Biden-Harris Immigration Reform Bill

Biden-Harris Immigration Reform Bill

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden sent the U.S. Citizenship Act to Congress. 

This is a sweeping reform of the U.S. Immigration system that will resolve many of the issues that have plagued those looking to make a life in the U.S. The White House explained that its purpose is “to restore humanity and American values to our immigration system.” (1) Most notably, it would develop an eight-year path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, keep families together, re-establish the United States as a refuge for that fleeing persecution, and improve economic opportunities.(2) 

The Law Offices of Nassim Arzani have been helping immigrants navigate the Green Card and Naturalization process for over 17 years. If you or your family are wondering how this reform bill will impact your immigration process, contact her offices in Irvine, Los Angeles, or Riverside at (951) 683-0900.

A Step by Step Approach to the Immigration Reform Bill

In order for this bill to become a law, it must be passed by congress. Unfortunately, it’s unclear as to when and how the Biden administration will push The American Citizenship Act through the Senate. Because of the closely weighted partisan sides, and conservative opposition to many of the immigration reforms, Democrats are treading lightly to avoid the bill being rejected entirely. They’ve decided not to vote on the entirety of this bill, but will instead be voting on vital bills that have previously passed. These are important steps to the rest of the rights that the US Citizenship Act allows for:

These hold life-changing potential for undocumented immigrants in America. The American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act create security and ultimately paths to citizenship for Dreamers and the essential workers who have risked their lives for all Americans.

About The American Dream and Promise Act

Immigration Services Orange County

This bill cancels and prohibits removal proceedings against certain immigrants who entered the US as minors, and grants them conditional permanent residence status for 10 years. This includes those who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, who would be able to apply for conditional permanent resident status. If the immigrant applies and meets certain requirements, such as completing certain programs at an educational institution or serving at least two years in the military and being discharged honorably, they will be eligible for legal permanent resident status (a green card), and ultimately able to apply for citizenship. Similarly, those with Temporary Protected Status would also be eligible to apply for an adjustment of status. If they meet certain requirements, they too will be eligible for a green card, and able to begin their path to citizenship.

Farm Workforce Modernization Act

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would also give green card eligibility and the opportunity to apply for citizenship after three years to farmworkers who can provide evidence of work history.

This bill allows immigrant farmworkers to apply for status as a Certified Agricultural Worker (CAW) Status, and changes the H-2A temporary worker guidelines. After performing the required number of hours of agricultural labor, maintaining presence in the US, and not being convicted of certain crimes, a non-resident farmworker can file an application for CAW status.

With CAW status, the farmworker has the right to:

  • Extend CAW status after 5.5 years
  • Obtain dependent status for spouse or children
  • Is protected from being detained or deported by DHS while their application is pending
  • Apply for legal permanent residence status (a green card) for themselves and their dependents after meeting various requirements.

For H-2A workers, this also means some exciting changes. It ensures that workers will receive minimum wage, and guarantees them a minimum amount of work hours from their employers. It also allows for rental assistance and support from the Department of Agriculture.

What Does the American Citizenship Act Mean for Immigrants in Orange County and Riverside?

The American Citizenship Act goes far beyond these two bills in reforming the immigration system. Besides offering an accelerated path to citizenship for certain undocumented individuals, it offers a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system to improve efficiency and humanitarianism.

The bill further recognizes immigrants by changing the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in our immigration laws.

This bill allows :

Paths to Citizenship

  • Undocumented individuals can apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes.
  • Dreamers, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers who meet specific requirements are eligible for green cards immediately under the legislation. After three years, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can apply to become citizens. Applicants must be physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021. (3)

Help for Central America

  • Addresses root causes of migration from the south and promises aid to Central America
  • Allows Central American Refugees and minors greater opportunity to apply for refugee status. 
  • Expands refugee and asylum processing, and improves processing, registration, and intake.
  • Improves border infrastructure for families and children. Regulates humanitarian and medical standards in USCBP custody, and child welfare at U.S. borders. (4)

Promotes Family Unity

  • The bill reforms the family-based immigration system by clearing application backlogs, re-allocating unused visas, reducing wait times, and increasing visa caps. 
  • Eliminates the “3 and 10-year bars,” and other provisions that keep families apart. 
  • Makes inclusions for permanent partnerships and LGBTQ+ families. 3109 inclusion of permanent partners
  • Immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the U.S. on a temporary basis while they wait for visas to become available.
  • Spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents are considered immediate relatives. (5)

Values Diversity

  • Prohibits discrimination based on religion and country of origin and limits presidential authority to issue future bans. 
  • Diversity Visas are increased from 55,000 to 80,000.
  • Allows non-citizen graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States; improves access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors; and eliminates other unnecessary hurdles for employment-based green cards.(6)

