In February 2021, the US Citizenship Act of 2021 was introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives (HR 1177).
There is a lot of information introduced about how the Citizenship Act of this year will enable US citizenship for TPS holders, DACA recipients, H-2A farmworkers, and the 11 million undocumented people that live in the US.There are a lot of matters discussed in this 353-page bill, and because of its significant length, it’s most likely that all of it will not be signed into law. That said, there are some provisions from this bill that will be signed into law.
This article will, therefore, discuss some of the significant changes from this bill that will impact the legal immigration process in the US. Some of the matters that the article will cover are the provisions that could expedite getting a green card through family members and employment in the United States.
Employment-Based Green Cards
The US Citizenship Act of 2021 will increase the number of people that are eligible to acquire green cards via their employment. It also helps in ridding the existing per-country quotas. Furthermore, the bill prevents children from becoming too old to receive a green card while waiting for the priority dates to change to current.
Here are some important details about this category of the bill.
- There will be an increase from 140,000 in the total number of available green cards in the Employment-based categories to 170,000 annually. Moreover, there would be an increase of EB-3 green cards by 30,000 in the unskilled worker category.
- There would be exemptions from numerical limits for Ph.D. degree holders from universities in the United States in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM fields).
- There would be no numerical limits for those people that have an approved visa petition but have been for more than 10 years for the priority date to change to current. Therefore, people in such situations could apply for green cards right away. When the US Citizenship Act of 2021 is signed into law, this condition would be effective 60 days after being signed.
- As of October 1, 2021, there will no longer be a 7% per-country quota.
- Spouses and children would not be counted against green card numerical limits anymore after this bill is signed into law.
- Employment-based green cards that were not used between 1992 and 2020 would be accepted into the system again. There is an estimation that there are more than 200,000 such green cards.
- DHS would be able to create a 5-year pilot program that allows municipal executives or county executives to petition for a maximum of 10,000 immigrant visas every year. This would be done to support the economic development strategies of the respective regions. Employers would have to certify that there jobs available for the immigrants as there are no workers in the US there to perform said jobs.
- DOL and DHS would be able to issue regulations to stop issuing EB2 and EB3 green cards temporarily in regions that have high unemployment.
The US Citizenship Act of 2021 will enable overseas students to acquire green cards more easily. Therefore, this would spare them the process of partaking in the H-1B visa lottery. Thus, it would make the transition a lot easier for people who are working on temporary working visas to acquire green cards.
- DHS and DOL would be able to issue regulations to change the order that is used to select H1B visa applicants. It would prioritize it based on what wages the employers offered.
- F-1 student visas would be classified differently after the bill is signed into law. These visas would be classified as “dual intent” visas.
- H-4 spouses and children would be granted work authorization (EADs).
- F-1 students with OPT can renew their EADs after one year (as long as they are in the green card process). They would have to have a pending PERM application that they applied for one complete year before their F-1 status expiration. They can also do this if they have an approved or pending I-140. Therefore, people in this situation would not need to acquire H-1B status anymore.
- Victims of valid claims of workplace abuse and those who cooperate with law enforcement or are material witnesses to such claims can choose U visas as an option.
- The bill would permit extensions of H-1B, F-1, O-1, and L-1 status in one-year increments. The person would have to have an approved or pending I-140 visa petition or have a PERM application that has been pending for over a full year.
- There would be an increase in the annual cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000.
- There would be an expansion of V visas, allowing those with approved I-130s to enter the united states with their family while waiting for their priority dates to change to current. In addition to that, they will be allowed to seek employment in the United States.
- The Citizenship Act of 2021 would protect immigrants who act as whistleblowers, i.e., people that report unfair labor practices.
The Citizenship Act of 2021 would allow family members of green card holders and US citizens to avoid being separated from their relatives in the United States during the time it takes for their priority dates to become current. There will be a significant increase in the number of family-based green cards. Moreover, there would be an expansion in per-country quotas.
- Beneficiaries of I-130s (approved family-based visa petitions) would be permitted to be united with their family members and seek employment in the United States in V visa status. At the same time, they can wait for their priority dates to change to current.
- There would be a significant increase in the numerical cap on family-based green cards.
- Spouses and children would no longer count against numerical green card limits.
- Family-based green cards that were not used between 1992 and 2020 would be accepted into the system again.
- Green card holders’ spouses and minor, unmarried children would be counted as “immediate relatives.” Therefore they would not be counted against numerical limitations.
- As of October 1, 2021, there would be an increase in family-based per-country quotas from 7% to 20%.
- People with approved visa petitions who had waited for more than 10 years for their priority date to change to current would not be subjected to numerical limits any longer. They would be allowed to apply for their green card right away. When the US Citizenship Act of 2021 is signed into law, this condition would be effective 60 days after being signed.
- The bill permits “permanent partners” to receive and sponsor immigration benefits. These benefits include adult couples that cannot marry in their respective countries.
Child Status Protection Act
- H-4 children would not be allowed to “age-out.” This would be done by including their ages on the date on which the PERM application was filed with DOL. However, if a PERM application was not required, then the ages would be considered on the date that the visa petition was filed with USCIS.
- Sons or daughters that age out during the time their parents’ FB or EB priority dates to change to current, they could retain the priority dates of the original FB or EB petitions if the parents sponsor the sons or daughters for green cards.
- A K-2 child’s age would be considered as the date that an I-129F (fiancée petition) is filed.
- Beneficiaries of PERM applications or visa petitions that were “approvable when filed” could retain the priority dates of the original petitions despite the fact that the new petitions may be in another category. This would also be the case if the new petitions are family-based or employment-based.
- The Citizenship Act of 2021 would waive the Civics/History and English education requirements for people who have completed from 9th through 12th grade and have graduated with a high school diploma in the United States.
- Green card holders would have Reduced Residency Requirement for naturalization from 5 years to 3 years.
- People who have been green card holder for at least 10 years and are 60 years old or greater would be exempt from the naturalization English language requirement.
- People who have been green card holder for at least 5 years and are 65 years old or greater would be exempt from the naturalization the Civics/History and English language requirements.
- People that falsely claiming U.S. citizenship when they were under the age of 21 would not subjucted to grounds of removal or inadmissibility.
- On the basis of one case to the other, USCIS may waive the Civics/History test for naturalization to people that are 60 years old and have had green cards for at least 10 years.
- The Citizenship Act of 2021 would abolish the 1-year deadline for those who wish to apply for asylum in the United States.
- The number of of green cards winners via the Diversity Visa Lottery would see an increase from 55,000 to 80,000 annually.
- The bill would eliminate the 3 and the 10-year unlawful presence bars.
If you should have any questions or need more information about the ways in which the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x104). You can also visit our Law Firm’s website at www.visaserve.com