Reconciliation Bill: Recapture of decades of Immigrant Visas / Advance I-485 Filing with Fees

Last week, a House Judiciary Committee approved the language of some immigration provisions to be included in a budget reconciliation bill. These provisions, if passed into law, will provide signficant and far-reaching changes to the current immigration system.  The most important provisions include: 

  • Allows individuals with humanitarian/temporary immigrant status and some undocumented essential workers to obtain permanent resident status ("green card").  Individuals in TPS and DACA ("Dreamers") are covered by these provisions.
  • Provides a path to citizenship after 3 to 5 years for the above individuals.
  • Recaptures of unused immigrant visa numbers from FY 1992 until FY 2021.
  • Allows family-based and employment-based immigrant visa applicants to submit the Form I-485 application to adjust status by paying additional fees ($1500 for the prinicpal applicant and $250 for each dependent) even though their priority dates are not yet current.
  • Allows immigration visa applicants to pay supplemental fees to adjust status to become permanent residents if their priority dates are not current after waiting for at least two years, regardless of the worldwide and per-country visa caps.  The supplemental fees are $2,500 for family-based I-485 applicants; $5,000 for employment-based I-485 applicants (EB-1 to EB-3); and $50,000 for EB-5 employment creation (investment visa) applicants
  • Restores the Diversity Visas for applicants who were selected in the diversity visa lottery but were denied visas due the immigrant travel bans and other disruptions due to COVID-19.

Each of these immigration provisions, even if viewed individually, is profoundly significant and could affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals. 

Although the media's attention has been drawn to the provisions regarding legalizing the undocumented and providing them a path to citizenship, the other provisisons affecting legal immigration are equally important. 

For instance, the proposal to recapture unusued visa numbers for the past 19 years or so will speed up the green card application process for countless visa applicants. Just for FY 2021, Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State, estimated that 150,000 of family preference visas and 100,000 employment-based visas were unused. 

For many high-tech workers who have been working in the U.S. on the H-1B visas, the provisions allowing them to file for the I-485 adjustment appliants in advance will offer them stability in life and peace of mind.  

However, it is important to note that these immigrantion provisions are still a few steps from becoming reality. 

These immigration-related provisions are squeezed in a budget reconciliation bill, which is designed for tax and spending purposes only.  The bill and its provisions must be reviewed and approved by the  Senate Parliamentarian before it can be presented to the Senate for a vote.  Proponents of the bill are making strong arguments that these provisions will tremedously improve our GDP and tax revenues. Interestly, the current Sentate Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, actaully has a strong background in immigration issues. She previously served as a trial attorney for the Department of Justice handling immigration cases in New Jersey. Ms. MacDonough and her staff must review all the provisions of the bill and determine if they meet the requirements of the Senate rules and precedents. 

Assuming the bill is sent to the Senate for a vote, it only requires a simple majority of 51 votes to pass. Stay tuned for further development. 

Update:  Senate parliamentarian rules against inclusion of the immigration provisions in the reconciliation bill late last night.  Hence, these immigration provisions will not be voted on by Senate. 

(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit to schedule legal consultation.) 


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