of January 1, 2021. This rule is an way to prevent any rush to the border.
Joe Biden issued an executive order calling on the secretary of homeland security to take all actions to “preserve and fortify” DACA. Previously, the Trump administration attempted to stop and halt all DACA applications. Joe Biden plans to preserve this program and help these DREAMers gain citizenship in the United States.
Undocumented Foreign Nationals
Another part of the eight-year plan is to allow undocumented foreign nationals who were already in the US on or before January 1, 2021, would be able to immediately apply for temporary legal status. After five years as a temporary resident, then they could apply for permanent residency after passing a security and criminal background check. After three years of being a permanent resident, they could then apply to become a citizen after passing the citizenship test and second background check.
Employment-Based Immigration Reform
The Employment-Based immigrant visa applications have been stuck in a backlog for years. President Biden plans on clearing these backlogs, recapturing unused visas, reducing the lengthy permanent resident processing times, and eliminate per-country immigrant visa caps. There will also be a plan for providing the H-4 visa which is employment authorization for spouses of H-1B workers. There would be a new pilot program to stimulate economic development which would allow the DHS the right to adjust green cards based on the economic conditions.
Family-Based Immigration Reform
President Biden plans on clearing out the backlogs of the Family-based immigrant visa applications. He would clear the backlog by recapturing unused visas from prior years and increase the per-country visa cap. There would be a new process that would allow foreign nationals with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family members in the US while their green card application is processing. Lastly, he would allow LGBTQ+ petitioners to sponsor family members.
There are several other items that President Biden includes in his immigration reform:
- Removing the word “alien” from any US immigration law and replacing it with the term “noncitizen”.
- Increasing 55,000 to 80,000 green cards available under the Diversity Lottery Visa Program.
- Immigration enforcement at the border and non-border would receive enhanced smart technology.
- Funding an agency to help address the underlying cause of migration from Central America to the US to help prevent the increased immigration numbers.
- New humanitarian program reforms would be implemented.