Biden offers citizenship to spouses, children of American nationals

U.S. President Joe Biden discusses the 2022 U.S. midterm election results during a news conference in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2022. Photo: REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Washington: President Joe Biden on Tuesday issued a massive immigration relief to non-citizens offering a path to citizenship to the non-citizen spouses and children of American nationals, a move that will protect approximately half a million spouses of US citizens, several thousands of whom are Indian-Americans.

“This action will protect approximately half a million spouses of US citizens, and approximately 50,000 non-citizen children under the age of 21 whose parents are married to a US citizen,” the White House said.

Biden has directed the Department of Homeland Security to take action to ensure that US citizens with non-citizen spouses and children can keep their families together. This new process will help certain non-citizen spouses and children apply for lawful permanent residence - status that they are already eligible for - without leaving the country, the White House said.

These actions will promote family unity and strengthen our economy, providing a significant benefit to the country and helping US citizens and their noncitizen family members stay together, it added.

Biden has also directed to allow individuals including DACA recipients and other Dreamers, who have earned a degree at an accredited US institution of higher education in the United States, and who have received an offer of employment from a US employer in a field related to their degree, to more quickly receive work visas.

“Recognising that it is in our national interest to ensure that individuals who are educated in the US are able to use their skills and education to benefit our country, the Administration is taking action to facilitate the employment visa process for those who have graduated from college and have a high-skilled job offer, including DACA recipients and other Dreamers,” the White House said.

According to the White House, in order to be eligible, non-citizens must - as of June 17, 2024 - have resided in the United States for 10 or more years and be legally married to a US citizen, while satisfying all applicable legal requirements. On average, those who are eligible for this process have resided in the US for 23 years.

Those who are approved after DHS's case-by-case assessment of their application will be afforded a three-year period to apply for permanent residency. They will be allowed to remain with their families in the US and be eligible for work authorization for up to three years. This will apply to all married couples who are eligible.

According to the White House, this program will protect approximately half a million spouses of US citizens, and approximately 50,000 non-citizen children under the age of 21 whose parents are married to a US citizen.

More than 1.1 million undocumented spouses married to a US citizen, thousands of whom are Indian-Americans, have lived in the US on average 16 years, and many have been married to their US citizen spouses for at least a decade. The announcement is expected to impact approximately 500,000 undocumented spouses of US citizens and 50,000 undocumented children of US citizens nationwide.

Opposing the move, the rival Trump campaign said that Biden's mass amnesty plan will undoubtedly lead to a greater surge in migrant crime, cost taxpayers millions of dollars they cannot afford, overwhelm public services, and steal Social Security and Medicare benefits from American seniors to fund benefits for illegals draining the programs Americans paid into their entire working lives.

“Biden has created another invitation for illegal immigration through his mass amnesty order,” said Trump campaign National Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt.

US Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, applauded Biden's announcement to offer relief to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including DACA holders and undocumented spouses and children of US citizens.

“Allowing those who have lived here at least ten years a chance to continue living here without fear of deportation is fair and long overdue. The Republican Party and its chosen leader see immigration in terms of fear and hate and poisoning the blood' of America. President Biden understands that, as challenging as it may be, immigration is at the heart of who we are as Americans. I commend President Biden for today's announcement. It's the right thing,” said Durbin.

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