Immigration Process Changes Likely Ahead Later this Summer for Certain Married Couples and Dreamers


On June 18, 2024, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a new immigration process intended to keep families together when one spouse is undocumented and wishes to seek lawful permanent residence (green card status). This new program only applies to noncitizen spouses who entered the U.S. without inspection or prior approval and are therefore considered undocumented or unauthorized immigrants.

The new immigration process, which is not accepting applications until later this summer, will offer certain noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens the opportunity to apply for parole-in-place from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Under this change, the undocumented spouse can remain in the U.S. while they apply for a green card, which is a departure from the current process, as explained below.

Currently, the process of attaining a green card requires the undocumented spouse to leave the U.S. to their native country and obtain a new immigrant visa to reenter. Oftentimes, after going to the U.S. consulate abroad, the spouse is banned from re-entering the U.S. due to long-standing U.S. immigration laws that penalize unlawful presence. This onerous process unfortunately separates families (potentially for 10 years), creating numerous hardships, especially when children are involved. There is no guarantee that the individual will be able to leave their native country to return to the U.S.

The new program will allow families to remain together in the U.S. throughout the green card application process and eliminate fears of being detained or deported without warning.

What other changes are included with the new process?

The new immigration program will also allow for temporary protections and work permits in the U.S. for undocumented spouses married to U.S. citizens.

In addition, the changes will positively impact U.S. college graduates and Dreamers, including DACA recipients, by easing the process of applying for work visas. The policy would allow for temporary work visas rather than basic work authorization to work for U.S. employers.

What qualifications are necessary for applicants?

The application form is not yet available, but it appears that DHS will consider allowing certain noncitizen spouses to apply for a green card if they meet the following criteria:

  • They have continuously resided in the United States since June 17, 2014 (at least 10 years).
  • They were physically present in the United States on June 17, 2024.
  • They have been legally married to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.
  • They entered the United States without admission or parole and do not currently hold any lawful immigrant or nonimmigrant status.
  • They have not been convicted of any disqualifying criminal offense.
  • They do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
  • They are otherwise eligible for adjustment of status.
  • They merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

The key consideration is that documentation will be required. However, the forms and filing fees have not yet been revealed. In addition, children of undocumented spouses might qualify to apply for green cards.

The program is expected to launch by the end of summer after a Federal Register notice with more details is published. Applications will not be accepted before the start date.

What if the new immigration changes are challenged in court?

Like DACA in 2012, the new rules could be challenged in federal court as an overreach of executive authority. However, if the program is put on hold or reversed in the future, individuals who have been granted parole will have an easier path to lawful permanent residence. This is because they will be considered paroled and therefore legally on the path to applying for a green card without needing to leave the U.S. and their families.

At Murphy Desmond S.C., our immigration attorneys are fully knowledgeable of and closely following these new changes. Please contact us for guidance on the new application process and to see how it could help you legalize your immigration status.

You can reach our firm by calling 608.270.5550 or emailing

¡Hablamos español y los podemos ayudar!

 Published June 20, 2024