Hope for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

  • Streamlines processing of asylum seekers and addresses immigration court backlogs
  • Extends protection of refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable individuals
  • Removes time limits for asylum applications to be filed after arrival
  • Increases the cap on U Visas from 10,000 to 30,000. It also offers enhanced protection for individuals seeking T visas, U visas, and protection under VAWA
  • Funds resources and educational programs to help immigrants and refugees adjust and thrive in the United states. This includes English-language instruction, and providing assistance to individuals seeking to become citizens.(7)

Protection for Workers

  • Protects workers from exploitation and improves the employment verification process. 
  • Workers who suffer serious labor violations and cooperate with worker protection agencies will be granted greater access to U Visa relief. 
  • The bill protects workers who are victims of workplace retaliation from deportation in order to allow labor agencies to interview these workers. It also protects migrant and seasonal workers, and increases penalties for employers who violate labor laws. (8)

News about the Naturalization Civics Test

Immigration Services Orange County

There’s more great news for naturalization applicants: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reverted to the 2008 version of the naturalization civics test on March 1, 2021. This is part of Biden’s Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems

Last year, The Trump administration had doubled the length of the civics test, requiring applicants to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly to pass. 

The 2020 version also increased the number of potential questions from 100 to 128, expanding the amount of information to study in preparation for the exam. 

Luckily, the 2008 version is back, and only requires 6 correct answers out of 10 total questions

  • If you filed for naturalization on or after December 1, 2020 and before March 1, 2021, with an initial interview scheduled before April 19, 2021, you will be given the option to take either the 2020 civics test or the 2008 civics test. The 2008 Civic Test is much easier!
  • Those who filed their applications on or after March 1, 2021, will be given the 2008 civics test.
  • If you’ll be filing your application after April 19, 2021, USCIS will only offer the 2008 civics test, regardless of the filing date.(9) Good luck!

Legal Resources for Immigrants in Orange County

Immigration Services Orange County

These reforms will make for big changes in the immigration process. And although this bill is a much-needed start to making the immigration system just for all of those who want to pursue the American dream, congressional backlogs and partisan politics may delay these much-needed reforms. If you have traveled outside the United States, been arrested or convicted of a crime, or been ordered removed or deported, we strongly urge you to consult with an attorney due to your underlying immigration consequences. Nassim Arzani has a proven track record of overturning deportation orders, and keeping immigrants safely with their families.

You can read about her successful cases here.

Personal Consultation

Call (951) 683-0900 to learn she can help you achieve the American dream. 

If you have questions about your rights under these pending bills, please contact Nassim Arzani, Esq. During your consultation, she’ll review the intricacies of your case and determine the best way to resolve your immigration issues. With convenient locations in Orange County, Riverside, and Los Angeles, Ms. Arzani is a nationally recognized leader in the field of immigration law.

References

  1. The White House. Fact Sheet: President Biden Sends Immigration Bill to Congress as Part of His Commitment to Modernize our Immigration System | The White House. The White House. Published January 20, 2021. Accessed March 10, 2021. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/01/20/fact-sheet-president-biden-sends-immigration-bill-to-congress-as-part-of-his-commitment-to-modernize-our-immigration-system/
  2. Shear MD. Live Updates: Biden’s Immigration Plan Would Offer Path to Citizenship For Millions. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/02/18/us/joe-biden-news. Published February 18, 2021. Accessed March 10, 2021.
  3. American Citizenship Act of 2021, H.R. ? 117th Cong. Title I, Subtitle A- Earned Path to Citizenship 
  4. “”Title II – Addressing The Root Causes Of Migration And Responsibly Managing The Southern Border 
  5. “”Title III – Promoting Family Reunification
  6. “”Title III – Subtitles B-D
  7. “”Title IV – Immigration Courts, Family Values, And Vulnerable Individuals 
  8. “”Title V Title V Employment Authorization And Protecting Workers From Exploitation
  9. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Citizenship Resource Center Homepage. USCIS. Published 2021. Accessed March 10, 2021. https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship
DACA Reinstated

DACA Reinstated

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program is a set of protections that cover individuals who entered the United States as young people. Through no fault of their own, these aspiring citizens did not have the proper documentation, so DACA was designed to provide recipients the services they need to thrive in America. Those who fall under its umbrella can seek defense against deportation, they may qualify for work permits, and they are often allowed to travel abroad with obtaining an advanced parole (I-131 Application for Travel Document). 

If you have questions about your rights under the current DACA rules and regulations, please contact Nassim Arzani, Esq. With two convenient locations in Riverside and Los Angeles, California, Ms. Arzani is a nationally recognized leader in the field of immigration law. Call (951) 683-0900 to learn how DACA can help you live the American dream. 

