With the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, the Biden administration strives to reform immigration and open a new citizenship pathway for currently undocumented immigrants. While the legislation remains under review, Democrat lawmakers have urged the president to prioritize immigration in the next round of his infrastructure plan.
Explore the proposed act and how it could affect the immigration landscape for more than 11 million individuals.
Refined citizenship process
The law as written will provide legal status for any individuals in the United States but undocumented on or before January 1, 2021. These individuals must pass background checks and pay income taxes for five years. At this point, they become eligible for a three-year green card and can then take the exams to become permanent residents of the United States.
Support for education and integration
Biden has also proposed incentives for state and local governments, agencies, private businesses, community organizations, and educational institutions that create programs for new immigrants. These grants would go to those who provide job opportunities and education programs that stress English language instruction and support integration for those on the path to U.S. citizenship.
Protection for family and diversity
More families would be able to stay together during the immigration process under the new U.S. Citizenship Act. The law plans to reduce application backlogs to shorten wait times and reduce or eliminate periods of family separations. Individuals awaiting the availability of a green card can apply for temporary status in the U.S. to remain with their families.
The law includes new discrimination protections for religion and sexual orientation. Filipino war orphans, widows, children and veterans of World War II will also receive special consideration.