EIG Alert: Biden Administration’s New Visa Actions for Undocumented Spouses & Dreamers

Today, June 18, 2024, the Biden Administration announced two new actions to promote family unity and facilitate employment-based visas for certain eligible individuals, including Dreamers.

The new programs are the most ambitious and inclusive protections in over a decade since the Obama-Biden Administration introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program 12 years ago. While the programs are likely to be warmly received by immigration advocates and the business community, they are also expected to be met by legal action like many other immigration executive actions.

What We’re Reading:

Fact Sheet: President Biden Announces New Actions to Keep Families Together
White House, 6/18/2024

Fact Sheet: DHS Announces New Process to Promote the Unity and Stability of Families
Department of Homeland Security, 6/17/24

Featured Issue: New Actions to Promote Family Unity
American Immigration Lawyers Association, 6/18/24

Streamlining 212(d)(3) Waivers for DACA Recipients and Other Dreamers
Fwd.Us, 6/18/24

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to monitor developments and share updates as more news is available. Please contact your employer or EIG attorney if you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions.


Family Unity through Parole in Place

DHS will establish a new process to consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests for certain noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens:

  • who have lived in the United States for 10 years or more.

  • do not pose a threat to public safety or national security.

  • are otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status.

  • and merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

If eligible, these noncitizens will be able to apply for lawful permanent residence without leaving the United States.

Those who are approved after DHS’s case-by-case assessment of their application will be afforded a three-year period to apply for permanent residency. They will be allowed to remain with their families in the United States and be eligible for work authorization for up to three years. This will apply to all married couples who are eligible.

By the numbers:

  • DHS estimates that approximately 500,000 noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens could be eligible to access this process; on average, these noncitizens have resided in the United States for 23 years.

  • Approximately 50,000 children of these spouses also will be eligible for this process.

Go deeper: Under current law, noncitizens married to a U.S. citizen may apply for lawful permanent residence through their marriage to a U.S. citizen. However, to apply for lawful permanent residence, many noncitizens must first depart the United States and wait to be processed abroad, resulting in a prolonged, potentially indefinite, period of separation from their U.S. citizen family members and causing tremendous hardship to all concerned. Consequently, these families live in fear and face deep uncertainty about their future.

Eligibility and Process: Program Not Accepting Applications Yet

This program is expected to launch by the end of the summer after a Federal Register notice detailing the application process and other information is published. Applications submitted prior to the start date listed in the notice will be rejected.

As of June 18, DHS provided the following information:

To be considered on a case-by-case basis for this process, an individual must:

  • Be present in the United States without admission or parole;

  • Have been continuously present in the United States for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024; and

  • Have a legally valid marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.

In addition, individuals must have no disqualifying criminal history or otherwise constitute a threat to national security or public safety and should otherwise merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

Noncitizen children of potential requestors may also be considered for parole under this process if they are physically present in the United States without admission or parole and have a qualifying stepchild relationship with a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.

A Federal Register notice will be published soon that outlines the specific steps to be considered under this program. To be considered, an individual must file a form with USCIS along with supporting documentation to show they meet the requirements and pay a fee.

USCIS will reject any filings or individual requests received before the application period begins later this summer.

Employment-Based Visa for Eligible Individuals

Today’s announcement will allow individuals, including DACA recipients and other Dreamers, who have earned a degree at an accredited U.S. institution of higher education in the United States, and who have received an offer of employment from a U.S. employer in a field related to their degree, to more quickly receive work visas.

DHS will join the Department of State to more efficiently facilitate certain employment-based nonimmigrant visas for eligible individuals.

Today’s announcement did not include the details about the process or timing of this action.