Success Stories

About DACA

President Obama launched DACA back in 2012. Since then, the program has faced several hurdles and governmental challenges. However, as of December 7th, 2020, DACA has been fully reinstated. Pursuant to a Court Order from the Honorable Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now directed to restore the DACA program.

The Court Order directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to display a public notice on relevant agency websites that DHS is now:

  • Accepting first-time DACA requests;
  • Accepting renewal DACA requests;
  • Extending the duration of DACA and its accompanied employment authorization documents to two years.

The full text of the DHS public notice can be found here

Additionally, the Court Order directed DHS to inform and notify all members of the DACA Class Action suit of this new directive. To learn more about the DACA Class Action lawsuit or to sign up for more information, please visit this web page

Who Qualifies for DACA

An individual may request DACA protections if they meet the following criteria:

  • Were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

If you have traveled outside the United States, been arrested or convicted of a crime, or beenordered removed or deported, we strongly urge you to consult with an Attorney due to your underlying immigration consequences. 

Benefits of Consulting with Nassim Arzani

Nassim Arzani not only has over 17 years of legal experience in immigration matters, but she is a Certified Specialist under the California State Bar. She can help you navigate your unique situation and recommend the best legal course of action in light of the recent reinstatement of DACA.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at (951) 683-0900, or email us at arzanilawoffice@gmail.com – we are proud to address the immigration needs of Riverside, Los Angeles, and beyond. To get acquainted with Ms. Arzani and her vitally important work, please visit our blog

Proven Results

daca

Families were meant to stay together. DACA was ratified to help younger individuals fulfill their goals to become United States citizens, despite their legal status when they initially entered the country. Nassim Arzani is an expert in family-based immigration law. She will fight for you and your loved ones to ensure that you get the full array of legal protections that DACA provides.

FAQ

What is DACA and how does it apply to me?

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival. If you or someone you know entered the United States as a minor, you may qualify for DACA protections. Recipients may apply for advance parole travel documents and employment authorization, but most importantly: they can retain legal defense against the threat of deportation

References 

Public Charge Rule

Public Charge Rule

The public charge rule is currently back in full effect. On September 11, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided to suspend the lower court’s July 29, 2020 nationwide injunction prohibiting DHS from enforcing the public charge rule.1

This means anyone desiring to adjust their status to a lawful permanent resident (LPR), otherwise known as a “green card”, must submit the Form I-944 demonstrating they are not inadmissible under the public charge rule. The I-944 considers several “factors” such as:

  • Age;
  • Health and insurance;
  • Family status;
  • Assets, resources, and financial status;
  • Sponsor or co-sponsor’s annual income;
  • Education and skills; and,
  • Receipt of enumerated public benefits and the period of time the benefits were received.2

Again, the public charge rule only applies to those who seek to adjust their status to LPR status and excludes other categories of immigrants such as:

  • Refugees;
  • Asylees;
  • Certain T and U Nonimmigrant visa applicant; and,
  • Certain VAWA petitioners.

If you are a current client pursuing an adjustment, please be aware the public charge rule is currently the subject of constant debate and litigation so things may change in the near future. We assure to update you with any changes. If you are considering adjusting your status to an LPR we strongly urge you consult with our office, so we can best guide you towards overcoming this burdensome provision.

References

  1. https://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/e791eca7-43df-46fb-97c4-e509656b7ffd/2/doc/20-2537_opn.pdf#xml=https://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/e791eca7-43df-46fb-97c4-e509656b7ffd/2/hilite/
  2. https://www.uscis.gov/archive/public-charge-fact-sheet#:~:text=Definition%20of%20Public%20Charge,month%20counts%20as%20two%20months).
Fee Notice

Fee Notice

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) imposes filing fees on several immigration and naturalization benefit applications. On October 2, 2020, DHS is adjusting the filing fees for many immigration and naturalization applications to help meet operational needs.1 Under this new rule, some filing fees will be increased, others decreased. Some of the increases, however, significantly impact the cost of the more commonly sought immigration benefits, such as naturalization applications, provisional unlawful presence waivers, and certain U-visa benefits. To avoid being subject to these increased costs, we strongly urge any interested applicants to act quickly and submit their applications before the rule takes effect on October 2, 2020.
Some of the most noteworthy examples include:

