How Biden’s immigration plan would affect colleges

by Jeremy

Dive Brief: 

  • President-elect Joe Biden is expected to unveil an immigration bill on Inauguration Day that would allow sure unauthorized students to apply for permanent residence and increase the number of work and family visas available.
  • Biden will also pitch an eight-year pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, The Washington Post first reported. The legislation would immediately allow those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to apply for green cards.
  • Higher education experts said the proposal would create a more welcoming environment for unauthorized and international students, though it’s unclear how it will fare in Congress.

Dive Insight:

The incoming administration’s approach to immigration contrasts that of the outgoing one, which pushed policies that make it harder for unauthorized and international students to study in the U.S.  The cornerstone of Biden’s proposal is a direct pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. Qualifying applicants could receive a green card after being placed under temporary status for five years, according to The Post. They could seek citizenship three years later.


However, immigrants with DACA or a protected status for those fleeing war-torn or disaster-struck countries will be able to apply for green cards right away. DACA was created in 2012 to shield unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation. This approach recognizes that DACA beneficiaries have been waiting for a chance to obtain permanent residence, said Gaby Pacheco, director of advocacy and communications for TheDream.Us, which awards college scholarships to unauthorized students. “We’re talking about eight years of people already being in the system,” she said.

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