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The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 - what does it mean?

Posted on March 17, 2021 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share


One of the points of the law is to keep families together. /Archive

One of the most significant changes in the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021—which is only a proposed law—is that it recognizes America as a nation of immigrants once again. Importantly, it changes the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in our immigration laws.  It proposes sweeping changes to US immigration laws that will have a positive more humane approach.  Although change is not certain, the following are several proposals that if in acted will revolutionize the US immigration policies and paths to citizenship. Please note, if you have questions about the status of the law—or of any immigration laws—or need a consultation or a referral, please call Catholic Charities’ New Americans Hotline at: 800.566.7636.

PROVIDE PATHWAYS TO CITIZENSHIP:

• Undocumented individuals will be able to apply for 6-year renewable temporary legal status (Legal Prospective Immigrant) with the ability to apply for green cards after 5 years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay taxes.

• DACA recipients, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers to be eligible for green cards immediately if they meet specific requirements.

• After 3 years, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can apply for citizenship.

• Applicants must be physically present in the US on or before January 1, 2021. Waiver may be provided in specific cases.

KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER:

• Treats children and spouses of LPRs as Immediate Relatives

• Reforms the family-based immigration system by clearing backlogs, recapturing unused visas, eliminating lengthy wait times, and increasing per-country visa caps.

• Allows immigrants with approved family-petitions to join family in the US on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards to become available

• Eliminates the “3 and 10-year bars” and other provisions that keep families apart  

• Includes permanent partnerships and eliminates discrimination facing LGBTQ+ families.

• Protects orphans, widows, children, and Filipino veterans who fought alongside the US in WWII.

EMBRACE DIVERSITY:

• Prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue future bans.

• Increases Diversity Visas to 80,000 from 55,000.

PROTECT WORKERS FROM EXPLOITATION:

• Requires that Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor form a commission involving labor, employer, and civil rights organizations to recommend improvements to the employment verification process.

• Workers who suffer serious labor violations and cooperate with worker protection agencies will have access to U visa relief.

• Protects workers who are victims of workplace retaliation from deportation to allow labor agencies to interview them.

• Protects migrant and seasonal workers and increases penalties for employers who violate labor laws.

Proposals for changes to border controls, cracking down on criminal organizations, and initiatives to improve the immigration court process, support asylum seekers, address root causes of migration, promote immigrant and refugee integration, and reform the citizenship process were also included.

C. Mario Russell, Esq., Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services

Originally published on El Diario