New US policy for immigrants; J’cans stand to benefit – Senator

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, has welcomed a new policy announced by United States President Joe Biden on Tuesday that could give immigrants who are married to American citizens a pathway to attaining their US citizenship. 

A statement on the White House’s website on Tuesday said that in order to be eligible under Biden’s new action to keep families together,  “noncitizens must – as of June 17, 2024 – have resided in the United States for 10 or more years and be legally married to a US citizen, while satisfying all applicable legal requirements. 

“On average, those who are eligible for this process have resided in the US for 23 years,” the White House stated. 

It continued: “Those who are approved after DHS’s (Department of Homeland Security) case-by-case assessment of their application will be afforded a three-year period to apply for permanent residency.” 

In addition, such individuals will be allowed to remain with their families in the United States and be eligible for work authorisation for up to three years.

“This will apply to all married couples who are eligible,” the White House said.

It added: “This action will protect approximately half a million spouses of US citizens, and approximately 50,000 noncitizen children under the age of 21 whose parent is married to a US citizen.”

Speaking at Wednesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing that was aired from the 10th Biennial Diaspora Conference in Montego Bay, St James, Johnson Smith described the move by the Biden administration as “an entirely positive development for our community overseas”. 

Added Johnson Smith: “We think that it is a step that is a positive reflection of the recognition of the immigrant community to the growth and development of and social cohesion of the United States.

“When we consider migration, we don’t only think about illegal migration, or think about persons being a burden on society, but we think about how it is that even us Jamaicans, specifically… contribute to the growth of other countries when we migrate, so that the positive cycle of migration is something that we’re always very pleased when it’s recognised by the host country,” she explained. 

The minister said the previous rule was that such immigrants had to go back home to their native country in order to regularise and then reapply to come back to the US. 

The new decision will, however, stand to positively impact “Jamaican families”, Johnson Smith declared, while noting that she did not have the exact numbers of such Jamaican beneficiaries.

“We do know that people are being encouraged, and we encourage Jamaicans who may listening overseas to get guidance from attorneys as to their eligibility before you engage the process so that you ensure that when you do, there is a positive result,” the minister advised. 

She further advised Jamaicans living in the US to contact the country’s consulate or mission to get a recommendation for an attorney.