Policy

US passes Bills providing citizenship to ‘Dreamers’

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on March 19, 2021

Move may help children of H-1B visa holders seek citizenship after they turn 21

The passage of the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 by the US House of Representatives will pave the way for children of H-1B visa holders in the US to seek citizenship after they turn 21.

Under the current system, children of many non-immigrant workers in the US, including those on H-1B, lose their legal status once they are 21. The new Bill provides dependants of H-1B visa holders work authorisation, and children are prevented from “ageing out” of the system. This means that the H-4 visa holders will now be able to work. Also, the age of the H-1B workers’ children will be frozen so that they become eligible for a green card even after the age of 21, as the family waits, perhaps for decades, in the green card queue.

“Until now, immigration Bills sought to legalise the 11-million-plus illegal immigrants in the US. This is the first time that the Bill contains provisions that would also allow children of employees of non-immigrant workers who are trapped in the backlogged employment-based green card process to pursue the path for a green card and eventually US citizenship,” explained Poorvi Chothani, Managing Partner, LawQuest, a global immigration and employment law firm.

The proposed law is among the many regulations being brought in by the new Joe Biden administration to make immigration easier.

Safeguard immigrants

Immigration laws impact thousands of Indian immigrants on their way to permanent residency in the US. The series of immigration Bills recently proposed are likely to safeguard immigrants at large who have been the subject matter of debate during the Donald Trump administration, and provides room to unify families.

“Particularly, the recently-introduced Bill helps everyone in the employment-based green card backlog and many H-1B visa holders because, as soon as these children attain US citizenship, they can petition for their parents, provided they are over 21. This move plugs the vacuum for “legal dreamers,” who, under the existing legislation, unfortunately, lose their legal status when they turn 21,” said Sonam Chandwani, Managing Partner at KS Legal & Associates

But the challenge for Biden lies in passing this Bill through the Senate. “The Senate may not pass the Bill as it needs at least an estimated 10 Republican senators to vote in favour of the Bill. Further their path to a green card could get derailed due to a criminal history even as small as a misdemeanor,” said Chothani.

Published on March 19, 2021

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