President Biden has proposed a series of changes to the US immigration system that would make it easier for immigrants to obtain US citizenship. In addition to the many Executive Orders reversing President Trump’s policies, these new proposals would make permanent changes that could affect numerous immigrants to the United States.
Proposals from President Biden
The proposals submitted by the administration would apply to 11 million undocumented immigrants and many others. These include allowing eligible foreign nationals present in the US prior to 1/1/2021 to apply for temporary legal status. Similarly, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals could immediately apply for green cards and citizenship after a period of three years.
The administration has also recommended the Secretary of DHS waive the requirement for a physical presence for those who were in the US for three years but were deported on or following 1/20/2017. This ties into the administration’s desire to keep families together and clear backlogs caused by deportations, denials, etc.
Notably, the administration has directed clearance of all backlogs for processing employment-based visas. It has also requested an increase of Diversity Visas from the current 55,000 to 80,000. This is aligned with similar requests to expedite processing for STEM visas and to improve access for green card applicants seeking work in lower-wage and blue collar jobs.
Smarter Immigration for the 21st Century
The world has changed significantly in the past year and President Biden has expressed a strong desire that US immigration processes and infrastructure be improved. This includes incorporating modern technology to expedite screening and processing at borders. This includes greater training for border control services and for individuals tasked with processing and reviewing visa applications.
The Citizenship Act of 2021 also includes funding for the formation of multiple visa processing centers in Central America. These facilities would streamline the process of reviewing applications for refugee status and for those displaced persons with family currently in the United States. This ties into a requested increase on the cap for U visas from the current 10,000 to 30,000.
Congress has indicated a desire to move quickly on the legislation and it is likely that the final version of the legislation could be sent to the president by summer. While it is not clear that every proposal will be accepted as submitted, it is likely that with Democrats having a majority in both houses that it won’t look significantly different.