There are all kinds of immigrants to this country. It’s not always as simple as being “documented” or undocumented.
We’ve heard a lot about “Dreamers” who came here with their undocumented parents when they were too young to have a choice in the matter. Many have qualified to remain here legally under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative that President Obama put in place, but that’s never become law.
Now we’re hearing more from another group of young people who came here as children with their parents. Known as “documented Dreamers,” they accompanied their parents to the U.S. when they came here under work visas.
What are the current options?
However, once they reach the age of 21, they can no longer remain here under their parents’ visas. If at least one parent hasn’t obtained a green card or became a U.S. citizen, their primary options are to:
- Get a student visa to attend college and then maybe grad school
- Get a work visa if they have a skill or training that is in demand and lets them qualify for one
- Return to the country of their birth, where they may have few, if any connections and may not even speak the language.
Unfortunately, with the serious backlogs, getting any type of visa or waiting for their parents to get permanent resident status and a green card can take years.
An amendment may succeed where standalone bills have failed
Members of Congress have been working to pass legislation that would allow both documented and undocumented Dreamers to remain in the country until they can qualify for their own visa. The House of Representatives has passed a bill to do that, but it doesn’t have the votes it needs to pass in the Senate.
Lawmakers who favor protections for these young immigrants have decided that the only feasible way to get something passed is through an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act rather than standalone legislation. The proposed amendment would allow those who have lived in the U.S. for a minimum of eight years to stay until they can get their own visa or their parents can get a green card and sponsor them under that.
If you have questions or issues regarding your own immigration status or that of your child, it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance. This can help you determine your options.