It is a relief to note that the immigration reform proposal will be voted on by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee and if approved will move on to the Senate floor for debate. To give you some updates, the “Gang of Eight’s” proposed Senate bill (S. 744) was introduced on April 16 and is called “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act”. The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently holding hearings on the bill. Once they reach a final decision, it goes to Congress for their consideration of the law and a vote.
Under this proposed law, we expect possibly 11 million or more undocumented immigrants of unlawful status to apply for the legal status of “Registered Provisional Immigrant” status or “RPI”. Among the foremost eligibility criteria of the proposed law are:
1. Residence in the United States prior to December 31, 2011, and maintenance of continuous physical presence since then; and
2. Payment of a $500 penalty fee (except for Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) eligible students), and assessed taxes, per adult applicant in addition to all applicable fees required to be paid for the cost of processing the application.
Other provisions of the proposed law. Spouses and children of people in RPI status could work and travel outside of the United States. Individuals outside of U.S. who were previously here before December 31, 2011, and were deported for non-criminal reasons could apply to re-enter the U.S. in RPI status, that is, if they are the spouse of or parent of a child who is a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident; or who eligible for DACA.
Application and Term Period. Application period would be for one (1) year with the possibility of extension by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) for an additional one (1) year. Individuals with removal orders would be permitted to apply, as with persons currently in removal proceedings. RPI status would last for a six (6)-year term that is renewable if the immigrant does not commit any acts that would render the person deportable. Another $500 penalty fee would be applicable at that time.
Permanent Residency. After 10 years, persons in RPI status could adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident Status (“LPR”) through the same Merit Based System everyone else must use to earn a “green card” if the following items have been met:
– The RPI maintained continuous physical presence;
– They paid all taxes owed during the period that they are in status as an RPI;
– They worked in the U.S. regularly; and
– They demonstrated knowledge of Civics and English
People in DACA (“Dreamers”) Status and the Agricultural Program could get their green cards in five (5) years and DACA kids would be eligible for citizenship immediately after they got their green cards.
Who does not qualify? This proposed law would not apply to people who have been convicted of an aggravated felony, a felony, three (3) or more misdemeanors, who have unlawfully voted, and are inadmissible for criminal, national security, and/or public health reasons.
This is not an Amnesty as some politicians have said in the media. I was practicing immigration law when “Amnesty” was passed in the 1980s. The proposed immigration reform differs from the previous Amnesty law of the 1980s and the requirements now “are no giveaway”. I suggest scheduling an appointment soon to determine your eligibility . . . and to help you avoid the rush of applications if and when the new law is passed by Congress; and, DHS/USCIS opens the application period.
The next article will address the business and legal immigration provisions of the proposed immigration reform.