The bill, proposed by President-elect Joe Biden, is the most ambitious reform in US immigration law in 35 years. Let’s take a look at the changes that may take effect after the approval of the bill by Congress.
On his first day in office, Joe Biden sent his immigration reform bill, the US Citizenship Act of 2021, to Congress. Introducing the new bill, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters:
“President Biden sent the Immigration Bill to Congress today. The US Citizenship Act is modernizing our immigration system. It provides an opportunity for people who worked hard, made their contribution to the country’s economy and lived here for decades, to obtain citizenship. “
Psaki identified the key immigration priorities that prompted President Biden to back the bill, including responsible border management, family reunification, economic growth, addressing mass migration from Central America, and providing refuge for those fleeing persecution.
Fast Track to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants
Biden proposes to simplify obtaining documents for a large number of illegal immigrants living in the United States, namely:
If the bill is approved, undocumented persons who were physically in the United States before January 1, 2021, and were tested for any kind of offence, paid taxes and fulfilled a number of other requirements, will be able to remove conditions on green card.
For some categories of immigrants, the procedure for obtaining documents can be accelerated. This will affect people who illegally entered the United States as children, as well as agricultural workers and persons with temporary protection status.
This bill also removes three and ten year bans on stay in the United States due to illegal presence. According to the legislation still in force, many persons who could apply for a green card are not eligible to apply for visa documents due to a violation of status or a past visa delay. Many of these immigrants are also not eligible to apply for an immigrant visa at a US consulate overseas due to a provision of law that imposes a three- or ten-year ban on returning to the United States with a cumulative “illegal presence” of more than 180 days (3-year ban ) or one year (10-year ban).
Removal of Visa Restrictions
In addition, the new bill will contribute to the issuance of millions of previously unused immigrant visas, namely, it will reduce the waiting list for a residence work permit, remove visa restrictions for each country and provide accelerated procedures for issuing green cards for children and spouses of permanent residents. Moreover, the bill could prevent the forced departure of children of temporary workers (H-1B visa) from the United States or the search for independent ways of immigration for children after 21 years of age who are waiting for documents to move with their parents.
Large-Scale Immigration Reform in the United States for the First Time in 35 Years!
Congress hasn’t passed major amendments to immigration laws for nearly 35 years. The 1986 Immigration Reform Act, which granted legal status to approximately 3 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, was signed by President Ronald Reagan.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will pass the proposed law and what changes might be made to it. If no Republican backs the bill, Senate Democrats will need all 50 Democratic senators to back the bill. In the event of an equal number of votes for and against, Vice President Kamala Harris is likely to support the bill. The draft of the new law has a strong chance of approval in the House of Representatives, where Democrats have a majority of 222 to 211.
While Democrats generally support immigration reform, it is unclear if all Democrats will support the bill as it stands. In addition, it is likely that some Republicans may support the bill.
We will monitor developments and also await the reform of the EB-5 immigration program, which remains among the priorities for the new US government.
EB-5 Regional Center Program Extended to June 30, 2021
December 21, 2020, the US Congress approved a package of bills included in the Law on the General Appropriations ( Consolidated Appropriations Act) in the 2021 year , which extends including the program of the regional centers of the EB-5 until 30 June 2021. However, as of December 23, 2020, President Trump has yet to sign the bill.
As a reminder, the most ambitious reform of the EB-5 Investment Immigration Program took place last year. So, from November 21, 2019:
- The amount of investments increased from 500 thousand to 900 thousand dollars for projects located in regions with a low level of employment (TEA – Targeted Employment Area), and from 1 million to 1.8 million dollars for all other types of projects;
- Requirements for confirming the belonging of projects to areas with a low level of employment have been tightened.
Extension of the duration of the EB-5 Regional Centers program has discussed for several years. The Investment Immigration Promotion Association IIUSA is working with the government to end the short-term renewal cycle. Finally, in December this year, a bill introduced in the Senate that, if passed, could significantly extend the duration of the EB-5 Regional Center program.