Executive Order to Create Conditional Method for Long-Term Immigrant Spouses of U.S. Citizens to Obtain Work Permits

On Tuesday, June 18, the Biden Administration issued an executive order to create a method for long-term unauthorized immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens and can pass background checks to obtain work permits through an established process called parole in place. To avoid creating a pull factor for illegal immigration, the program will require applicants to have been continuously present in the United States for at least 10 years and have a legally valid marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024. The order will also seek to streamline processes for employers to sponsor work permits for DACA recipients and non-citizens who graduate from U.S. colleges. These policies are reportedly supported by 76% of U.S. Voters.

This administrative action comes amidst inflationary workforce shortages and the failure of Congress for years to pass bipartisan legislation to modernize the U.S. immigration system in a way that helps to meet the dynamic workforce needs of the economy. It will allow roughly 500,000 individuals who have been in the U.S. for an average of 23 years to get right with the law and work for employers who deduct and match taxes, ultimately increasing tax revenues without raising taxes.

It is a common misconception that unauthorized immigrants who marry U.S. Citizens have viable pathways to obtain legal status. Before this administrative action, those who entered the country illegally would have had to leave the U.S. and be subject to a 10 year bar from reentry before they could begin to apply for legal status.

Earlier this month, the Biden Administration also issued an executive order aimed at reducing chaos at the border by rejecting asylum claims of immigrants who cross the border between ports of entry and removing them immediately when total encounters between ports of entry pass a threshold of 2500 per day. The border will only reopen to process these claims when encounters drop below a threshold of 1500 per day.

More information on the executive order announced this week can be read below.

Fact Sheet: DHS Announces New Process to Promote the Unity and Stability of Families

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced actions to promote family unity in the immigration process, consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to keeping families together. This announcement utilizes existing authorities to promote family unity, but only Congress can fix our broken immigration system.

Under current law, noncitizens married to a U.S. citizen may apply for lawful permanent residence through their marriage to a U.S. citizen. However, to apply for lawful permanent residence, many noncitizens must first depart the United States and wait to be processed abroad, resulting in a prolonged, potentially indefinite, period of separation from their U.S. citizen family members and causing tremendous hardship to all concerned. Consequently, these families live in fear and face deep uncertainty about their future.

To address this challenge, DHS will establish a new process to consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests for certain noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens who have lived in the United States for 10 years or more; do not pose a threat to public safety or national security; are otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status; and merit a favorable exercise of discretion. If eligible, these noncitizens will be able to apply for lawful permanent residence without having to leave the United States. DHS estimates that approximately 500,000 noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens could be eligible to access this process; on average, these noncitizens have resided in the United States for 23 years. Approximately 50,000 children of these spouses also will be eligible for this process. Noncitizens who pose a threat to national security or public safety will not be eligible for this process, as aligned with our immigration enforcement priorities. If a noncitizen poses a threat to national security or public safety, DHS will detain, remove, or refer them to other federal agencies for further vetting, investigation, or prosecution as appropriate.

Today’s actions build on unprecedented steps by the Biden-Harris Administration to strengthen family unity including by implementing family reunification parole processes for nationals of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Ecuador; updating and modernizing the Cuban and Haitian family reunification parole processes; leading the Family Reunification Task Force to reunify nearly 800 children with their families who were separated; and establishing country-specific parole processes for certain nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela (CHNV) who have a U.S.-based supporter.

Eligibility and Process

To be considered on a case-by-case basis for this process, an individual must:

  • Be present in the United States without admission or parole;
  • Have been continuously present in the United States for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024; and
  • Have a legally valid marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.

In addition, individuals 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.

Noncitizen children of potential requestors may also be considered for parole under this process if they are physically present in the United States without admission or parole and have a qualifying stepchild relationship to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.

In order to be considered for parole, an individual will need to file a form with USCIS along with supporting documentation to show they meet the requirements and pay a fee. Further information regarding eligibility and the application process, including a notice in the Federal Register, will be published in the near term. USCIS will reject any filings or individual requests received before the date when the application period begins later this summer.

Upon receipt of a properly filed parole in place request USCIS will determine on a case-by-case basis whether a grant of parole is warranted and whether the applicant merits a favorable exercise of discretion. All requests will take into consideration the potential requestor’s previous immigration history, criminal history, the results of background checks and national security and public safety vetting, and any other relevant information available to or requested by USCIS. USCIS has strong processes in place to identify and address potential fraud, which will be applied here to ensure the integrity of this program.

Other Action

In addition, DHS will join the Department of State in an effort to more efficiently facilitate certain employment-based nonimmigrant visas for eligible individuals, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and undocumented noncitizens, who have graduated from an accredited U.S. institution of higher education. By clarifying and enhancing the existing process, the Department of State’s policy will give U.S. employers increased confidence that they can hire the talent they need, and that they will be able to quickly get to work. DHS will implement the Department of State’s policy update.


Texas Businesses and Faith Leaders, Immigration Advocates Urge Biden Administration and Lawmakers to Act on Immigration

Administrative Action Could Provide Work Permits for Long-Time Immigrant Spouses of U.S. Citizens


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