Immigration Reforms in the Build Back Better Act

Last month, House Democrats passed the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), which contains immigration reforms—including protection from deportation and several pathways to legal permanent residency—that could impact millions of documented and undocumented foreign nationals.

One of the main parts of the bill’s immigration provisions allows qualified immigrants who have lived in the United States since January 2011 to apply for temporary work permits, deportation protection, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as permissions to travel outside the country under the “parole” process. According to the Congressional Budget Office analysis, nearly 60 percent of undocumented immigrants—or approximately 6.5 million people—would be eligible for the protections.

An estimated three million of those immigrants are immediate relatives of adult U.S. citizens, which gives them the ability to obtain a green card after being granted parole.

The following are other key immigration reform provisions in the BBBA:

  • Lawful permanent residence – The bill would update the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to allow documented and undocumented foreign nationals to apply for adjustment of status after paying a supplemental fee of $1,500 and undergo a background check and medical examination. DACA recipients (Dreamers), essential workers (such as farmworkers, healthcare, public works, manufacturing, energy, and transportation workers), Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) recipients.
  • Adjustment of status – The INA would allow family-based and employment-based applicants, along with their spouse and children, to apply immediately for adjustment of status after the main applicant pays a $1,500 supplemental fee and every derivative beneficiary pays a $250 fee. Additionally, a waiver from the annual and per-country limits will be created. Waivers for family-based applicants include a $2,500 supplemental fee. Waivers for employment-based applicants include a $5,000 supplemental fee. Waivers for immigration investor-based applicants include a $50,000 supplemental fee.
  • Recapture unused immigrant visas – The INA is updated to “recapture” hundreds of thousands of unused immigrant visas caused by the accumulation of applications and disruption of processing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The provision also includes available unused family-based and employment-based visas starting from the Fiscal Year 1992, as well as diversity visas since FY 2017.

The $1.85-trillion social spending bill heads to the Senate, but the measures could be stripped by the Senate parliamentarian before a decision is made. For legislation to get through the Senate, Democrats must use the “reconciliation” procedure that enables them to pass the bill with 50 votes and a tiebreaker vote from the vice president.

Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough will determine if the policies are directly related to the federal budget. So far, she has rejected the previous two attempts by the Democrats to add protections for immigrants to the bill.

If you are dealing with an immigration matter in Charlotte, NC, call the Law Office of Kelli Y. Allen, PLLC at (704) 870-0340 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a consultation.

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