What is the U.S. Citizenship Act?

Updated on April 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, proposed by President Joe Biden, aims to roll back executive actions by former President Donald Trump and reform the immigration system.
  • It seeks to restore humanity, eliminate discrimination, and change the language used in immigration laws.
  • The bill offers pathways to citizenship for undocumented individuals, Dreamers, and TPS recipients, while updating family-based and humanitarian systems, restructuring employment-based immigration, and promoting economic growth.
  • The next steps involve navigating the legislative process and addressing criticisms to find common ground.

With President Biden now taking charge of the United States, a lot of things are expected to change or be added to the current laws. The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 is one of these things. It is related to the immigration area. If you want to know more about it, this article will focus on the Citizenship Act and what it involves.

What Is the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021?

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 has been proposed by Joe Biden. It is a legislative bill that was proposed on Joe Biden’s first day of presidency.

Its goal is to roll back multiple executive actions that former president Donald Trump is responsible for. As a result, there might be a better legislative path for people who want to seek immigration benefits in the U.S. Even undocumented immigrants are included in this act.

Why Is the U.S. Citizenship Act Being Enacted?

When the presidential campaign for Joe Biden was taking place, it wasn’t hard to notice that there was a lot of focus on immigration. So, the Biden Administration aimed to start working on it as soon as the new president was going into office. They promised that on the first day as president, Joe Biden will put together a big Bill with multiple immigration-related items. In the Bill, the promises made during the campaign were also included.

What President Joe Biden wanted was to undo what Donald Trump has done, while reforming the immigration system of the United States. Basically, he wants to make the immigration system more modern, while promoting family unity and making sure that the economy grows. On top of that, President Joe Biden and his administration want the U.S. to serve as shelter for those seeking refuge from dangerous countries. This is why the U.S. Citizenship Act is being enacted.

What Are the Purposes of the U.S. Citizenship Act?

Wondering what purposes the U.S. Citizenship Act serves? Here is what you need to know:

Resetting the Tone of the Immigration System

The new legislation is meant to make some big and important changes to the current immigration law. Basically, the new act states that it wants to restore humanity and American values to the immigration system of the country, thus improving it.

As most people know, Donald Trump and his administration tried their best to restrict immigration, and this affected a lot of people. Multiple executive orders and regulations were made in order to make immigration more restricted and allow fewer people to come into the U.S. People saw the discrimination in the executive orders and regulations, particularly after one of the earliest executive orders signed by Trump, respectively the “Muslim ban” as most people know it. With a separate presidential proclamation, this order was rescinded.

Therefore, the Biden administration wants to change things and prevent restrictions based on discrimination. What they want to do is stop and prohibit any sort of discrimination that is based on religion. Furthermore, they want to limit the presidential authority from making other such bans in the future.

Changing the language of the immigration laws and statutes is another goal of the proposed bill. Often, the term “alien” can be found in immigration laws, and it refers to noncitizens and foreign nationals. The new act proposes that this term is changed to “noncitizen” instead.

Overhauling the Immigration System and Pathways to Citizenship

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 is meant to reform different areas of the current immigration system of the United States. To be more specific, it is going to give more opportunities to those who are undocumented immigrants or have temporary status and seek citizenship. On top of that, it wants to make employment-based immigrant processes more efficient overall.

Pathways to Citizenship for the Undocumented Individuals, Dreamers, TPS Recipients

There is an eight-year pathway to citizenship for people with illegal status in the U.S. who were in the States physically on January 1, 2021. But what is important to keep in mind is that there are two phases for this pathway.

The first phase will offer temporary legal status for the illegal status citizens. After five years, the individual has the right to apply for permanent residency. Of course, there are some conditions too: the person has to pay taxes, clear background checks, and do other things.

As for the second phase, it would let people with green cards who pass extra background checks and prove knowledge of English and U.S. civics to apply for becoming U.S. citizens.

There are three groups of people that were at the immigration legislation forefront for the last few years. These are the Dreamers, TPS Recipients, and undocumented individuals. Under the new legislation, they will have the chance to qualify for permanent residency, which will be a huge benefit.

Updating the Family-Based and Humanitarian Systems

Another purpose of the new bill is to help clear backlogs, get rid of long wait times, increase the visa caps per-country, and recapture unused visas. This would help reform the family-based immigration system.

The new act seeks to get rid of the 3 and 10-year bars and prevent more families from being kept apart. Instead, the goal is to support families. This will happen by including permanent partnerships and making sure to get rid of any discrimination that LGBTQ+ families are facing.

And since there have been very lengthy backlogs for years when it comes to green card availability, the proposed bill would be able to reduce the wait times. As a result, people with approved family-sponsorship petitions would be able to join their family in the United States temporarily. They will wait for green card availability at the same time.

Not to mention that the bill also seeks to eliminate the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims. It wants to help by offering funds to reduce backlogs for asylum applications. Other than that, the legislation also wants to add more protection for T visa, U visa, and VAWA applicants. The cap on U visas would also be raised from 10,000 to 30,000 annually and reserved for crime victims.

Restructuring Employment-Based Immigration

Lastly, growing the economy of the U.S. is another purpose of the new bill. By recapturing unused visas, clearing employment-based visa logs, getting rid of the caps per-country, and reducing the long wait times, economic development would be increased. There will be more opportunities for H1B visa holder dependents as well, giving them the chance to get work authorization. It’s an expansion of the current H4 Employment Authorization Document.

What Are the Next Steps?

President Biden made the proposal for the immigration act, but we have to wait and see what’s going to happen. It might have to go through several steps first. Criticism was already given regarding the proposed bill. However, the president and the administration hope to push the legislation and meet some common ground too. More funds will also be given to increase border security as part of the common ground.

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If you are an immigrant, you may be interested in the new U.S. Citizenship Act enacted by President Biden and his administration. Keep an eye on the bill and see if things will work out in your favor, as there’s still a long road ahead.

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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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