By:  Richard T. Herman, Esq.

 

President Biden’s administration has announced a new immigration policy to protect undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens, addressing the broken immigration system and providing work visas for DACA holders with college degrees. This guide will take you through what we know now of the application process, eligibility, required documents, and common issues that may arise, with real life examples and data points to help you understand.

On June 18, 2024, President Joe Biden announced a new immigration program, “Keep Families Together,” that will allow some spouses of U.S. citizens to apply for “parole-in-place” with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This program is not yet open for applications and will benefit up to 550,000 people with temporary protections and work permits in the U.S. and the ability to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status (green card) through their spouse without being separated from their families for years.

 

Biden's New Immigration Program:  DHS

DHS: Protecting families and keeping them together

 

DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas issued this statement:

“Today, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to keep American families together and end the fear and uncertainty these families face when one spouse is a U.S. citizen and the other is undocumented. Many of these families have U.S. citizen children. The undocumented spouses who will benefit from our action have lived in and contributed to this country for an average of 23 years.”

The Issue

Spouses of U.S. Citizens

U.S. citizens can apply for their non-citizen spouse to get permanent residency. But the process is full of hurdles, especially for those who entered the U.S. without inspection, making it difficult to obtain lawful permanent residence. Many of these individuals have not been able to get the legal status they are eligible for because of bureaucratic red tape and the risk of being separated from their families if they leave the U.S. to attend consular interviews.

Real life example: Maria and John

Maria entered the U.S. without inspection over 15 years ago and married John, a U.S. citizen, 8 years ago. Despite being eligible for a green card through her marriage, Maria could not apply without being subject to a 10-year reentry bar due to her unlawful presence. This new program is a lifeline, allowing her to adjust her status (obtain a green card) without leaving the country and providing deportation protections.

The Solution: Parole-In-Place

Parole-in-place allows beneficiaries to apply for adjustment of status in the U.S., without leaving the country and triggering reentry bars. Even if the program is stopped or reversed in the future, those granted parole will have a much easier path to become permanent residents.

Work Visas for Deferred Action (DACA) holders

DACA holders with college degrees, under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, can now get high-skilled labor visas. This will help Dreamers to contribute more to the economy and society.

DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas:

“Additionally, we will work with our colleagues at the State Department to implement changes to the inadmissibility waiver process so that certain noncitizens who were educated in the U.S., including DACA recipients, can get high-skilled labor visas for which they are qualified.”

Checklist for Biden's New Immigration Program

How to Prepare to file for Biden’s New Immigration Program

Requirements

Unitted States Citizenship and Immigration Service has issued these instructions: Process to Promote the Unity and Stability of Families.

For Undocumented Spouses and Children

To be eligible for parole under this new process you must:

  • Be physically present in the U.S. without admission or parole.
  • Have been continuously present in the U.S. for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024.
  • Be married to a U.S. citizen (American citizens) as of June 17, 2024.
  • Have no disqualifying criminal convictions.
  • Not pose a threat to national security or public safety and pass vetting.
  • Merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

For DACA Holders Seeking Lawful Permanent Residence

To get high-skilled labor visas, DACA recipients must:

  • Education: Have a college degree.
  • Work Qualification: Be qualified for high-skilled labor visas.
  • Status: Be a DACA recipient (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

Preparing to File Your Application

Before the application process starts, you can do the following:

Document Gathering

Gathering documents is key. Here’s a list of documents to collect:

Proof of Continuous Presence

  • Utility bills, rent receipts or bank statements for at least 10 years.
  • School or employment records.
  • Affidavits from credible witnesses.

Proof of Marriage

  • Marriage certificate.
  • Joint financial documents, such as bank accounts, leases or mortgages.
  • Photos and communication records of the relationship.

Criminal and Security Records

  • Police clearance certificates.
  • Records of legal proceedings.

Other Favorable Discretionary Factors

  • Community service or involvement.
  • Employment history.
  • Letters of support from community leaders or employers.

Create or Update your myUSCIS Account

Having an account on myUSCIS will make the process easier. You can create or update your account on myUSCIS.

Application Process

Step-by-Step

  1. Wait for the Federal Register Notice: USCIS will publish a Federal Register Notice with the application process, forms and fees. According to a senior administration official, the Federal Register Notice will provide detailed instructions on the application process.
  2. Fill out the Forms: Once the notice is published, fill out the parole or work visa forms.
  3. Gather Documents: Collect the documents listed above.
  4. Pay the Fee: Fee information will be in the Federal Register Notice.
  5. Submit: Follow the submission instructions, which will likely be online and paper.
  6. Biometric: Submit biographic and biometric information as required.

Biometrics and Vetting

Biometric screening will be required, which includes fingerprinting and background checks. This is to verify identity and security.

Employment Authorization

Once paroled, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) using Form I-765 with category code (c)(11). This will allow you to work in the U.S. while your adjustment of status is pending.

Be Scam Aware

Watch out for immigrant scams. Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • Government Impersonators: USCIS will not contact you through personal social media accounts.
  • Scam Websites: Make sure the information you use is from official government websites ending in .gov.
  • Payments by Phone or Email: USCIS will not ask for payments through Western Union, MoneyGram, PayPal or gift cards.
  • Unauthorized Practitioners: Only get legal advice from attorneys or accredited representatives recognized by the Department of Justice.

