On February 18, 2021, the U.S. Citizenship Act was formally introduced to Congress. The proposed bill calls for comprehensive reform to all areas of immigration law. President Biden declared on this first day in office that he intended to “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system”. The massive, 353-page bill, proposes innovative solutions to the current and outdated immigration framework that has failed to keep up with the country’s needs.
The bill provides for a pathway to permanent residency and eventually citizenship for those with DACA, TPS or H-2A status.
With the goal of stimulating economic and scientific development, the bill proposes many changes to employment-based immigration including:
- Clearing visa backlogs by increasing per-country caps and exempting Ph.D. graduates working in STEM fields from the green card quota.
- Prioritizing the distribution of H-1B visas by wage offered by employers.
- Work authorization for H-4 dependants.
- Increasing penalties for employers who violate labor laws.
- Extensions of F-1, H-1B, L-1, and O-1 status if the foreign national has a labor certification or I-140 immigrant visa petition pending for over a year.
While the bill is only in the early stages of the legislative process, it will certainly be subject to debate and revisions in an effort to garner bipartisan support.