Alex Padilla (Democratic party) and Rand Paul (Republican party) presented a bipartisan bill in the Senate called “America’s Children Act” to safeguard documented dreamers from losing their legal immigration status when they turn 21. Dreamers who were brought to the United States as youngsters are known as documented (or legal) dreamers. Their parents were granted non-immigrant visas, such as the H-1B, to enter the United States legally.
Families are frequently split up as a result of this. Children who have reached the age of majority must either apply for an international student visa (which has drawbacks such as higher fees and limited employment options) or self-deport to their native country, such as India. Later, if they intend to work in the United States, they must apply for a lottery-based H-1B visa or another work visa. When these children reach the age of 21, they will no longer be eligible for H-4 dependent visas. This frequently leads to family disintegration.
The Senate version of the measure, like the House version, provides a path to permanent residency for legal dreamers who have lived in the United States for ten years (including four years as a dependant) and graduated from a post-secondary institution. The bill’s frosting on the cake for children of Indian parents is that it locks in a child’s age on the date the green card application was filed, alleviating the misery that the decades-long green card backlog involves, such as family separation. A child who turns 21 while waiting for a green card will not lose eligibility for the card under his or her parent’s application under the rules of this bill.
It also aims to grant permission to work to documented dreamers over the age of sixteen whose green card applications are still being processed. Nearly 70 percent of the estimated 2 lakh documented dreamers are children from Indian homes. Dependent spouses and dependent children under the age of 21 are eligible for H-4 and L-2 visas, which are awarded to dependents of H-1B and L-1 workers (intracompany transfer visa holders). While H-1B and L-1 employees and their children can eventually get green cards, they are frequently locked in a decades-long backlog, which has a negative impact on Indian families.
According to a previous analysis by David Bier, a research fellow at Cato Institute, 1.36 lakh children from Indian households were stuck in the EB2 and EB3 employment-based green card backlog as of April 2020, with an expected wait time of 84 years. Bier had stated that 62% of such youngsters would reach the age of 18 without obtaining a green card.
Senator Padilla stated, “We cannot turn our backs on the ‘Documented Dreamers,’ who have spent most of their lives in this country, contributing to their communities and our economy, but face continued uncertainty and the potential of deportation once they reach 21.” “These young people deserve the chance to live out their American dreams and create lives in the place they call home.” Senator Paul went on to say that the government’s failures to address the green card backlogs should not be held against these children.