DHS Grants Deportation Protection & Work Permits to US Citizen Spouses

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In a significant step towards addressing ongoing immigration issues, President Biden has announced new measures aimed at keeping families together and facilitating the immigration process for skilled workers, including DACA recipients. Importantly, this DHS announcement entails deportation protection and work permits for undocumented spouses of US citizens. Read on to learn more.

What Changes Did DHS Announce?

The DHS has introduced a new process allowing certain noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens to apply for lawful permanent residence without leaving the United States. This is a substantial shift from the existing requirement that many noncitizens must first depart the U.S. to process their applications abroad, as this prolonged separation often causes immense hardship and uncertainty for these families.

Who Is Eligible for This New Process?

To be considered under the new DHS process, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Physical Presence: The individual must be currently residing in the U.S. without having been formally admitted or paroled.
  • Continuous Residence: The applicant must have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least ten years as of June 17, 2024.
  • Marital Status: The applicant must be legally married to a U.S. citizen by June 17, 2024.
  • Security and Safety: The individual must have no criminal record and pose no threat to national security or public safety.
  • Discretionary Merit: The applicant must demonstrate that they deserve a favorable exercise of discretion.

It is estimated that around 500,000 noncitizen spouses and 50,000 of their children could be eligible under this new procedure.

How Can Eligible Individuals Apply?

Eligible applicants will need to submit a form to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), accompanied by supporting documentation and a fee. The application window will open later this summer, and detailed instructions will be provided soon. It is crucial to avoid submitting applications before the official start date, as USCIS will not accept early submissions.

Upon receiving a complete application, USCIS will evaluate each case individually, considering factors such as the applicant’s immigration history, criminal record, and national security check results. USCIS has stringent measures in place to detect and prevent fraud, ensuring the integrity of this new program.

What About Noncitizen Children?

Noncitizen children of potential applicants can also be considered for parole under this process if they are physically present in the U.S. and have a qualifying stepchild relationship to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024. They must meet similar eligibility requirements to their parents.

New Visa Processes for Skilled Workers and DACA Recipients

Alongside initiatives to maintain family unity, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State will simplify the application process for specific employment-based nonimmigrant visas. This effort encompasses making it easier for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and undocumented noncitizens who have graduated from recognized U.S. colleges and universities to obtain visas. The objective of this policy revision is to give U.S. employers more certainty in employing skilled workers, allowing them to start their jobs without delay.

For immigrants and their families, understanding these new policies and eligibility criteria is crucial. Seeking legal advice and staying informed about further developments can these individuals best adapt to these changes and take advantage of the opportunities presented by these new measures.