By Reuben Seguritan

President Biden has submitted to Congress a sweeping immigration bill known as the US Citizenship Act of 2021. It was introduced in the House by Representative Linda Sanchez and in the Senate by Senator Bob Menendez.

The bill would provide a path to citizenship to an estimated 11 million undocumented individuals who were physically present in the US on or before January 01, 2021. They will first apply for temporary legal status and after five years they will be able to apply for green card if they pass security background checks.

Under this bill, Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders and Farm workers will be eligible for green card immediately after meeting certain requirements. Dreamers refer to children who were under 18 when they entered the US and have a High School diploma or High School Equivalency.

Those who were deported on or after January 20, 2017 but were physically present in the US for at least 3 years prior to their removal may also be eligible to apply.

Green card holders will be eligible to apply for citizenship after 3 years provided, they pass additional background checks and are able to demonstrate knowledge of English civics and US history.

Also included in the bill are provisions aimed at keeping families together such as recapturing unused visas, clearing visa backlogs and increasing per country quotas. The 3- and 10-year bars will also be eliminated. The bill also provides protections for Filipino World War II Veterans, LGBTQ’s, widows, orphans, and certain aged out children. Immigrants with approved family-based petitions will be allowed to join families in the US on a temporary basis while waiting for visa availability.

Other provisions provide for growing the US economy such as eliminating restrictive requirements for employment based green cards, increasing the number of green cards and giving work permits to H1B dependents. Employment visas will increase to 170,000.

Diversity visas will go up from 55,000 to 80,000. Visas for victims of certain crimes will jump from 10,000 to 30,000.

According to a Politico/Morning Consult tracking poll 31% of registered voters think the bill passage should be a top priority of Congress. In a poll conducted by Emerson Colleges last month 55% favor granting a path to citizenship to undocumented individuals who are currently in the U.S.