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New US Program Aids Immigrant Spouses with Citizenship Path

The Biden administration has unveiled a groundbreaking program designed to provide deportation protection, work permits, and a pathway to citizenship for up to 500,000 immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens. This initiative aims to address the prolonged family separations caused by existing immigration laws that necessitate individuals who crossed the border illegally to return to their home countries to complete the green card process.

Immigrant spouse citizenship program

Key Features of the Program

Senior administration officials estimate that the new policy could impact upwards of half a million immigrants. To be eligible, an immigrant must have resided in the U.S. for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024, and be married to a U.S. citizen. Approved applicants will have a three-year window to apply for a green card, during which they will receive temporary work permits and protection from deportation.

Impact on Families

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In addition to benefiting spouses, approximately 50,000 noncitizen children with a parent married to a U.S. citizen could also qualify for the same protections. Notably, there is no stipulation regarding the length of the marriage, focusing solely on the 10-year residency requirement by the June 17, 2024 cutoff.

Application Process and Timeline

Applications for the program are expected to open by the end of summer, with specific fees yet to be announced. This initiative coincides with the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, another significant policy offering deportation protections and temporary work permits for young undocumented immigrants.

Historical Context and Legal Framework

The new policy utilizes the “parole in place” authority, previously exercised by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, primarily for family members of military personnel. This provision allows qualifying immigrants to seek U.S. permanent residency without the need to leave the country, eliminating a major hurdle for those lacking legal status but married to American citizens.

Broader Immigration Reforms

In conjunction with this announcement, President Biden will also introduce new regulations to facilitate easier qualification for established work visas for certain DACA beneficiaries and other young immigrants. These regulations aim to offer more substantial protections than the temporary work permits currently available under DACA.

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Recent Border Policy Changes

This announcement follows recent changes to border policies by the Biden administration, which have halted asylum claims for individuals arriving outside designated ports of entry. These changes have led to a decrease in border encounters and are presently facing legal challenges from immigrant-rights groups.


The new program represents a significant step towards addressing the challenges faced by immigrant families under current U.S. immigration laws. By offering a pathway to citizenship and temporary protections, the initiative seeks to mitigate the hardships of family separations and provide a more stable future for immigrant spouses and their children.

Source: The Economic Times

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