President Biden’s 8 Year Path to Citizenship

Updated on April 8, 2024

At a Glance

  • The 8-Year Path to Citizenship is an immigration bill introduced by President Joe Biden.
  • It aims to provide a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the US starting from January 1st.
  • The bill offers an opportunity for eligible individuals to obtain legal status (green card) after five years and pursue full citizenship within eight years, as long as they meet requirements and pass background checks.
  • The bill seeks to reverse the restrictive immigration actions of the previous administration and benefit groups such as Dreamers and agricultural workers.

When you go to the United States with the purpose of building a life there, becoming a citizen is not something that you can do with the snap of your fingers. It would take a few years until you can receive actual citizenship – during which time, you need to remain there as a permanent resident. For some people, it might be two years, for others five or more.

It all depends on your status, as well as your origin and many other circumstances. Under the immigration policies of Trump, getting your citizenship often proved quite difficult. People without legal permanent status would wait for an opportunity, without too much success.

That being said, under President Joe Biden, things are beginning to shift as he revealed his 8-year path to citizenship bill – making an addition to the 2021 visa bulletin. How does it change the current citizenship status of the immigrants in the United States, and who would benefit the most from it? Read on and find out.

What Is the “8-Year Path to Citizenship”?

The 8-Year Path to Citizenship is an immigration bill expected to run about hundreds of pages, present at the beginning of President Joe Biden’s administration. Even as a candidate, Biden saw Trump’s anti-immigration actions as an “unrelenting assault on the values of the United States.” He claimed that with this bill, he would “undo Trump’s damage” while keeping the border enforcement strong.

As it still attempts to discourage a bigger surge of immigrants from the US-Mexican border, this bill targets those that have already been residing in the U.S. starting with January 1st. As the name suggests, it offers the opportunity for people that moved to the U.S. to obtain their citizenship over the next 8 years upon arrival.

With that in mind, while some limits were placed to avoid mass immigration, the bill also applies to those living in the U.S. as of the 1st of January. Under this legislation, immigrants would receive a five-year legal status (green card), as long as they have a clear background, pay their taxes, and clear the other basic requirements.

From that point on, they will have 3 more years on their path to naturalization, if they decide to pursue citizenship. Put together, in 8 years, even someone without legal status should be able to obtain citizenship. There will be background checks and requirements to meet – but as long as they do not prove to be a threat to the border or the security of the United States, immigrants should be able to obtain their full citizenship in 8 years.

How Does It Differ from the Current Path to Citizenship

The current path to citizenship is particularly difficult to go on – and if you cannot obtain legal status through employment or marriage, it often proves to be a long journey. People would end up staying for 10 years or more, without means of obtaining citizenship status.

This is because while it was possible to obtain citizenship if you were there by legal status (for example, if you married into the visa or worked long enough legally in the country), it was near impossible to do that if you remained illegally in the country. Anyone who was found to stay illegally in the United States was deported, no matter if their whole family was staying legally there.

The immigration laws under the former president Donald Trump were perceived by Biden and his administration to be rather harsh. With that in mind, with this bill, Biden is attempting to reverse the immigration actions of Trump and make it easier for immigrants to obtain their citizenship. The full specifics of the bill have yet to be revealed, but one point claims to remove the prohibitions on people coming from Muslim territories.

With the current path to citizenship, deportation would always be a concern. Since getting citizenship was rather difficult, people who could not maintain legal stay in the United States would be deported. With that in mind, Biden criticized aggressive deportation and gave way to the 8-year path to citizenship – a bill that makes it easier for certain categories of people to obtain citizenship.

Who Will Benefit from the New 8-Year Path to Citizenship

The full extent of the bill is yet to be analyzed, but overall, any immigrant living in the United States by and starting from January 1st should be able to enter the run for the 8-year path to citizenship. With that in mind, this campaign is oriented towards Latino voters, as well as other minorities that were previously oppressed by President Trump’s mass deportation and restrictive policies.

In other words, it is aimed at those who would not have such an easy time obtaining their citizenship. For many immigrants, it is said to make the process quicker. It is beneficial for the so-called “Dreamers” – the young population that arrived illegally in the United States when they were younger and were unable to obtain citizenship.

It is also beneficial for agricultural workers, as well as other people that were under protective status. These people could qualify for a green card as long as they were under employment, underwent education, or met the other requirements. Millions of people living in the United States under these illegal circumstances could have the tables turned in their favor.

Republican Oppositions

Considering that this brought so many changes in the way that green cards and citizenships were given, Joe Biden’s 8-Year Path to Citizenship was met with a lot of opposition. Many people from the republican side do not completely agree with Joe Biden’s new campaign.

The claim is that giving mass amnesty without any safeguards or strings attached is not the proper way to start a presidency. While people do find some of the bill’s aspects to be convenient and maybe even fruitful to the United States, the claim is that “a complete amnesty blanket for those who are in the United States against the law shouldn’t be something acceptable.”

The Republican opposition claims that this new campaign has many flaws, no enforcement, and zero regard for the security or health of American citizens. Proposals given in the past would focus on “turning off the faucet” and “attempting to mop the overflow,” but the 8-year path to citizenship would just “keep the faucet going.”

The concern is that this will lead to a massive flow of immigrants – something that was seemingly kept under control by the Trump administration. The extension of the H1B green card entry ban kept things under a lid, preventing the flow of immigrants.

What Happens Next?

We have yet to see what happens next or if this immigration bill will come to pass. The Democrats hold a slight majority within the Congress. Still, in order for this proposal to pass, it will still need to obtain votes from the Republicans in the Congress. If the bill passes, it could mark a significant starting point in Biden’s presidency.

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The Bottom Line

In the end, this legislation only starts Biden’s efforts of change. With so many opinions going for and against the bill, we should receive later on information on whether the new law of immigration has been accepted or not.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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