Those who have immigrated to the U.S. outside the lawful programs afforded by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services may be eagerly awaiting the outcome of two bills currently in Congress. The House has already passed these bills, which may provide access to permanent residence and ultimately U.S. citizenship for several categories of immigrants. It is now up to the Senate to make these bills law.
The two bills are the Farm Workforce Modernization Act and the American Dream and Promise Act. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, if passed, will allow eligible farm workers to seek permanent residence by following certain steps, including:
- Proving they have worked in the agricultural industry for at least 180 of the last two years with items such as pay stubs or receipts
- Obtaining a blue card from the USCIS, which protects workers and their families from deportation
- Continuing employment as a farm worker for eight more years
- Applying for a U.S. green card
- Maintaining eligibility to remain in the U.S. for the next three to five years, depending on the situation
- Applying for U.S. citizenship
With the American Dream and Promise Act, those in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals may have an easier road to permanent residence and citizenship since they likely received a work permit when they applied to the DACA program. DACA recipients must earn their GEDs, obtain a college degree or join the military to qualify for green cards under the pending bill. Until either of these bills passes, those whose status in the U.S. is unsecured must continue waiting and hoping for positive changes.