Real-Life Stories and Examples

Example: David and Elena

David, a U.S. citizen, married Elena who entered the U.S. without inspection over 20 years ago. They have three U.S. citizen children. Despite being eligible for a green card, Elena was at risk of being separated from her family if she left the U.S. to apply for it. The new parole-in-place program gives her the opportunity to adjust her status (obtaining a green card) while staying with her family, and have stability and peace of mind. Immigration advocates have praised the new program for providing much-needed relief to families like David and Elena’s.

Example: Eduardo, a DACA Recipient

Eduardo, a DACA recipient with an engineering degree, has been in the U.S. since he was a child. The new policy allows him to apply for a high-skilled labor visa and work legally in his field and contribute to the economy. This will provide an opportunity to apply for a green card through employment. Eduardo’s story is a Dreamer who has been educated in the U.S. and is ready to give back.

FAQs

When does it start?

USCIS will publish a Federal Register Notice soon which will provide details on the application process and requirements. It will start later this summer.

What if I file with USCIS before the start date?

USCIS will reject any filings received before the start date. Wait for the announcement before you submit.

How long is the parole?

Parole will be for up to 3 years. During this period, eligible spouses can file for adjustment of status.

What documents should I gather in advance?

Collect documents showing continuous presence in the U.S., proof of valid marriage and any other favorable factors.

Will I need to submit biometrics?

Yes, applicants will need to submit biographic and biometric information.

Can I apply for EAD with my parole application?

You can apply for EAD after being paroled by filing Form I-765.

Are there fees involved?

Fees will be announced in the Federal Register Notice. Fee waivers may be available.

What if I have a criminal record?

Applicants with disqualifying criminal convictions or who are a threat to national security or public safety will not be eligible.

Can children of eligible spouses also be paroled?

Yes, noncitizen children who are physically present in the U.S. and have a qualifying stepchild relationship with a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024 can also be paroled.

What if the program is terminated?

Even if the program is terminated, those who are paroled will still be considered paroled into the U.S. and can file for adjustment of status without leaving the country.

Common and Not-So-Common Problems

Problem: Incomplete Documents

Make sure all required documents are complete and accurate. Incomplete applications will be delayed or denied.

Problem: Timing

Don’t file before the start date. Watch USCIS announcements for the exact date.

Problem: Legal Representation

Only use authorized legal representatives for advice and application help. Unauthorized practitioners will do more harm than good.

Problem: Biometrics

Missed biometrics appointments will delay your application. Attend all scheduled appointments.

Less Common Issue: Dual Nationality

If you are a dual national, make sure all documents are consistent and show U.S. residence and eligibility.

Less Common Issue: Prior Deportation Orders

If you have a prior deportation order, consult with an attorney to see how this will impact your eligibility and application process.

Other Considerations for Applicants

Employment History

Having a steady employment history can be a favorable factor in the discretionary review process. Gather documents such as pay stubs, employment contracts and letters from employers.

Community Involvement

Participating in community activities and volunteer work can bolster your application. Collect letters of recommendation and proof of involvement from community organizations.

Education

If you have attended higher education in the U.S., include transcripts, diplomas and any awards or recognition received. This shows your commitment to personal development and to society.

Real World Data and Statistics

Mixed Status Families

According to a report by the Migration Policy Institute, there are approximately 1.2 million mixed status families in the U.S. where at least one member is undocumented and others are citizens or legal residents. This policy could help many of these families by reducing the risk of separation and providing a more secure future. According to FWD.us, an immigration advocacy organization, this policy could help many of these families by reducing the risk of separation and providing a more secure future.

Economic Benefits

Research shows that legalizing undocumented immigrants has economic benefits. A Center for American Progress report says that legalizing undocumented immigrants could increase their wages by 15% resulting in more tax revenue and economic growth. Senior administration officials have emphasized the economic benefits of legalizing undocumented immigrants, noting the potential for increased tax revenue and economic growth.

Long Term Benefits

The American Immigration Council notes that immigrants who get legal status will invest in education, buy homes and start businesses and contribute to the long term stability and prosperity of their communities.

The Biden administration’s efforts to secure the southern border and address the broken immigration system are part of a broader strategy to provide long-term stability and prosperity for communities.

Summary of the Broken Immigration System

President Biden’s new immigration policy gives undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens a path and work visas to DACA holders with college degrees. Follow the steps in this guide to prepare your application. Stay informed by watching USCIS announcements and consult with authorized legal representatives to make the process smooth.

For more information and updates check the USCIS website.

By knowing the requirements and preparing ahead of time you can secure your family’s future and contribute to the community. This policy provides immediate relief and sets the stage for long term stability and integration for all parties involved and society as a whole.

By embracing this opportunity and preparing thoroughly, you can navigate the application process with confidence and hope for a brighter future for you and your family.

For further support, contact the Immigration Lawyers at the Herman Legal Group, by calling 18008084013.

 

Other Reference Material:

DHS Fact Sheet

American Immigration Council

American Immigration Lawyers Association

CNN