The House Judiciary Committee advanced a budget bill this week that would provide a pathway to permanent residence for millions of immigrants and adopt measures to reduce the green card backlog.

The committee’s action is a first step in the legislative process. The Senate parliamentarian will soon determine whether the immigration provisions can be enacted through the budget reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to pass legislation by a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes. Any immigration provisions would be part of a larger budget reconciliation package, which would need to pass the House and Senate and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law. Provisions may change before the two chambers vote on a final version of the package, depending on the parliamentarian’s ruling and political dynamics.

The version of the bill the House Judiciary Committee advanced would:

  • Provide a path to lawful permanent residence for certain Dreamers, essential workers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) beneficiaries.
    • Applicants would not be subject to any annual numerical limit.
    • Both legal immigrants and those who are out of status would be able to obtain the benefit, provided they meet all requirements under the bill and are not subject to the bars to eligibility.
    • Many high-skilled immigrants would qualify as “essential workers” and would be able to adjust status under this provision in lieu of the traditional employment-based green card process.
  • Adopt measures to reduce the green card backlog and wait times, including:
    • Making more than 200,000 unused employment-based green cards from prior fiscal years available and preventing green card numbers from going unused in the future.
    • Allowing applicants still subject to the green card backlog to pay a fee to file an adjustment-of-status application before their priority date is current (i.e., “early adjustment filing”).
    • Allowing certain individuals to pay a fee to request an exemption from per-country caps.

Additional Information: For additional information, please see BAL’s analysis of the key immigration provisions in the House bill, available here. BAL will continue following the budget reconciliation process and will provide updates on important developments.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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