Wooden And Gold Gavel Used In Immigration Law Resting On A Table

Immigration Reform Bill Introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives - Immigration News for February 19, 2021

Wooden And Gold Gavel Used In Immigration Law Resting On A Table

Peri B. Edelman | February 19, 2021

Immigration Reform Bill Introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives

Senator Bob Menendez and Representative Linda Sanchez introduced a bill to the Senate and House yesterday. This reform bill, if passed, would be the 1st immigration reform bill to be passed in twenty-five (25) years.

Certain elements of the bill have previously been floated in Congress. Initially, the Democrats stated that they are looking for a comprehensive reform bill. However, they are open to breaking up the bill. The Biden administration has also stated a willingness to break up the reform bill into different parts.

Here are the highlights of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021:

 1. Pathway to Citizenship for Undocumented Individuals
The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would create an eight-year path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the United States. First, it would provide them with a new type of temporary status for five (5) years and then allow them to obtain U.S. citizenship after another three (3) years. The path to citizenship only applies to people who have been in the country since Jan. 1, 2021.

This part of the bill is more than likely to be struck down as there is too much opposition to this component.

2. Pathway to Citizenship for DACA and TPS recipients
Individuals who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or qualify for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from countries suffering from war and natural disasters, who can prove they have a work history and other requirements would be granted residency and then citizenship.

It has been surmised that this part of the bill may get passed.

 3. Increasing Visa Caps
The bill would increase visa options on family-based green cards by increasing the country caps and reopening approximately 200,000 unused bills from previous fiscal years. Employment-based visas would also increase from 140,000 to 170,000 per fiscal year.

4. Change to the word “Alien”
The bills changes the word “alien” to the term “noncitizen” when describing undocumented individuals in the Code of Federal Regulations.

5. Lift of 3 and 10 year bars
The bill lifts the 3 and 10 year bars that restrict individuals from re-entering the country if they overstayed their visa.

6. Increase of U non-immigrant visas
The bill triples the number of visas available from 10,000 to 30,000 per fiscal year. These visas are available to individuals who have been victims of serious violent crimes and domestic violence in the United States.

7. Border Backlog
The measure provides funding for more immigration judges and support staff to help with the backlog of asylum seekers. The bill also sets up $4 billion in aid for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to address the root cause of migration in those countries.

 8. Increased Border Security
The bill provides for increased security at ports of entry focused on detecting drugs and other contraband.

9. Existing Criminal Penalties
Existing criminal penalties for unauthorized immigrants remain in place, including those that bar certain criminals from obtaining green cards. Under existing law, anyone convicted of an aggravated felony or a crime involving illegal narcotics is not admissible in the U.S.

10. Increase of Diversity Visas
The bill also increases the number of diversity visas issued for countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. from 55,000 to 80,000 per fiscal year.

This newsletter is a general information regarding recent changes in immigration law. Every matter is different. If you believe a recent change applies to you, please contact my office. If you know someone who it applies to, please refer them to my office. Thank you.

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Peri B. Edelman is an experienced attorney who practices Immigration Law in New York City. She provides immigration legal services, legal counsel on immigration matters, and legal support for court cases related to Immigration. A graduate of Brooklyn Law School, Peri B. Edelman is admitted to the New York and Connecticut Bars, U.S. Eastern District Court of New York, U.S. Southern District Court of New York, and United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.