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Biden to allow over half a million noncitizens to apply for U.S. residency

A Border Patrol agent leading migrants to a transportation van for processing Associated Press/Photo by Gregory Bull

Biden to allow over half a million noncitizens to apply for U.S. residency

U.S. President Joe Biden plans to enact a policy allowing certain noncitizen spouses and children who have a U.S. citizen parent to apply for legal permanent residence without leaving the country. The order will ensure that U.S. citizens with noncitizen spouses and children can keep their families together, according to the White House.

How will this new policy work? Noncitizens who have lived in the United States for at least 10 years and are legally married to U.S. citizens are eligible. The White House said this policy will promote family unity and strengthen the economy.

Don’t noncitizens automatically get citizenship upon marriage? Noncitizens have the option of U.S. citizenship upon marrying an American. However, the noncitizen’s manner of entry into the country determines the naturalization process. A noncitizen seeking a green card who has illegally resided in the United States for less than six months would likely have to interview for their green card at a consulate outside of the country, according to Boundless Immigration Inc., a law firm focusing on immigration issues. Many illegally present non-citizens worry that once they leave the country, they may be barred from re-entering. Immigrants who spend more than a year in the United States illegally face up to a decade-long ban from the country, regardless of their marital status. Biden’s action would alleviate this concern.

Candidates approved by the Department of Homeland Security would receive three years to apply for permanent residency without having to leave the country. Applicants would also be eligible for work within the three-year window and remain with their families. About half a million spouses of U.S. citizens are eligible for the program, along with about 50,000 non-citizen children under the age of 21, the Biden administration said.

Biden also introduced another new policy on Tuesday to facilitate the visa process for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. Program recipients who have earned a degree from an accredited U.S. college and received a high-skill job offer in their degree field will receive work visas more quickly, according to the White House. It is in America’s best interest that individuals educated in the United States use that education to benefit the country, the Biden administration added. It’s a two-pronged immigration approach with humane rules, wrote White House Communication Director Ben LaBolt.

How are the policies being received? Biden’s new policy will allow Dreamers to work legally and keep families together, which is great news, wrote U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called the latest order unbelievable. First, Biden pitched a bogus executive order to reduce illegal immigration, and now he’s pardoning hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants already here, he wrote. CNN analyst Scott Jennings slammed the new policy, questioning why Biden didn’t do this on his first day in office if it was such a great idea. The reality is that Biden is governing by political panic, he added.

Dig deeper: Read Addie Offereins’ report unpacking Biden’s recent immigration crackdown.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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