President Biden Introduces U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 in Congress

February 22, 2021 Anne Walsh

Key Points

  • President Biden has sent an immigration reform bill to Congress called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021
  • The bill proposes many employment-based changes, including reducing immigrant visa backlogs, eliminating per-country limitations from green card lines and H-4 visa work authorization for spouses and children
  • The bill would allow, if separately upheld, a change in the H-1B lottery selection process to a wage-based selection process
  • The bill provides a track to U.S. citizenship for eligible TPS and DACA beneficiaries
  • Updates on the bill’s status in Congress will be provided as they become available

Overview

President Biden has introduced a comprehensive reform bill, called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, in Congress. The bill, which was announced on Biden’s first day in office, outlines key plans for domestic immigration reform.

What are the Changes?

The bill introduces many changes, including the below, and instructs U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to replace the term “alien” with “noncitizen.”

Employment-Based Changes

Employment-based changes proposed by the bill include:

  • Reduce immigrant visa backlogs, including eliminating 7% per-country caps from green card lines, and allowing noncitizens with a priority date of 10 years of longer to apply for a green card
  • Exempt from annual green card limits STEM PhD graduates from accredited U.S. universities
  • Provide employment authorization for H-4 spouses and children, and allow children granted H-4 by age 18 to extend H-4 status beyond age 21
  • Expand eligibility for extensions of stay based on PERM labor certification filing and I-140 Petition approval to include F-1, L-1, and O-1
  • Authorize DHS, if separately upheld, to change the current H-1B lottery selection process to a wage-based selection process. The new rule is scheduled to take effect on December 31, 2021
  • Provide for temporary limitations on immigrant visas in areas with high unemployment

Protections for TPS and DACA Beneficiaries

The bill provides a track to U.S. citizenship for eligible TPS and DACA beneficiaries.

What Should Employers and Applicants Know?

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Menendez, D-NJ and in the House of Representatives by Linda Sanchez, D-CA. Updates on the bill’s status in Congress will be provided as more information becomes available.


Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Anne Walsh, who is a Managing Attorney at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.

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