US Citizenship Act of 2021: The Impact on Legal Immigration

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.

Temporary Visas

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