The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (the “ADPA”) is a bill that is making its way through the US Congress. At the time of this writing, it has already been passed by the House of Representatives but is still awaiting a vote in the Senate. Its purpose is to offer permanent residence to DACA beneficiaries as well as people who have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

The Biden administration has also proposed a more comprehensive immigration bill, the US Citizenship Act of 2021, that includes many of the same provisions as the ADPA. The problem is that Biden’s comprehensive immigration bill seems unlikely to make it through Congress unscathed, generating the need for standalone legislation. The provisions of the ADPA, however, are somewhat stricter than the provisions of the US CItizenship Act of 2021. The ADPA’s major provisions are outlined below.

Expedited Permanent Residence for DACA Beneficiaries

The ADPA would offer an expedited process for you to become a conditional permanent resident, and no additional fee would be required. If you already met the criteria for unconditional permanent residence, you would be immediately eligible for unconditional permanent residence. See below for the difference between conditional permanent residence and unconditional permanent residence-

Requirements for Conditional Permanent Residence

Under the ADPA, you would be eligible for conditional permanent residence if you meet the following requirements:

  • You would have to have been a continuous resident of the US prior to January 1, 2021.
  • You would have to have been under 18 years old when you first entered the United States.
  • You would have to pass a background check designed to determine if your presence would constitute a security risk to the United States.
  • You must not have ever been convicted of (i) a crime punishable by more than one year in prison (regardless of your actual sentence); (ii) more than two crimes committed on different dates where your actual sentence combines equaled at least 90 days in jail, or (iii) domestic violence related crime (these crimes will not be held against you if they were immigration law violations).
  • You must have either graduated from high school or obtained a GED.

Unfortunately, “conditional permanent residence” is not really permanent. Instead, it lasts for 10 years, during which time you must meet the requirements for unconditional permanent residence in order to remain in the US beyond that point.

Requirements for Unconditional Permanent Residence

Unconditional permanent residence is really permanent. Once you obtain it, it lasts a lifetime unless you forfeit it in some way (by living abroad for an extended period of time, for example). To adjust your status from conditional permanent resident to unconditional permanent resident, you must meet the following criteria within 10 years of obtaining conditional permanent residence:

  • Remain eligible for conditional permanent residence until the time you apply for unconditional permanent residence.
  • Meet one of the following conditions:
    • You earned two or more years of post-secondary academic credit;
    • You completed two or more years of US military service (with an honorable discharge if you are not still serving); or
    • You have been employed for at least three years, with no more than 25 percent of the total time accumulated while you were working illegally.

If you meet the foregoing academic, military, or employment requirements by the time the ADPA is passed, you can seek unconditional permanent residence immediately. To obtain unconditional permanent residence, you would be required to pay an adjustment of status fee of $1,140 plus an $85 biometrics fee.

Temporary Protected Status  (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)

TPS and DED status has been granted to nationals of certain countries that are considered unsafe to return to because of civil unrest, natural disaster, or similar reasons. TPS and DED are both considered temporary statuses. Under the ADPA, however, if migrated from one of these countries, you could secure the cancellation of removal proceedings against you and obtain lawful permanent residence, as long as you:

  • Had been physically present in the US for at least three years (ending on the date that the ADPA is signed into law); and
  • Were eligible for TPS by September 17, 2017, or obtained DED status by January 20, 2021.

Scope of the Act

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 is a highly significant piece of legislation. If it is passed, it would render up to 4.4 million people eligible for a green card and eventual US citizenship

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