A Path for Dreamers and Other Immigrants to Obtain Their Green Cards
The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021
The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 presents a new path to citizenship for young people who have been brought to the U.S. as recently proposed by members of Congress in March 2021. This Act would allow “Dreamers,” and individuals with Temporary Protected Status an opportunity to obtain a green card. The Bill calls it, “permanent resident status conditionally for certain long-term residents who entered the U.S. as children.”¹
The law also provides benefits for the children of those who apply in its current form. It allows anyone who “is the son or daughter of an applicant as a nonimmigrant”² under the E-1, E-2, H-1B, and L-1 temporary work visa programs.
Who Is Qualified?
The following are requirements in order to be eligible to apply for this Act. Applicants:
- Have been continuously physically present in the U.S. since 1/1/2021;
- Were under 18 years of age or younger on the date in which they entered the U.S. and have continuously resided in the U.S. since their entry;
- Graduated from a U.S. high school or is enrolled in a U.S. high school or college. Note that it is sufficient if the applicant is currently enrolled in a GED course, obtaining a high school diploma, and/or obtaining a post-secondary credential;
- Are not inadmissible on certain grounds like applicants do not have communicable diseases, have not persecuted others; or not a national security threat; and
- Pay the fee that shall not exceed $495.³
For applicants who have already acquired DACA, there are special procedures that create a bit of ease for those interested in this adjustment of status. If you have DACA and meet the requirements for renewal such as not being inadmissible, then you can apply for adjustment of status on a conditional basis.
Documentation Needed to Apply
Specific documentation must be provided by the applicant in order to move forward with the process of adjustment of status. These include, in part:
- Identity documents such as an applicant’s passport from the applicant’s country of origin, birth certificate, school ID card and school records showing the applicant’s name and enrollment
- Documents establishing entry, continuous physical presence, and lack of abandonment of residence;
To establish that the applicant was 18 years of age or younger on the date on which the applicant entered the U.S., and has continuously resided in the U.S. since such entry, the applicant may submit: passport entries, school records, employment records, hospital records, rent receipts, utility bills, and other evidence.
- Documents establishing admission to an institution of higher education; and
To establish that the applicant satisfied the educational requirements, applicants can submit a document stating that the applicant has been admitted to the institution; or is currently enrolled in the institution as a student.
- Similarly, if the applicant already graduated from high school, then the applicant can submit the high school diploma.⁴
The terms of permanent residency status are based on a conditional basis; this conditional status is valid for 10 years unless such period is extended by USCIS.
However, it is possible for USCIS to remove this conditional basis if the applicant:
- Has not abandoned residence in the U.S. during the period in which the applicant has permanent resident status on a conditional basis;
- Obtained a degree of an institution of higher education or has completed at least 2 years, in good standing, of a program leading to a bachelor’s degree; and
- Shows earned income for periods totaling at least three years and at least 75 percent of the time the applicant has had a valid employment authorization, with some exceptions.⁵
Confidentiality and the Act
There are privacy protections provided by the American Dream and Promise Act. This bill states that USCIS may not disclose or use information about the applicant under this bill or in requests for DACA for purposes of immigration enforcement.⁶ Some people did not apply for DACA before because they were afraid that USCIS may share their information with ICE, so this provision of the bill prevents USCIS from sharing such information. Furthermore, USCIS may not refer an applicant to ICE according to this bill, unless, for example, there are concerns such as national security concerns. This most definitely adds a sense of security for those who are seeking a change in green card status, but are worried of the lingering possibility that their personal information places them in danger of immigration enforcement.⁷
The Act can make a maximum of 4,438,000 DREAMers (i.e., DACA recipients), individuals eligible for Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure, and legal DREAMers (i.e., children of certain visa holders) eligible for permanent residence in its current form.⁸ In President Joe Biden’s statement of support on the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, he details his urge to begin reforming the U.S. immigration system, starting with this Act.⁹ This Act primarily prioritizes young people who entered here through no fault of their own since they were brought here by their parents when they were children. This Act allows them to obtain residency in a country in which they spent most of their lives. Passage of this Act would be a dream come true for these young people and their families.
Contributor: Katia Price
Bibliography (Bluebook Method)
- Statement of Administration Policy, Whitehouse.gov (2021), https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/HR-6-SAP.pdf (last visited Mar 28, 2021).
- American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, 117th Cong. § 102 (2021).
- American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: Who Is Potentially Eligible?, migrationpolicy.org (2021), https://www.migrationpolicy.org/content/american-dream-and-promise-act-2021-eligibility (last visited Mar 25, 2021).
- Statement by President Biden on the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, The White House (2021), https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/18/statement-by-president-biden-on-the-american-dream-and-promise-act-of-2021/ (last visited Mar 25, 2021).