On March 3, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (H.R. 6) was introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill would offer a pathway to citizenship not only to the undocumented, but also to thousands of children of parents who came to the U.S. with certain types of temporary working visas, many of whom “aged-out” before they could get green cards.
On March 18, 2021, the Dream and Promise Act of 2021 was approved by the House of Representatives.
In the past, only persons who were inadmissible or deportable, or those with Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure, could benefit under the Dream Act. Children who came lawfully to the U.S. with a parent or parents with working visas were not qualified even though their parents followed all the rules and waited in line for years to get green cards.
Thousands of these children have turned 21 years of age while waiting for their priority dates to become current. Some changed their status to F-1 student. Others dropped out of legal status while waiting in line or have left the country.
The Dream and Promise Act would create a pathway to citizenship for these persons. Included would be sons and daughters of H-1B professionals, L-1 executives, managers and those with specialized knowledge, E-1 treaty traders and E-2 treaty investors.
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Unfortunately, the Dream and Promise Act does not create a path to citizenship for children of parents with other types of temporary working visas, but the bill could be amended in order to do so.
Dream and Promise Act – How Legal Dreamers Can Qualify
Children of parents with the temporary work visas listed above can qualify for a path to citizenship under the Dream and Promise Act if they meet the following requirements:
- They have been continuously present in the U.S. since January 1, 2021;
- They were under the age of 18 when they first came to the U.S. and have been continuously present since then. (The bill allows for travel abroad authorized by the DHS, and travel abroad of up to 90 days at a time and 180 days cumulatively.);
- They graduated from high school, have a GED or are enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S.;
- They have not been convicted of certain crimes. Expunged convictions can not be used against them. They may be able to apply for waivers of certain misdemeanor convictions.
Also, the Dream and Promise Act would allow children who were forced to leave the U.S. because they aged-out to apply for green cards at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad if they had been physically present in the U.S. for a minimum of 4 years and left the country on or after January 20, 2017.
It should be noted that the bill does not require that the person’s parent currently be in H-1B, L-1, E-1 or E-2 status in order to qualify for benefits. The parents could now be green card holders or U.S. citizens. They could have left the U.S.
What Are the Chances of the Bill Becoming Law?
In order for the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 to become law, it must be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and signed into law by the President.
Since prior versions of the Dream Act have been introduced in every session of Congress since 2001, there are plenty of reasons to doubt whether the present bill will become law.
However, expanding the reach of the bill to include legal immigrants may increase support for the bill.
In 2017, dozens of Republican Members of the House of Representatives signed on to the Recognizing America’s Children Act which would have allowed children of E-2 investors to apply for green cards.
Given huge waiting times caused by outdated per-country quotas in some of the employment-based categories, it is only fair that the American Dream and Promise Act provide relief to children from families who followed the law.