New Immigration Bill Introduced: The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021
A new presidential administration typically starts off running with its highest priorities on day one. That is precisely what happened when President Biden took the oath of office on January 20, 2021. On the same day as his inauguration, President Biden sent an immigration bill to Congress – The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 – in order to modernize our immigration system.
What is so symbolic about sending this bill to Congress on the very day he took office is that it demonstrates that immigration reform is at the very top of President Biden’s agenda. Moreover, the bill proposes massive changes to the U.S. immigration system.
In this article, we are going to discuss some of the details of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, and then give you some thoughts on whether the bill will ultimately become a law. Remember, at this point, the bill that President Biden sent to Congress is not a law. The bill still needs to pass the House and Senate. Yet, there are so many new provisions in the bill meant to improve U.S. immigration, that it is worth taking a closer look.
If, after reading this article, you have more questions about recent immigration updates, then we invite you to contact us at Ashoori Law. Feel free to call us at +1-818-741-1117 or you may schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.
Pathways to Citizenship
Probably the most significant part of President Biden’s proposed immigration bill focuses on a path to citizenship for noncitizens in this country. In particular, the bill proposes the following:
- Establish an 8-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The bill allows undocumented people to apply for temporary legal status, which will then give them the ability to apply for a green card in five years after passing a criminal and national security background check, and after they begin to pay taxes.
- Expedited path to citizenship for some. DACA Recipients, those with Temporary Protected Status, and immigrant farmworkers who meet certain requirements can be eligible for green cards immediately under the proposed bill. Also, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can apply to become citizens after three years, rather than five.
- Replace “alien” with “noncitizen.” The bill will update the laws in the U.S. by changing the word “alien” to “noncitizen.”
Keeping Families Together
The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 put a premium on keeping families together. Some of the provisions to ensure that occurs are as follows:
- Raising per-country caps. The proposed bill focuses on family-based immigration by clearing backlogs in the immigration system, recapturing unused visas, eliminating lengthy wait times, and most importantly, increasing per-country visa caps.
- Repeal three- and ten-year bar to reentry. Back in 1996, Congress established the “three- and ten-year bars” that prevent certain individuals from returning to the U.S. for any purpose if they had voluntarily departed after having been unlawfully present in the U.S. for an extended period of time. The three-year bar applies to those who have been in the U.S. unlawfully for more than six months, and the ten-year bar applies to those who have been in the U.S. unlawfully for a year or more. President Biden’s proposed bill will eliminate those three- and ten-year bars.
Smarter Border Controls
Finally, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 proposes to use technology and infrastructure to stop narcotics from passing through our borders. Specifically, the bill seeks to:
- Improve and expand anti-gang task force. The bill requires that that FBI, DEA, and DHS, in coordination with the Secretary of State, improve and expand the transnational anti-gang task forces that are operating in Central America.
- Funding for technology at the southern border. The bill also allocates a record amount of funds to deploy technology so that DHS can expedite screening and enhance detection of narcotics and contraband at every port of entry, and between ports of entry particularly across the southern border.
It’s Not Law, Yet
As you can see, President Biden’s proposed immigration bill is ambitious in its goals, which of course means that it will be a challenge to get through Congress. In fact, for the bill to pass the Senate, it will need 60 votes – that means 10 Republicans need to vote for it which is highly unlikely. So, the chances that President Biden’s bill will become law, as written, are very low.
That said, there is more hope that different, smaller pieces of the legislation could be passed in a series of smaller bills over time. So, there is still potential that some of President Biden’s significant proposals may eventually get signed into law.
My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States. If you have any questions, feel free to schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.
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Michael Ashoori, Esq.
U.S. Immigration Lawyer
I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.
Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.
Got a question? Send me an email.