Immigration reform advanced another step in the legislative process, with the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 passing the House of Representatives.
The bill is much smaller than previously introduced legislation, which would have had more sweeping effects on U.S. immigration law. Nonetheless, the Act would still have a substantial impact on millions of individuals currently in the U.S. by creating pathways to lawful permanent residence and citizenship, roughly based on DACA, TPS, and DED, with some key differences.
Specifically, the bill provides for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence, on a conditional basis for 10 years, to certain individuals who are either present due to DACA or would meet requirements similar to DACA’s, save for date changes. Individuals who are inadmissible to or removable from the U.S., granted TPS or DED, or who are the children of individuals admitted to the U.S. on E-1, E-2, H-1B, or L visas could all use the Act to adjust status if also within the framework that creates a group collectively known as Dreamers. To qualify, entry must have taken place prior to turning 18, and continuous residence since entry must be established. Likewise, continuous residence must have started on or before January 1, 2021. An education requirement like the one currently in DACA would need to be met, as well. Other requirements would apply, including certain inadmissibility grounds, some of which could potentially be waived. Citizenship would be possible, but only after conditions are removed on permanent residence, allowed when an individual not otherwise barred from adjustment of status has either completed a college degree or at least two years in good standing of a higher education program leading to a degree or credential, has served for two years in the armed forces, or can demonstrate earned income for three years and 75% of the time an employment authorization has been held (subject to certain reductions).
Other individuals with TPS or DED, or who have qualified for either, could adjust status if applying within three years of the Act, having been continuously physically present for at least three years, and not inadmissible under specific grounds, pending waiver. However, TPS eligibility, whether received or not, would be based on the January 1, 2017, designations; DED eligibility would be determined as of January 20, 2021.
Though nine Republican Representatives voted in favor of the bill, the vote was mostly partisan. Democrats hold the tiebreaker in the Senate, but do not have a filibuster-proof majority and would need more Republican support to make the bill law. A 2019 version of the law passed the House, but not the Senate; the original DREAM Act and its successors, which did not pass, form some of the new bill’s basis.
As immigration law continues to change, Francis Law Center will keep you informed through its YouTube channel and blog. Should the Act pass, Francis Law Center will also be able to help with its impact on any case.
This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.
Written by Francis Law Center Staff Eric Liberatore