The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced new actions aimed at promoting family unity in line with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to keeping families together. While this initiative leverages existing authorities to support family unity, comprehensive reform of the immigration system remains a task for Congress.

New Process for Noncitizen Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Under current law, noncitizens married to U.S. citizens can apply for lawful permanent residence. However, many must leave the U.S. to complete this process, leading to prolonged separations and significant hardships for families. To address this, DHS will introduce a new process to consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests from noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens who:

  • Have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years.
  • Do not pose a threat to public safety or national security.
  • Are otherwise eligible for status adjustment.
  • Merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

Eligible individuals will be able to apply for lawful permanent residence without having to leave the U.S. Approximately 500,000 noncitizen spouses and 50,000 of their children could benefit from this process.

Eligibility Criteria and Application Process

To qualify, applicants must:

  • Be present in the U.S. without admission or parole.
  • Have been continuously present in the U.S. for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024.
  • Have a legally valid marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.
  • Have no disqualifying criminal history and not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Noncitizen children may also qualify if they are physically present in the U.S. and have a qualifying stepchild relationship to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024. Applicants must file a form with USCIS, provide supporting documentation, and pay a fee. Further details will be published soon, and USCIS will begin accepting applications later this summer.

Employment-Based Visa Facilitation

Additionally, DHS, in collaboration with the Department of State, will streamline the process for certain employment-based nonimmigrant visas. This will benefit eligible individuals, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and undocumented noncitizens who have graduated from accredited U.S. institutions of higher education. This effort aims to provide U.S. employers with greater confidence in hiring necessary talent quickly and efficiently.

At this time, this process has not been implemented and we await DHS to notify us in the coming weeks of updates. Please be aware that USCIS will reject any filings received before the official application period starts. Stay tuned. 

Contact a Qualified U.S. Immigration Attorney

Schedule a Consultation

If you believe you qualify for any of these new processes, it is crucial to seek professional assistance. Contact our office for support with your filing to ensure you navigate the application process correctly and maximize your chances of success. For more information on these initiatives and the application process, please stay tuned for upcoming announcements and detailed guidelines.