Guide: American Dream and Promise Act of 2021

Posted by Frank Gogol
Updated on April 26, 2022

The American Dream is something that has been around us for quite some time. With waves after waves of immigrants coming into the pursuit of this American Dream, America became a power that is recognized throughout the world.

Still, in the beginning, the American Dream was just a concept. But now, the American Dream was made official through the Promise Act of 2021. What is the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, and how does it help the Dreamers? This article will give you a couple of ideas.

What Is the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021?

With voting results of 228 to 197, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 on Thursday, March 18. The purpose of the act is to open a path to citizenship to the millions of immigrant “Dreamers” that were living in the United States. That being said, the legislation faced quite some prospects within the Senate.

Many people came into the United States as children (also referred to as Dreamers), living there without lawful status and having no protection of an H4 visa. Also, many people would not be able to live in the U.S. as lawful residents or permanent citizens, all because the requirements were too strict and they failed to meet them.

This is where the American Dream and Promise Act comes in. The purpose was to take about 4.4 million Dreamers as well as those under protected status and make them eligible for permanent residency or perhaps even potential citizenship.

This bill also covers an immigrant group that most Dreamer legislations pretty much leave out. Here, we are talking about the “legal Dreamers” – children of people on work visas that eventually aged out of their status.

The Senate has yet to indicate how the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 will proceed. A separate bill, the Dream Act of 2021, has also been introduced into the senate. However, President Joe Biden has issued a statement that shows his support for the Promise Act of 2021.

How Does the American Dream and Promise Act Help Dreamers?

The American Dream and the Promise Act helps several Dreamers that never had or no longer have legal status in the United States. Catered mostly to children brought in the United States at a young age, it protects them from deportation and allows them to travel outside the country, without any issues.

With that in mind, there are certain things that Dreamers can benefit from once the American Dream and Promise Act is completely out in the open:

Conditional Permanent Residence

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 would lead to the creation of a “conditional permanent resident” status with a validity of up to 10 years. This status would prevent the Dreamers (including the recipients of DACA) from being deported, allowing them to legally work in the United States and to travel without the risk of being deported.

In order to qualify for the status of conditional permanent resident, a Dreamer would have to meet the following requirements.

  • Prove that they came to the United States before they turned 18 and have been living there on or before the 1st of January, 2021.
  • Are not inadmissible under the following grounds: criminal, smuggling, terrorism and security, persecution participation, international child abduction, polygamy, abuse of student visa, unlawful voting, or being a former citizen that renounced their status in order to avoid taxation.
  • Except for state offenses related to immigration, non-violent civil disobedience, marijuana-related offenses, and minor traffic offenses, Dreamers with the following offenses might not be eligible:
    • Federal or state felony that was punished with imprisonment by more than one year.
    • More than three distinct state or federal misdemeanor offenses, for which the offender received at least 90 days of imprisonment.
    • Crimes of domestic violence (unless the person is a victim)
  • Prove that they received a high school diploma, received its equivalent, or are currently in the process of earning that diploma.
  • Pass background and government security check, submit biographic and biometrics data and, if applicable, register for selective services.

Recipients may lose their legal status if they commit any of the above or fail to meet the bill requirements.

Legal Dreamers, meaning children under the age of 18 of parents working on a temporary work visa (E1, E2, H1B, and L2 visa) or were of that age when they moved into the United States with their parents, would be prevented from being deported from the U.S.

Lawful Permanent Residence

A dreamer that has obtained the status of “conditional permanent resident” can apply to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, as long as they meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • They have graduated from college or university or went through at least two years towards getting a bachelor’s degree.
  • Go through at least two years of military service (except those that have been dishonorably discharged).
  • Worked for at least a minimum of three years under a valid employment authorization, with at least 75% of time doing actual labor. The periods when they were enrolled in education without a valid work authorization would not be used against them.

Other Dreamer Provisions

The bill would also include other provisions that would impact Dreamers, including:

  • Streamlined procedures for DACA recipients that are looking to get a renewal for their status or an adjustment to their LPR status.
  • Allowing secretaries to waive certain inadmissibility bars when public interest is involved. This can also be for family unity purposes or humanitarian purposes.
  • Preventing the DHS from using the information offered in applications for purposes related to immigration enforcement.
  • Allowing eligible Dreamers that have been deported during Trump’s Administration to apply once more from abroad.
  • Giving Dreamers access to financial aid
  • Permission for undocumented students to receive in-state tuition based on state residency.

Protection for TPS Holders and DED Recipients

The bill allows TPS holders with a DED to adjust to a green card, as long as they check these requirements:

  • They have been living in the U.S. for at least 3 years before the enactment of the bill.
  • Can demonstrate they were eligible (or had) TPS on September 17th, 2017, or a DEED as of the 20th of January
  • They apply within 3 years of the enactment of the bill
  • They pay the required application fee

The bill can cancel undergoing deportation proceedings for individuals that are eligible for lawful permanent resident status.  

Other Provisions

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 prevents the DHS from deporting individuals that appear to be eligible for the protection coming from the bill or has a pending application. It also required that the person subject to deportation should be given a reasonable opportunity to apply.

This bill ought to allow people with a pending application to obtain employment authorization, as well as apply for advance parole.

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The Bottom Line

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 is a good thing. It would come to the aid of many people from within the United States that were unable to obtain their green card or citizenship, provided they meet the requirements.

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