• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

News

Biden eases citizenship path for non-citizen family members

This move will provide a path to citizenship for approximately half a million spouses of US citizens, including several thousand Indian-Americans.

Biden has instructed the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that US citizens with non-citizen spouses and children can maintain family unity. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a significant immigration relief measure for non-citizen spouses and children of American citizens.

This move will provide a path to citizenship for approximately half a million spouses of US citizens, including several thousand Indian-Americans.

“This action will protect approximately half a million spouses of US citizens and approximately 50,000 non-citizen children under the age of 21 whose parents are married to a US citizen,” stated the White House.

Biden has instructed the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that US citizens with non-citizen spouses and children can maintain family unity. This new process allows eligible non-citizen spouses and children to apply for lawful permanent residence without leaving the country, according to the White House.

The White House explained that these actions will promote family unity and strengthen the economy, benefiting both the country and US citizens with non-citizen family members.

Additionally, Biden has directed that DACA recipients and other Dreamers who have earned a degree from an accredited US institution and have a job offer from a US employer in their field can more quickly receive work visas.

“Recognising that it is in our national interest to ensure that individuals educated in the US can use their skills to benefit our country, the administration is facilitating the employment visa process for college graduates with high-skilled job offers, including DACA recipients and other Dreamers,” the White House said.

To be eligible, non-citizens must have resided in the US for 10 or more years as of 17 June 2024, and be legally married to a US citizen, meeting all legal requirements. On average, eligible individuals have resided in the US for 23 years.

Approved applicants, after a case-by-case assessment by DHS, will be given a three-year period to apply for permanent residency, during which they can remain in the US with work authorisation. This applies to all eligible married couples.

This programme aims to protect approximately half a million spouses of US citizens and around 50,000 non-citizen children under 21 whose parents are married to a US citizen.

More than 1.1 million undocumented spouses married to US citizens, including thousands of Indian-Americans, have lived in the US for an average of 16 years, with many married to their US citizen spouses for at least a decade.

The announcement is expected to impact around 500,000 undocumented spouses of US citizens and 50,000 undocumented children of US citizens nationwide.

The Trump campaign opposed the move, stating that Biden’s amnesty plan will increase migrant crime, cost taxpayers millions, overwhelm public services, and divert Social Security and Medicare benefits from American seniors to fund benefits for undocumented immigrants.

“Biden has created another invitation for illegal immigration through his mass amnesty order,” said Trump campaign national press secretary Karoline Leavitt.

US Senate majority whip Dick Durbin, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised Biden’s announcement to offer relief to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including DACA holders and undocumented spouses and children of US citizens.

“Allowing those who have lived here at least ten years a chance to continue living here without fear of deportation is fair and long overdue. The Republican Party sees immigration in terms of fear and hate. President Biden understands that immigration is at the heart of who we are as Americans. I commend President Biden for today’s announcement. It’s the right thing,” said Durbin.

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