The U.S. Citizenship Act, also commonly known as the “Biden Immigration Bill”, states as its purpose,
“to provide an earned path to citizenship, to address the root causes of migration and responsibly manage the southern border, and to reform the immigrant visa system, and for other purposes.”
For the the 11 million undocumented community members, the good news is that this earned path is less restrictive than it sounds.
For the General Undocumented Community
They may be eligible for lawful prospective immigrant status (LPI) together with their spouse and children). Requirements are 1) criminal/security checks and paying fees and 2) submitting an application. Spouses and children don’t have to submit a separate petition.
The initial period of authorized admission for a LPI is 6 years (unless revoked) and may be extended for additional 6-year terms if the LPI remains eligible, has passed background checks and has not had the status revoked.
LPIs will be given “documentary evidence of LPI status” – card – and be valid for 6 years.
LPIs will be considered lawfully present in the US for all purposes except they will not be eligible for certain ACA benefits and tax credits. LPIs are authorized to be employed. They are authorized to travel with their LPI document or a travel document approved by DHS if the original LPI document is lost, stolen or destroyed. Time outside the US is limited to 180 days in a calendar year unless DHS authorizes longer absences or the excessive time was beyond the LPI’s control (and the LPI isn’t inadmissible on certain national security or foreign policy grounds). SSA shall grant Social Security Numbers to LPIs. LPIs are allowed to join the US Armed Forces.
LPIs may then adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status if
- The applicant still meets LPI requirements and passes background checks and pays fees
- Submits an application under special procedures
- Has continuously been present in US as of January 1, 2021
- Has been an LPI for at least 5 years
- Remains eligible for LPI status
- Hasn’t been absent for more than 180 days (except as provided in Section 1101)
Grounds of inadmissibility under Section 212(a) previously waived won’t apply. All federal taxes must be paid.
For anyone who entered the US as children, they may apply for LPR status if following are met.
- Satisfies the eligibility requirements in Section 245G(b) (see Section 1101) including background checks and paying required fees.
- Submits an application
- Was younger than 18 years when entering the country initially
- Has a high school diploma, commensurate alternative award from a public or private
high school, a GED certificate recognized under state law or a high school equivalency diploma
- Has obtained a college degree (at least associate’s level and leading to a bachelors or higher or a recognized postsecondary credential from an area career and technical education school), has served in the Armed Services for at least two years or, if discharged, was honorably discharged, or has earned income for at least 3 years working at least 75% of the time the person had valid work authorization (except for people enrolled in a higher education program and they would get credit for that time toward the 3 years).
- Has registered for Selective Service if required.
The above requirements can be waived if there are compelling circumstances showing an inability to satisfy them. Spouses and children can also adjust.
A streamlined program will be created for people in the DACA program who are eligible for renewal of DACA. The rule barring DACA recipients from accessing the Affordable Care Act are being rescinded and the five-year requirements for accessing Medicaid and CHIP are also not applicable. Provisions also are included making DACA recipients eligible for FHA, Rural Housing Service, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage.
For TPS and DED recipients
They may apply for LPR if the following are met:
- meets the requirements of 245G(b), including criminal/security background checks
and the payment of all fees;
- submits an application pursuant to 245G(b)(1);
- has been physically present since 1/1/2017; and
- is a national of a foreign state, or if stateless, last habitually resided in such foreign state, with a TPS/DED designation under §244(b) on 1/1/2017
Spouse and children dependents are also eligible.
For Agricultural Workers
The may apply for LPR if the following are met:
- meet the requirements of 245G(b), including criminal/security background checks and the payment of all fees;
- submit an application pursuant to 245G(b)(1);
- determines that, during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date on which the noncitizen submits and application under this section, the noncitizen performed agricultural labor or services for at least 2,300 hours or 400 work days.
Spouses and children are eligible and they don’t have to meet the work requirement.
Finally, for all categories above, they will be eligible for citizenship 3 years after receiving LPR status or green card.