Biden’s new amnesty?

IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel - The Philippine Star

On June 18, 2024, President Biden announced a new program or process “to ensure that US citizens with noncitizen spouses and children can keep their families together.” This new process will help certain noncitizen spouses and children apply for lawful permanent residence without leaving the country.

My office has already been flooded with calls from anxious and hopeful clients, asking whether they are eligible under this new program or process. To be clear, this program is not yet in effect, so there is nothing to submit or apply for at the present time. It is not an “amnesty,” and not everyone is eligible. This process appears to benefit primarily those who entered the US without inspection (EWI) and is similar to the existing “parole in place” program for families of members of the military.

The basic eligibility requirements, as listed in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) fact sheet, are the applicant:

• Must be “present in the US without admission or parole,” which means the person entered the US without inspection or snuck across the border. If you entered the US on a visa, even under an assumed name, then you were “inspected” and may not be eligible for this particular program;

• Has been “continuously present in the United States for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024,” meaning they should have arrived in the US before June 17, 2014 and lived in the US continuously;

• Has a legally valid marriage to a US citizen as of June 17, 2024. If the marriage is bigamous because one of you did not terminate a prior marriage, the marriage may not be valid, or if the marriage took place after June 17, 2024, it would not qualify; and

• Must have no “disqualifying criminal history or otherwise constitute a threat to national security or public safety” and should otherwise merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

For stepchildren of United States citizens, they must also have been physically present in the United States without admission or parole and have had the relationship of stepchild as of June 17, 2024, meaning their parent should have married a US citizen while they were under 18 years of age and before June 17, 2024.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cautions that this program is not yet in effect and it will “reject any filings or individual requests received before the date when the application period begins later this summer.” Among the factors that will be taken into consideration in deciding whether to grant relief is the person’s previous immigration history, criminal history, the results of background checks and any other relevant information, as “USCIS has strong processes in place to identify and address potential fraud.”

As stated, this program or process is not yet in effect, and just like DAPA, there could be injunctions blocking its implementation. However, once this process goes into effect and you believe you are eligible, you should consult with an attorney who can evaluate your situation to make sure you are eligible, and the attorney can also assist you in applying for this immigration benefit.

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WEBSITE: www.gurfinkel.com

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Four offices to serve you: Los Angeles; San Francisco; New York: Toll free number: 1-866-GURFINKEL (1-866-487-3465); Philippines: +632 88940258 or +632 88940239

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