President Biden Announces New Immigration Policies for DACA Recipients and Undocumented Immigrants

President Joe Biden has introduced a new immigration policy aimed at granting DACA recipients improved access to H-1B visas and other employment opportunities.

This policy change will streamline existing procedures and extend aid to undocumented immigrants who do not qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. as reported by Forbes.

The DACA program, established by President Obama in 2012, protects young individuals brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. However, a Texas District court ruling in September 2023 deemed DACA unlawful for new applicants but permitted current recipients to remain in the program.

With legislative action stalled in Congress, advocates have urged for administrative measures to protect DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants.

Two New Immigration Policies Unveiled

On June 18, 2024, President Biden revealed two significant immigration policies. The first policy opens a pathway to permanent residency for certain undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens.

“Eligible noncitizens must have resided in the U.S. for at least 10 years by June 17, 2024, and be legally married to a U.S. citizen, while meeting all other legal requirements,” stated the White House. “Typically, those eligible have lived in the U.S. for an average of 23 years.” according to CBS News.

This policy provides a three-year window to apply for a green card and includes work authorization during the application period. The Biden administration estimates this policy will protect about 500,000 spouses of U.S. citizens and approximately 50,000 children under 21, with applications processed individually by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The second policy mandates the State Department and DHS to facilitate H-1B and other employment-based temporary visas for DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants. Although DACA does not confer legal status, it offers protection from deportation. Additional details on these policies were provided during a White House background press call.

Challenges with the Current Policy for DACA Recipients

The existing process for DACA recipients and others needing a waiver to obtain temporary visas is problematic. Legal professionals, educators, and businesses hope the new policy will ease these challenges and create a clearer pathway to lawful employment status.

DACA recipients currently require a D-3 waiver to reenter the U.S. on an H-1B or other employment-based temporary visa. The D-3 waiver, under the Immigration and Nationality Act §212(d)(3), can excuse various grounds of inadmissibility, including unlawful presence.

Those in unlawful status for over a year face a ten-year reentry bar if they leave the country. An approved D-3 waiver removes this bar for temporary visa purposes, allowing Dreamers to apply for an H-1B visa at a consulate or port of entry and, if granted, enter the U.S. with valid nonimmigrant status and work authorization.