As a lot of our readers inquired about the detailed provisions of the Immigration Reform bill, we have prepared summaries of the key provisions of the 844 page bill introduced on April 16, 2013 “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744).
We would like to remind our readers that the bill is not yet the law. It will become the law only if it passes the Senate and the House of Representatives and is signed by the President.
Please note that this summary is not intended as a comprehensive overview of all the provisions of the bill. Please consult the full text of the bill to review the proposed Act. Click Here for the Full Text of the Bill.
The provisions of the bill can be divided into Legalization, Legal Immigration, Family-Based Immigration, Employment-Based Immigration, Interior Enforcement, and Border Security.
We will issue summaries for each of these main sections of the bill. Follow our blog for updates.
Legalization of Undocumented Aliens – Proposed Creation of Registered Provisional Immigrant Program
The bill provides for a lengthy legal path of obtaining U.S. citizenship for individuals in unlawful status. Below are the steps on how aliens will be able to legalize their status and become a resident of the U.S.
Step 1. Obtain Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) Status – granted for 6 years
General requirements for obtaining Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status for aliens unlawfully present in the U.S. (covers aliens who entered the U.S. illegally or whose authorized period of stay expired):
1. Physical presence in the U.S.
• Must have entered the U.S. on or before December 31, 2011
• Maintain continuous physical presence in the U.S. from December 31, 2011 until RPI status is granted
• Generally cannot leave the U.S. after the date of enactment of the Bill
• Must pay filing fees and a penalty fee of $500
• Must satisfy all federal tax liabilities before filing
3. Ineligible for RPI if certain conditions apply:
• General– If have been an LPR (lawful permanent resident or “green card” holder), refugee, asylee, or lawfully present nonimmigrant (with certain exceptions) notwithstanding any unauthorized employment or status violations, on the date the bill was introduced in the Senate (April 16, 2013).
• In addition, ineligible if the following criminal bars apply (*except convictions that were expunged or set aside):
1) Convicted of felony or 3 or more misdemeanors
2) Convicted of a certain offenses under foreign law if they would make the individual inadmissible or deportable if convicted in the U.S.
3) Unlawfully voted
• In addition, ineligible if the following Immigration Violations apply:
1) Generally, if left the U.S. after the enactment of the bill
2) If committed certain immigration violations, such as for example Falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen; If national security bar applies; or If public health grounds apply
*Waiver authorized for certain convictions and immigration violations
*The following list provides non-exhaustive list of grounds of inadmissibility that DO NOT PRECLUDE THE INDIVIDUALS FROM OBTAINING RPI STATUS:
3/10 year unlawful presence bar
Student visa abusers
Unlawful presence after previous immigration violation
Certain aliens previously removed
Individuals with removal orders and those currently in removal proceedings
4. What is RPI Status?
An individual granted RPI status may work for any employer and travel outside of the United States. Generally, individuals on RPI status may not leave the U.S. for more than 180 days at a time.
Individuals who have been granted RPI are not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefits, premium assistance tax credits, and other benefits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Spouses and children of an RPI may also receive RPI status provided they
• Are physically present in the U.S. on the date RPI status is granted and on or before December 30, 2012
• Meet all eligibility requirements for RPI except for physical presence requirement.
5. Duration of RPI status: RPI status can initially be granted for 6 years and may be extended for additional 6 years.
Step 2. Obtain for Extension of RPI Status – valid for another 6 years
Requirements for Extension of RPI status:
1) RPI continues to be eligible for RPI
2) Maintains continuous residence in the U.S.
3) RPI pays back any federal taxes due
4) RPI has to be regularly employed
5) Employment requirement.
• Must have been regularly employed through RPI period (6 years) allowing gaps of not more than 60 days and Not likely to become a public charge; or
• Demonstrates an average income not less than the poverty level throughout RPI status.
* Exceptions for full-time students, children, elderly, those with physical or mental disabilities or RPI dependents in addition to certain temporary exceptions.
6) Payment of filing fees and a penalty fee of $500
7) Passes Civics and English exams
Step 3. Obtain Green Card – after 10 years in RPI status
May apply for green card if the following conditions are met:
1) Individual has been grated and remains eligible for RPI
2) Individual cannot have been absent for more than 180 days in any calendar year during RPI status
3) Individual paid all federal taxes due
4) Individual have been regularly employed or can demonstrate income at least 125% of poverty level throughout RPI status. Same exceptions to employment requirement as for obtaining RPI status.
5) Individual must pass Civics and English exams.
6) Individual must register for selective service, if applicable.
7) Individual cannot apply until immigrant visas become available for all other immigrant categories, both family-based and employment-based that were filed before the date of enactment of the bill.
8) Individual must pay filing fees and a penalty of $1000
Step 4. Obtain U.S. citizenship – after 3 years in LPR status
After 3 years in LPR Status, an individual may apply for naturalization under the regular provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Special Provisions for Obtaining Green Cards for DREAMERs
Instead of general provisions for obtaining RPI, DREAMERs will follow the guidelines in the THE DREAM ACT OF 2013. Those DREAMERs who have been granted RPI in accordance with the DREAM Act will have to demonstrate the following in order to obtain green cards:
• Has been an RPI for at least 5 years
• Entered the U.S. initially before the age of 16
• Has earned a high school diploma or GED in the U.S.
• Obtained a degree from an institution of higher education or completed at least 2 years of a bachelor’s program or military service for 4 years
• Has passed Civics and English examples
• Has passed background checks
Once granted green cards, may apply for U.S. citizenship immediately.
DREAMERs do not have to wait until immigrant visa backlogs are cleared like the general population of RPI holders. There is no numerical limitation on immigrant visas for DREAMERs.
Special Provisions for Obtaining Green Cards for Agricultural Workers
Agricultural workers may obtain “Blue Card Status” or also known as Agricultural Card, which means that they will be authorized employment and travel outside of the U.S. (for not more than 180 days). Workers will receive status if they
• Undergo background checks
• Worked for 100 work days during the two year period ending on December 31, 2012
• Pay $100 in penalty fees
• Not ineligible under the same grounds as RPI
Agricultural workers may then adjust status and obtain green cards in 5 years after being granted Blue Card status if they
• Fulfill agricultural employment requirements (regularly employed in agricultural field while on blue card status)
• Pay back any federal taxes due
• Pay a $400 fine
We will continue to update our blog readers with the summaries of other provisions of the proposed Immigration reform Bill.