Undocumented Immigrants and the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021

The White House introduced new legislation, called U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, this month. If it passes, it will implement the most sweeping changes to immigration law in several decades.

Path to Citizenship

The bill aims to open a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants living in the United States. For example, this includes individual, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and immigrant farmworkers. The most critical piece of this bill is the date: January 1, 2021. In order to be eligible, all undocumented persons must  prove that they were in the United States on or before that date. People who will meet the eligibility date and other requirements can apply for temporary legal status in the United States. Other requirements may include passing a background check and knowledge of English and US civics.

Another piece of the legislation allows eligible Permanent Residents to apply for naturalized citizenship within three years. Undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children will have an expedited path to obtain their Permanent Resident Status. This provision includes DACA recipients, TPS, and farmworkers. An undocumented immigrant who qualifies under this provision would be eligible to apply for permanent resident status immediately, instead of waiting five years.

Family Reunification

The Family Reunification provision in the legislation will reduce the waiting time so that families can reunite quickly. The new administration wants to clear the backlogs in all family categories and increase the number of visas per country. For example, non-citizen spouses and children of citizens or Permanent Residents would be considered immediate relatives. The legislation also enables immigrants with an approved family petition to join the family in the United temporarily while the petition is in the process.

This bill is currently a proposal; it is not yet law. It has a difficult road ahead before the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 will become a U.S. Immigration Law.  Please note that the final immigration law, when implemented, may not be the same as this initial draft.    

We Can Help

Consult with immigration legal counsel before traveling abroad if you have specific issues or questions and to make sure you have the latest information. Migration Resource Center has the experience and know-how to resolve your immigration issues, whether you’re an individual living in the United States, a business employing foreign nationals, or an individual looking to work and live in the United States. Clients turn to us for assistance with even their most complicated and sensitive immigration matters.

If you have immigration issues or questions, we can help! Please contact us at (646) 609-8805 or use our webform to schedule a free immigration consultation.

By Frederik Stefani, MRC Immigration Attorney & CEO – February 24, 2021