Comprehensive Immigration Legislation Would Provide Protection for Dreamers, Support for International Students
March 01, 2021

​The U.S. Citizenship Act (USCA), a sweeping immigration bill that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for millions of immigrants already in the country and provide an even faster track for Dreamers, was introduced Feb. 18 by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA).

The legislation follows a promise from President Biden that he would send an immigration package to Congress at the start of his administration.

The USCA would grant eligible Dreamers—undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children—"Legal Permanent Resident” status and immediate access to a green card. The provision would cover those already protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. After three years, green card holders who pass additional background checks would be able to apply for citizenship.

Other provisions would repeal limits on states offering in-state tuition to undocumented students and require states and public universities to offer in-state tuition to refugees, asylum seekers, and other special noncitizens. The bill also includes some benefits for international students. It would create a new green card program for international STEM PhD graduates, and allow for “dual intent” for F-1 visa applicants—meaning these students can express their intent to ultimately transition to another visa and remain in the United States after graduation when applying for their student visas. Click here for a full summary of the provisions of interest to higher education.

The comprehensive legislation faces an uphill battle in a narrowly divided Congress. Democrats have already indicated that they likely will address the various provisions in a piecemeal fashion, for example, moving the DREAM Act, which offers permanent legal protections for Dreamers, on a parallel track.

On that note, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reintroduced the DREAM Act last month, a stand-alone bill that would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers. ACE and other higher education associations sent a letter of support for the measure Feb. 22.

For more on Dreamers and DACA, see

Remember the Dreamers website logo

​The Remember the Dreamers campaign is working to focus Congress on ​​finding a legislative solution for Dreamers and DACA recipients.