Important Immigration Law Changes in House’s Build Back Better Act

The House’s Build Back Better Act (BBBA) supported by President Biden and congressional Democrats is headed to the senate with major immigration reform provisions. The BBBA includes some key changes that you should know about.

Section 60001 of the BBBA includes language that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to permit foreign nationals — documented and undocumented — to apply for adjustment of status after payment of a supplemental fee of $1,500 and completing a background check with a medical exam.

Dreamers, essential workers (including farmworkers, healthcare, energy, public works, and manufacturing workers), Temporary Protected Status holders, and Deferred Enforcement Departure recipients would qualify for permanent residency.

The provision includes separate eligibility and physical presence requirements for each of the above-named groups. Each group would be subject to grounds for inadmissibility, some of which may be waived for limited humanitarian, family unity, or public interest purposes.

Section 60002 of the BBBA amends the INA to “recapture” unused immigrant visas. The waiting list for green cards is currently well into the millions. An annual ceiling governing the number of green cards available for employment-based and family preference immigrants compounds the enormous backlog. The accumulation of applicants, as well as disruption of processing caused by the pandemic, has resulted in hundreds of thousands of unused green card slots. Section 60002 would stipulate the available visa numbers will include unused visas from 1992 and forward.

Section 60003 revises the filing requirements for adjustment of status applications in both family-based and employment-based applications. The proposed Section 245(n) of the INA would permit family-based and employment-based applicants (and any spouses and children of those applicants) to apply immediately for adjustment of status for a fee of $1,500 for the principal applicant and $250 for each derivative beneficiary.

Section 60003 would also create a waiver from the annual and per-country family-based and employment-based immigrant visa numerical limitations for individuals who (1) have filed adjustment of status applications and (2) have a priority date that is at least two years before the date of application for a waiver of the per-country numerical limitations.

Section 60004 establishes additional supplemental fees for immigrant visa petitions, including a $100 supplemental fee for family-based immigrant visa petitions for: (1) married and unmarried sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, and (2) spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents; A supplemental $800 fee for EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 immigrant visa petitions for employment-based petitions; and a $15,000 supplemental fee for immigrant investor-based petitions.

Section 60005 would appropriate an additional $2.8 billion to USCIS “for the purpose of increasing capacity of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to effectively adjudicate applications described in sections 245B and 245(n) of the Immigration Nationality Act, as added by sections 60001 and 60003 of this Act, respectively, and to reduce case processing backlogs.”

Source: JD Supora; Jose Luna and Kristopher Peters, Jackson Lewis P.C.