By now, you’ve probably heard of the Build Back Better Act — a sweeping $1.75 trillion spending plan focused on transforming the nation’s social safety net. If passed, the bill could establish universal pre-kindergarten, boost the supply of affordable housing, lower healthcare costs and allocate funds to combat climate change. Its passage could also usher in some much-needed immigration reforms.
To be an immigrant in the U.S. is to build a life on uncertainty. Undocumented immigrants have no way of knowing whether they will ever be granted citizenship, green cards or work permits, despite how long they’ve lived in the U.S. The Build Back Better Act wants to change that. Keep reading to learn how passing this bill would affect immigrant families.
Regardless of whether the Build Back Better Act passes, you can find help at Gonzalez Dollar Law, LLC. A trusted immigration attorney in Alabama, Mr. Gonzalez Dollar is dedicated to fighting for immigrant rights. Ready to get started? Call us at (256) 272-9565 today.
1. Work Permits for Long-Term Residents
Everyone needs food, shelter and basic necessities, and earning the money to pay for them requires employment. Although many immigrants would rather work legally, they often struggle to secure work permits. Immigrants, regardless of financial standing, are required to pay a $485 ($495) application fee and then must wait an average 150 to 210 days for it to be processed. Applications can be rejected for a variety of reasons, leaving applicants with limited options for survival.
In 2017, about 7.6 million immigrant laborers were working in the U.S. illegally. Working in the U.S. without a permit is dangerous and can result in deportation. Passage of Build Back Better could lower this number by allowing eligible long-term immigrants to receive a temporary legal status known as “parole,” under [Section 60001] of the bill.
To be considered eligible, applicants must only prove they’ve continuously lived in the U.S. since January 1st, . The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 6.5 million immigrants would receive parole, 3 million of whom will likely be granted permanent residency. If passed in its current iteration, the Build Back Better Act would affect work permits in a number of ways, including the following:
- Paroles would receive legal status and work authorization for as long as the program remained in effect.
- Paroles would be allowed to apply for state driver’s licenses.
- Spouses, parents or minor children of U.S. citizens could immediately adjust to legal permanent residence after receiving parole.
2. Less Green Card Waste
The U.S. makes a certain number of family-based and employment-based green cards each fiscal year, but not all of them get dispersed. If the government fails to disperse all of the family-based green cards allotted for any fiscal year, they are added to the following year’s employment-based green card cap. However, if they’re not used in the following year, they’re simply thrown away. In the 2021 fiscal year (October 2020‐September 2021), the U.S. government wasted about 400,000 visa and refugee cap slots as a result of slow processing.
Annual green card waste leaves many immigrants in limbo, waiting to know whether or not they will receive legal status. However, passage of the Build Back Better Act could change that. Under Section 60002 of the bill, any unused EB would be automatically added to the FB cap of 226,000. This would prevent large green card waste from occurring in any future year.
Section 60002 would also allow the government to “recapture” unused family-based, employment-based and Diversity Visa Lottery green cards. Any unused green cards in these categories would be added to subsequent totals, remaining available until they are all used.
3. Early Filing for Adjustment of Status Application
Currently, immigrants can’t file to adjust to permanent residence status if the State Department projects that the existing pool of applicants will fill the green card limits. Under Section 60003 of the Build Back Better Act, the government would allow immigrants to file adjustment of status green card applications, regardless of green card limits. However, applicants would have to pay $1,500 plus $250 for each spouse or minor child in order to take advantage of early filing.
This provision would benefit the roughly 850,000 employment-based immigrants in the green card backlog by providing them with employment authorization documents. These documents would allow immigrants who are already working to work in a similar job and leave their sponsoring employers for higher paying jobs or to take promotions. This provision could also benefit many family-based applicants, allowing them to work and travel under a quasi-legal status while their application continues.
Will the Build Back Better Act Pass?
Despite fierce opposition from Republican lawmakers, the Build Back Better Act passed in the House on November 19th, 2021. It currently sits in the Senate, where political experts say it is unlikely to pass in its current form. The Senate will vote on the bill in early 2022. Even if the Build Back Better Act passes the Senate, its policies will take time to implement, and in the meantime, immigrants will be forced to wait for legal status.
Here’s the good news: With help from a skilled Alabama immigration attorney, immigrant families can start applying for work permits and green cards now. Mr. Gonzalez Dollar, founding attorney at Gonzalez Dollar Law, LLC, can provide immigrants in the Florence, Russellville and surrounding areas with the following legal services:
- Immigration Defense. If you’re facing deportation, an experienced immigration attorney may be able to help you form a legal strategy that allows you to continue your life in Alabama. Common defenses include criminal waivers, filing for adjustment of status or temporary protected status, requesting prosecutorial discretion and motions to suppress or terminate.
- Work Permits. The work permit application, USCIS Form I-765, is a complicated form, and filling it out incorrectly can hurt your chances of approval. Your immigration attorney at Gonzalez Dollar Law, LLC, can help you with every aspect of the application process.
- Green Cards. If you want to live and work in the U.S., as well as travel in and out of the country, you need a green card. However, the application process is often long and complicated. An immigration attorney from Gonzalez Dollar Law, LLC, can help.
- Naturalization. For most immigrants, the end goal is to become a U.S. citizen. If you’re ready to start the long journey toward naturalization, you’ll need an expert immigration attorney to guide you down the right path.
Contact an Alabama Immigration Attorney
Immigrants are some of the bravest, hardest working people in our country, and they deserve a path to citizenship. Although bills like the Build Back Better Act can help immigrants gain legal status, they take time to implement — time that immigrants don’t always have. If you’re an immigrant seeking legal status, you don’t have to wait for the laws to change to seek help. Contact Gonzalez Dollar Law, LLC, to get started today.