Frequently Asked Questions

How is it possible for someone who grows up in the U.S. with a legal status to not have a clear path to citizenship?

Many immigrants and their children come to the United States under legal nonimmigrant visas such as the H1B or the E2. Most high-skilled immigrants enter the United States under the H1B visa. Due to long backlogs for certain countries (disproportionately affecting immigrants from India), the children who came with their parents "age-out" of their status at age 21, before parents obtain a green card. So they have to leave the country unless they find a temporary way to stay. E2 non-immigrant visa holders (immigrant small business owners employing Americans) have no pathway to citizenship. So the children these job creators bring with them have to self-deport at 21 or when they lose other temporary status. The children of these long-term visa holders “age-out” of their dependent status because current law only allows them to remain as dependents on their parent’s visa until 21. While they can move onto a temporary student visa for school, after completing their education, they must leave the country they grew up in, unless they are lucky enough to be sponsored by an employer. Meanwhile, when growing up and while in college, these individuals are not eligible for work authorization like DACA recipients or even in-state tuition in many states. (Ironically, they would have been eligible for work authorization, in-state tuition in many states, and proposals such as the Dream Act had their parents lost status). Data from the Cato Institute shows there are more than 200,000 "documented Dreamers." (See Cato Article 1 and Cato Article 2)

Why are documented Dreamers not protected by DACA?

The main requirements for DACA include the following: 1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; 2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday; 3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; 4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS; 5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012 While many documented Dreamers meet the age and residence requirements, they cannot qualify for the protection or work authorization that comes with DACA as they do not meet requirement #5, which required one to have no lawful status on June 15, 2012.

What past legislation or amendments have been offered to include documented Dreamers?

The preferred amendment to the Dream Act to include documented Dreamers can be found here. An iteration of this text was used in the following bills:

  1. Amendment offered by Congressman Collin Peterson to HR 6 in 2019.
  2. Believe Act ( Section 4 of S2091 from 116th Congress) by Senator Rand Paul exempts documented Dreamers from numerical limitations for green cards, if the individual grew up in the U.S., has spent an aggregate of 10 years, obtained a college degree in the U.S., and has a job offer.
  3. Republican Consensus Immigration Bill ( HR 6136 from 115th Congress)
  4. RAC Act by Congressman Curbelo ( HR 1468 from 115th Congress)
  5. S1937 from 115th Congress by Senator Flake
  6. 2013 Comprehensive Immigration Reform, SA 1710 Amendment offered by Senator Marco Rubio

What actions can the Biden administration take to protect documented Dreamers?

1. Include documented Dreamers in all future legislative efforts to protect Dreamers (see preferred text). 2. For future DACA programs, remove the current requirement for applicants to have "no status" on the date of announcement of the program, so documented Dreamers who age out can be protected if no other path exists for them to stay. 3. Direct USCIS to create a parole-in-place program through a policy memorandum to protect children of long-term visa holders who "age-out” ( see reference). This will allow children who are aging out to qualify for protections similar to the DACA program. 4. Grant work authorization to documented Dreamers who meet certain criteria. Currently, children of non-immigrant visa holders are not eligible for work authorization despite many individuals meeting the requirement for DACA. If an E2/H4 child's parent had lost status prior to 2012, that child would be eligible for work authorization. If they maintained status, the child would not be eligible for work authorization. 5. Direct USCIS to use dates for filing (DFFs) to determine age of dependent children instead of final action dates (FADs) when determining green card eligibility for children of family‐​based or employment‐​based immigrants ( see reference). Note that action number 5 alone will not help all documented Dreamers. This action will help prevent aging out of future H4 dependents, but will not protect H4 dreamers who have already aged out or children of other long-term visa holders who do not have a pathway to citizenship (E2).

What actions can Congress take to protect documented Dreamers?

1. Include documented Dreamers in all future legislative efforts to protect Dreamers (see preferred text). 2. Create a parallel bill to protect documented Dreamers and to offer a pathway to citizenship for these children of legal immigrants who have grown up in the country.