On President Biden’s first day in office he signed a number of impactful executive orders. One of these orders protects the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Policy, which was phased out under the Trump administration. This new executive order comes as a huge sigh of relief for the 2.1 million DACA recipients living and working in the U.S., who can now remain safely in the country and apply for a green card and eventually, citizenship.
What about Non-DACA Immigrants?
Biden has proposed a bill, called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, that would create an eight-year path to legal citizenship for all undocumented individuals currently in this country.
This path to citizenship is not exactly new, it is the same as the path for the “U-Visa,” which currently has a waiting list of about 100,000 people. However, the significant backlog is in large part due to the tight quota kept on issuance of new visas and Temporary Protective Status (TPS) under the Trump administration. Biden has stated that he plans to triple the amount of these visas issued annually with the intention of getting all undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the country a legal path to citizenship. Biden has also stated an intention to expand the availability of Temporary Protective Status to individuals who have had to escape their home countries due to political issues or natural disasters.
This plan must still receive the approval of Congress, but changes are in motion, with the DACA executive order already having taken effect, and growing support in the House and Senate.
How Does it Work?
Under this bill, undocumented individuals can apply for a green card. In order to receive a green card, individuals must be able to pass a background check, and must have been in the United States before the beginning of 2021. They must then maintain a job and keep a clean criminal record for five years, at which point they become a permanent resident. After another three years, they are then eligible to apply for citizenship. However, this policy would only apply to immigrants living in the country before January 31, 2021. Individuals deported under Trump cannot automatically return, however, those deported on or after January 20, 2017, can now seek a waiver from the Department of Homeland Security to re-enter the country. If the waiver is granted, they will then be awarded TPS and are eligible for citizenship after meeting the aforementioned requirements.
What to do
If you are living undocumented in Florida and want to become a United States citizen, it is advisable that you meet with an experienced immigration attorney to see if there might be an avenue for citizenship available to you under Biden’s new policies. Even if you have been discouraged or unsuccessful in seeking citizenship before, there may be a new avenue available to you now.
Additionally, if youare undocumented, facing legal or criminal trouble, and are concerned about being deported, HAWM Law can help.
HAWM Law is a small but mighty Central Florida law firm specializing in immigration and committed to helping you live the life that you deserve. Our lawyers will evaluate your unique circumstances and determine the best course of action for you to move forward. Contact HAWM Law today to schedule a free consultation. You can even book online to speak via phone or Zoom.