  • Application for Travel Document, known as an 1-131, typically used for Advance Parole, Parole-In-Place, a Reentry Permit, or a Refugee Travel Document. They will see a 75% increase in price, rising from $575 to $1,010.
  • Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, known as a I-192, meant for those who are found inadmissible and will be applying as a U Nonimmigrant Status or T Nonimmigrant Status will see a 51% increase, rising from $930 to $1,400.
  • More notably, however, a CBP Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant will see a 139% increase, rising from $585 to $1,400.
  • Form I-193, Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa, meant to allow Legal U.S. Residents to reenter the U.S. without their passport/visa, is set to increase by 377%, rising from $585 to $2,790. 
  • Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, commonly used when a person has been unlawfully present in the U.S., will increase from $630 to $960, a 52% increase.
  • Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, will see a 28% increase, from $595 to $760.
  • Form I-765, Employment Authorization Applications, will rise from $410 to $550 for Non-DACA applicants. The fee for DACA beneficiaries will remain at $410.
  • Form I-881, Application for Suspension of Deportation or Special Rule Cancellation of Removal, will see an incremental 535% rise from $285 to $1,810. 
  • Form I-929, Petition for a Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Nonimmigrant, used for those who have an approved U Nonimmigrant relative, will rise an exponential 546% from $230 to $1,485.
  • N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings, will rise from $700 to $1,725, a 147% difference.
  • N-400, Application for Naturalization, used to apply to become a U.S. citizen will rise from $640 to $1,170, an 81% increase.

While we have highlighted some of the more notable increases going in effect on October 2, 2020, we encourage you to take a look at all these adjustments. https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-16389.pdf

El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS) impone tarifas en varias solicitudes de beneficios de inmigración y naturalización. El 2 de Octubre de 2020, DHS va a ajustar las tarifas de muchas solicitudes de inmigración y naturalización para ayudar a satisfacer las necesidades operativas. Según esta nueva regla, se aumentarán algunas tarifas y se reducirán otras. Sin embargo, algunos de los aumentos tienen un impacto significativo en el costo de los beneficios de inmigración más comúnmente buscados, como las solicitudes de naturalización, las exenciones provisionales por presencia ilegal y ciertos beneficios de la visa U. Para evitar estar sujeto a este aumento de costos, insistimos en que los solicitantes interesados actúen rápidamente y envíen sus solicitudes antes de que la regla entre en vigencia el 2 de Octubre de 2020.

Algunos de los ejemplos más notables incluyen:

  • La solicitud de documento de viaje, conocida como I-131, que generalmente se usa para la libertad condicional anticipada, la libertad condicional en el lugar, un permiso de reingreso o un documento de viaje para refugiados, verá un aumento del 75% en el precio, aumentando de $575.00 a $1,010.00.
  • La Solicitud de Permiso Avanzado para Ingresar como No Inmigrante, conocida como I-192, destinada a aquellos que son declarados inadmisibles y que solicitarán el Estatus de No Inmigrante U o el Estatus de No Inmigrante T verá un aumento del 51%, aumentando de $930.00 a $1,400.00.
  • Más notablemente, sin embargo, una Solicitud de CBP para Permiso Anticipado para Ingresar como No Inmigrante verá un aumento del 139%, pasando de $585.00 a $ 1,400.00.
  • El Formulario I-193, Solicitud de exención de pasaporte y / o visa, destinado a permitir que los residentes legales de los EE. UU. vuelvan a ingresar a los EE. UU. sin su pasaporte / visa, aumentará en un 377%, pasando de $585.00 a $2,790.00.
  • El Formulario I-601A, Solicitud de Exención Provisional por Presencia Ilegal, comúnmente utilizado cuando una persona ha estado presente ilegalmente en los EE. UU., aumentará de $630.00 a $960.00, un aumento del 52%.
  • El Formulario I-751, Petición para eliminar las condiciones de residencia, verá un aumento del 28%, de $595.00 a $760.00.
  • El Formulario I-765, Solicitudes de autorización de empleo, aumentará de $410.00 a $550.00 para los solicitantes que no pertenecen a DACA. La tarifa para los beneficiarios de DACA seguirá siendo de $410.00.
  • El Formulario I-881, Solicitud de Suspensión de Deportación o Cancelación de Expulsión por Regla Especial, verá un aumento incremental del 535% de $285.00 a $ 1,810.00.
  • El Formulario I-929, Petición para un familiar calificado de no inmigrante U-1, aumentará un 546% exponencial de $230.00 a $1,485.00.
  • N-336, Solicitud de audiencia sobre una decisión en procedimientos de naturalización, aumentará de $700.00 a $1,725.00, una diferencia del 147%.
  • N-400, Solicitud de naturalización, que se utiliza para solicitar la ciudadanía estadounidense aumentará de $640.00 a $1,170.00, un aumento del 81%.

Aunque hemos resaltado algunos de los aumentos más notables que entrarán en vigencia el 2 de Octubre de 2020, lo recomendamos que investigue todos estos ajustes y las motivaciones detrás de ellos, usted mismo. https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-16389.pdf

Immigration Court Hearings

Immigration Court Hearings

Immigration Court Hearings for non-detained cases in Los Angeles will be postponed for all Master and Individual Hearings scheduled through July 24, 2020. USCIS offices have opened on June 5, 2020. If you have any questions feel free to call us.