The latest buzz regarding immigration reform and legalization has come in the form of the budget reconciliation bill. On September 13, 2021, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved legislation which would provide a path for legalization for approximately 8 million undocumented aliens along with new procedures that would fast-track adjustment of status for people in the United States.
On September 19, 2021, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled against the massive immigration efforts in the budget. For now, it looks like the proposed immigration cannot be included in the budget as is. Pro-Immigration members of Congress now are working to draft bills that could bring meaningful change to our immigration system. The original proposal gives us a glimpse of the immigration priorities which includes the following changes.
Family and Employment- Based Immigration: Supplemental Fee to Fast-Track Adjustment of Status (Green Cards)
Under the original legislation, the law would fast-track immigrants waiting for visa availability to adjust status to permanent residency. An employment-based immigrant application with a “priority date that is more than 2 years before” can adjust to permanent residence without numerical limits by payment of a “supplemental fee of $5,000.” The fee is $50,000 for the EB-5 category. This provision would expire in 2031.
Family-based immigrants with a “priority date that is more than 2 years before” can adjust to permanent residency without numerical limits by paying a “supplemental fee of $2,500.” In this proposal, immigrants that have been waiting for various categories such as unmarried son and daughter of a permanent resident (F-2B) or U.S. citizen (F-1), married son and daughter of a U.S. citizen (F-3) and sibling petitions (F-4) should be able to adjust status in the United States without having to wait the tediously long priority dates which sometimes spans over decades. It remains to be determined how the government would treat overstays/status-violations/persons who entered without inspection.
Dreamers (DACA): Undocumented Immigrants That Entered the United States Prior to Age 18
The proposal also creates a path to permanent residence for individuals that came to the United States prior to age 18 and have physically been present in the U.S. since January 1, 2021. This would essentially cover all DACA recipients plus additional persons that are unlawful in the United States. The proposed supplemental fee is $1,500.
Temporary Protective Status and Deferred Enforcement Departure
Besides the legalization of DACA recipients, the provision also allows for people that are currently in Temporary Protective Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure to be eligible for legalization. All applications would be subject to security and law enforcement background check. The proposed supplemental fee is $1,500.
This proposal also creates a path of permanent residency to essential workers such as: medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, and law enforcement. The process would be similar to an employment-based immigration process but could bypass the Labor Certification process which requires proof that there are no available U.S. Citizens or lawful permanent residents in the United States to do the job.
Naturally, since the bill has been proposed, there has been an extraordinary amount of interest from the immigrant community. Many people have approached us about applying for this “amnesty.” We want to caution everyone that these reports are proposals. For bills to become laws, it must be passed by the House of Representatives, the Senate and then signed into law by the President of the United States. Proposals are not actionable laws. There is nothing new at this time and nothing to hire someone to do for you in response to these proposals.
We have also been approached persons with valid paths to permanent residency under the existing laws, seeking to apply for this “amnesty” Most immigrants read and interpret “amnesty” as the easy path to legalization while they have clear paths including adjustment of status and eligibility for consular processing with an I-601A waiver. We encourage people to consult with an immigration professional to assess each and every case so that you do not miss out on an opportunity to legalize under existing law.
As the September 19, 2021 ruling in the Senate shows, these proposals are all just starting points in the broader debate of meaningful immigration reform. After this ruling, the proposal “as is” has been ruled ineligible to be included in the budget reconciliation bill. However, we are hopeful for change and even policies that can help many people to achieve their immigration endeavors.
If you have any questions regarding your immigration situation, please contact us for a free consultation. Wilner and O’Reilly’s lawyers have years of experience dedicated to immigration law. We have former immigration officials and board-certified specialists, so we offer extensive experience and knowledge to help you with the most complicated immigration cases.
At Wilner & O’Reilly, APLC, we offer free initial telephonic or virtual consultations so you can consult with us in the comfort of your home.
We also offer free consultations and have offices in Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, and San Francisco, California; Salt Lake City and Orem, Utah; and Boise, Idaho.
CHIEN-YU (MICHAEL) WANG – Managing Attorney – Sacramento
Chien-Yu (Michael) Wang is the Managing Attorney at Wilner and O’Reilly’s Sacramento office. He handles both family and business based immigration matters along with removal defense. Mr. Wang is admitted to the State Bar of California and the U.S. District Court for the Central and Eastern Districts of California. He is a member of the Los Angeles Country Bar Association, the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association, the Sacramento County Bar Association and the Asian-Pacific Bar Association of Sacramento.
Committed to public interest, Mr. Wang volunteers his time at many community based pro-bono legal clinics. As an immigrant from Taiwan, he has gained valuable personal experience with the immigration system in the United States. Mr. Wang is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and conversant in Japanese.
RICHARD M. WILNER – FOUNDING PARTNER
Richard M. Wilner is a founding member of Wilner & O’Reilly, APLC, and is Board Certified by the State Bar of California as a Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law. He is admitted to practice law in the State of California and before the U.S. District Courts for the Central, Northern and Southern Districts of California, the Northern District of Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.Mr. Wilner has received the coveted Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, the highest legal and ethical rating that one can receive from one’s peers in the legal community. Similarly, he has been awarded the title of Super Lawyer from 2007 to the present. He is best known for his work in advising Fortune 500 companies, middle and small market businesses, entrepreneurs, and foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in athletics, arts, and sciences in the complex area of U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law.