President Biden has sent an immigration bill to Congress that Senator Menendez (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Sánchez (D-CA) will sponsor. Here are main points of the Bill:

• Legalization and path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants

o Dreamers, TPS recipients, and farmworkers will qualify for green cards immediately and can apply for citizenship after three years.
o All other unauthorized immigrants will receive a conditional status, including employment authorization, for five years, following which they can apply for citizenship after another three years, assuming they qualify. Applicants must be physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20, 2017 who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes. Lastly, the bill further recognizes America as a nation of immigrants by changing the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in our immigration laws.

• Reforms to the family-based immigration system, including:

o Steps to clear backlogs, reduce wait times, and recapture lost visas
o Elimination of the 3- and 10-year unlawful presence bars
o Inclusion of spouses and children of lawful permanent residents as immediate family members not subject to the cap
o Increase of the per-country limits for family-based immigrants

• Reforms to the employment-based immigration system, including:

o Provisions to clear backlogs, reduce wait times, and recapture lost visas
o Elimination of the per-country limits for employment-based immigrants
o Provision of employment authorization for dependents of H-1B holders and protection to prevent children of H-1B holders from aging out
o Improvements for STEM advanced degree holders from U.S. universities to stay in the United States
o Improved access to green cards for workers in lower-wage industries
o Authorization for DHS to adjust visa numbers based on macroeconomic conditions

• Diversity Visa Program will be increased to 80,000 visas per year (from 55,000)
• Reforms to the immigration courts, including steps to reduce backlogs and restoration of judicial discretion to grant relief
• Expansion of legal representation and legal orientation programs
• Improvements to asylum, U visa, T visa and VAWA humanitarian programs, including elimination of the 1-year asylum filing deadline and increase of the U visa cap to 30,000 visas
• Prohibition against future discriminatory bans such as the Muslim and African travel bans
• Reforms to manage the border and ports of entry including increased accountability measures and increased resources, technology, and infrastructure
• Programs and funding to address the root causes of migration from Central America
• Protection for workers from exploitation
• Improvements to the E-Verify employment verification system
• Funding for immigrant integration initiatives at the state, local and community level

The legislation faces an uphill climb in a narrowly divided Congress, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just a five-vote margin and Senate Democrats do not have the 60 Democratic votes needed to pass the measure with just their party’s support. Administration officials argued Wednesday evening that the legislation was an attempt by President Joe Biden to restart a conversation on overhauling the US immigration system and said he remained open to negotiating.

Tagged Biden immigration bill, immigration policy, immigration reform bill 2021