DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
- For the first time since 2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now accepting first-time applications for DACA.
- Basic eligibility criteria is that you must be 15 years old or older, have come to the U.S. before turning 16, and came to the U.S. before June 15, 2007.
- Canal Alliance is now taking consultations for first-time DACA applicants. If you believe that you are eligible to apply for DACA and live, work, or study in Marin county, please FILL OUT THIS FORM: https://ww5.welcomeclient.com/nggate/intake/general/61741.
- If you have difficulty filling out the form, please call (415) 448-8679 and we will help you fill it out. This information is also available on the main page of our website (canalalliance.org).
UPDATES TO THE U.S. CITIZENSHIP TEST
You may have heard that the Trump Administration created a new, more challenging civics test as part of the citizenship process (called the “2020 version”). However, the Biden Administration announced that it will not be using this new test and will instead continue to use the older, less challenging version (the “2008 version”).
What does this mean for people currently applying for citizenship?
- If you applied for Naturalization before December 1, 2020, you will take the 2008 civics test.
- If you apply for Naturalization after March 1, 2021, you will take the 2008 civics test.
- If you applied for Naturalization between December 1, 2020 and March 1, 2021, AND your interview is before April 19, 2021, you can choose to take either the 2020 or the 2008 version of the civics test.
- If your interview is after April 19, 2021, you will take the 2008 version of the civics test.
- If in doubt, study for the 2008 version of the Civics Test.
We know that these changes may be confusing. If you have questions about which citizenship test to study for, please call our immigration line at (415) 306-0437.
On March 9, 2021, the Biden Administration formally stopped using the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule. This means that services such as MediCal, CalFresh (food stamps), and Public Housing, which counted towards the Public Charge Test, no longer affect a person’s immigration case when they are seeking permanent residence (a green card).
Some reminders about Public Charge:
- Public Charge only applies to people who are looking to apply for green cards.
- If you already have a green card, Public Charge rules do not apply to you.
- Public Charge rules also do not apply to people with asylum, VAWA, T Visas, or U Visas.
- Resources related to preventing and treating COVID-19 do not count towards Public Charge designation
VENEZUELAN TPS (Temporary Protected Status)
- Starting on March 9, 2021, Venezuelans living in the U.S. are eligible for Temporary Protected Status or TPS.
- Individuals with TPS are protected from deportation and can apply for temporary work permits.
- If you are Venezuelan, you can apply for this status starting today until September 9, 2021. Your status will be valid until September 9, 2022.
A BREAKDOWN OF THE BIDEN IMMIGRATION BILL
The United States Citizenship Act of 2021, known as the “Biden Immigration Bill,” came out in February 2021. This bill is NOT YET LAW. It still has to be passed through both chambers of Congress and may change significantly before it does. However, we want to highlights some parts of the bill that could be impactful to the Marin County immigrant community.
PATHWAY TO CITIZENSHIP FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS PRESENT IN THE U.S. ON JANUARY 1, 2021
- The bill proposes an 8-year pathway to citizenship for most individuals who were present and undocumented in the U.S. on January 1, 2021. This pathway would include 5 years’ conditional status and 3 years permanent residence, and would be an expedited path for DACA recipients, TPS recipients, and farmworkers who receive benefits through the Agricultural Workers Act.
- Individuals would have the ability to have a work permit during the application process.
FEWER CRIMINAL BARS TO IMMIGRATION
- Criminal barriers to immigration status would look different under the bill. For example: dismissed, vacated, deferred, and expunged convictions would no longer count as convictions for immigration purposes.
- The Biden Bill would also bring back an old provision of immigration law killed decades ago called “judicial recommendations against removal.” These allow a criminal court judge to declare that a person’s conviction should not provide grounds to deport them—with ICE allowed to weigh in.
- The bill would expand the definition of a “petty offense” that doesn’t provide grounds for deportation, expanding it to two offenses, not just one.
- The bill would restore a general waiver for most grounds of deportability and inadmissibility that would apply both in immigration court and for the adjudication of benefits. This would restore authority killed in 1996 by a “tough on crime” Congress.
END OF 3-YEAR, 10-YEAR, AND PERMANENT BARS TO RE-ENTRY
The bill would end the institution of 3-year, 10-year, and permanent bars to re-entry. This could provide relief to millions who would be able to leave the U.S. and return on a regular visa without penalty.
EXPANDED CAP ON U-VISAS, U-VISA ELIGIBLE CRIMES
President Biden has expanded the annual cap on U-Visas from 10,000 to 30,000, with labor violations now counting as qualifying crime. This would mean that those who have been the victims of labor violations would also be potentially eligible for U visas.
EXPANDED ELIGIBILITY FOR FAMILY-BASED IMMIGRATION
- New expansion of eligibility for “V visas” to any family-sponsored immigrants, allowing them to come to the U.S., rather than wait decades outside the U.S. for the visa to become available.
- Spouses and children of green card holders will be treated as immediate relatives, not subject to count.
INCREASED ACCESS TO ASYLUM
- The bill would end the 1-year bar to asylum, meaning that those who have been in the U.S. for over 1 year at the time of application are still eligible.
- Asylees could apply for green cards after 180 days, down from the current requirement of 365 days.
OTHER IMPORTANT PROPOSALS
- An end to discrimination on grounds of religion; limits President’s power to issue ‘travel bans.’
- Civil marriages would no longer be required for family-based immigration. Rather, USCIS would recognize “permanent partner” status.
- The government would have to provide the entire file to respondents, and could not deport anyone without doing so. Immigrant respondents would have the right to counsel hearings for expedited removal, bond, and detention.