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Undocumented foreign nationals physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021

During his campaign, President Biden promised to send a bill to Congress on his first day that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. On February 18th Representative Linda Sanchez and Senator Bob Menendez introduced the bill to the House and Senate. The pathway to citizenship will include undocumented immigrants who were physically present in the United States on or before January 1st, 2021. The following provides a summary of the bill and the Citizenship process.

Bill Summary

An 8 year pathway to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants. It will provide many with a temporary status for 5 years. They will be able to obtain a work permit and travel abroad with assurance that they are permitted to reenter the United States. They will be eligible to travel, but they may not remain outside the country for more than 180 days. This temporary status would be referred to as Lawful Prospective Immigrant (LPI), and will be able to be renewed every 6 years.

Eligibility for Pathway to Permanent Residence

After 5 years of temporary status immigrants will be eligible to apply for a green card

  • Present in the United States on or before January 1st, 2021

  • Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20th, 2017 who were physically present for at least years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes

  • 5 years of continuous presence in the United States

  • Pay outstanding back taxes

  • Pass background checks

Eligibility for direct Permanent Resident Status

Dreamers, TPS and farm workers who meet specific criteria will be eligible for green cards immediately and will not have to wait 5 years. After three years of holding a green card they will be eligible to apply for citizenship. It will reduce the pathway from 8 years to three.

Eligibility for Pathway to Citizenship

After three years of continuous presence in the United States all green card holders who:

  • Pass more background checks

  • Demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics

Changes to Immigration Law

  • Eliminates the “3 and 10 year bans”

  • Clinton-era restrictions that prevent people who have been present in the US without authorization for more than 6 months from reentering the country for a period of 3 to 10 years

  • Increases protections for U visa, T visa and VAWA applicants

  • Raising the cap on U Visa from 10,000 to 30,000

  • Remove barriers to family-based immigration, including lengthy visa backlogs and employment-based green cards

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