Biden Immigration Bill – Unveiled

On January 20, 2021, President Biden sends Immigration Bill to Congress as part of his commitment to Modernize the Immigration System

Today February 18, 2021, Congressional Democrats unveiled an immigration overhaul bill. The House bill, led by California Congresswoman Linda Sánchez, is expected to move quickly. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, will lead the legislative effort in the United States Senate. The bill expected to provide pathways to citizenship & strengthen labor protections.

This is perhaps a better provision of legal immigration, which has benefits for family-based immigration for a larger extend and also covers Employment-Based Immigrants. Also, provisions for farm workers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and undocumented immigrants.

Here are some of the key highlights from the the legislation:

  • Increases the family-sponsored cap from 226,000 to the cap of 480,000 by ending the requirement to deduct immediate relatives from the cap. Also, recaptures the unused family based green cards from 1992 through 2020.

    • Currently, the actual limit is calculated each year as 480,000 minus the total number of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who became permanent residents in the previous fiscal year. If the result comes out to be below 226,000, the annual limit will be set at 226,000, as required by law.

  • F2A: Spouses and unmarried minor children (under age 21) of green card holders. Provision reclassifies F2A category from the Family Based cap of Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) by classifying them as immediate relatives, freeing up additional green cards for family members of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

  • Increases per country cap for Family-Sponsored caps to 20% from 7%.

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  • A provision authorizes DHS to prioritize the distribution of H-1B and potentially other nonimmigrant work visas, based on the wage offered by the employer.

  • Increases the Employment Based cap, from 140K to 170K and recaptures the unused Employment Based green cards from 1992 through 2020.

    • Currently, Every fiscal year (October 1st – September 30th), approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of U.S. immigration law. Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories.

  • Eliminates Per-Country Cap for Employment Based immigrants.

    • Per-country cap: Currently 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits. If the limits are 226,000 and 140,000, respectively, the per-country limit will be 25,620, which is 7% of (226,000 + 140,000). Furthermore, the per-country cap of 25,620 is divided into family-based limit (15,820) and employment-based limit (9800).

  • Work Authorization for H4 Visa holders (Spouses and children of H-1B workers) and most children would be protected from aging out while the petition is pending. Authorizes DHS to extend non immigration status of an H1B worker, child & also beneficiary of an EB1, EB2, EB3 during adjustment of status is pending.

  • Another provision would grant permanent residence to anyone who has waited 10 years with an approved immigrant petition.

  • Authorizes extensions in one-year increments for non immigrants (F (student), H1B, L2, O visas) stays while their labor certification applications or or I-140 immigrant visa petition have been pending for more than a year. This will be a huge benefit for OPT students who can not make it to H1B cap.

  • Reduction in backlogs would be achieved in part by exempting Ph.D. graduates working in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields from the green card quota.

  • Authorizes DHS to temporary reduce EB2, EB3 during high unemployment in particular geographical areas.

  • F-1 dual intent: The bill explicitly permits dual intent for full-time postsecondary F-1 students, permitting the group to more easily pursue permanent residence while in full-time student status.

  • Other provisions like increase diversity visas, Elimination of three- and ten-year bars, V visa provisions, Asylum and U visa reform, Central American region, Streamlined naturalization requirements for some lawful permanent residents etc.

Overall, the pathway to citizenship would benefit both undocumented and legal immigrants, clearing away the employment-based backlog, the family-sponsored reforms & backlogs. 

What’s next: With the same text the bill should get passed in both House and Senate before President Signature. With the immigration history this is still far from reality, but created hope for major Green Card backlog immigrants.

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