The 10 most frequently asked questions and answers about the Senate Immigration Reform bill
1 What are the general requirements to be eligible for legalization?
At the heart of Senate Immigration Reform is a comprehensive and rigorous legalization program that will put most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants on the path to eventual citizenship. The reform provides for many legalization program steps that will first allow people to apply for “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (RPI) status and then, after 10 years, for lawful permanent residence status, and then after 3 more years, for US citizenship.
Eligibility requirements include criminal and security background checks and establishing continuous physical presence in the United States beginning before December 31, 2011. Departures for less than 180 days during this period do not constitute breaks in physical presence. Criminal convictions (1 felony or 3 separate misdemeanors) and other degrees of inadmissibility make applicants ineligible for probate.
Applicants must pay a $500 USD penalty at the time of their initial application. Another $500 penalty at the time of renewing your RPI status, and then another $1,000 penalty at the time of adjusting your permanent status. Processing fees will apply for adjudication of applications at each of the 4 stages of the path to citizenship: Initial Application, Renewal of RPI status after 6 years, Application for Legal Permanent Residence after 10 years, and Application for Citizenship after 3 additional years (if desired).
A person can remain in RPI status and renew it every 6 years if desired. At the time of renewal of RPI status and/or application for permanent residence, the applicant must demonstrate that he has maintained regular employment or education, paid taxes, and the ability to support himself. At the time of application for adjustment to lawful permanent residence, applicants must demonstrate that they are learning English and that they are aware of civic norms.
Persons who have a final order of removal, or who have previously re-entered the US after prior deportation, even voluntary, are eligible to apply for RPI status. In addition, certain persons who have been previously deported for non-criminal offenses, who have USC or LPR spouses, parents or children in the United States, or who are DREAM Act eligible, are eligible to apply for a temporary waiver. to re-enter the United States, in order to apply for legal stay. People who entered the United States with a valid visa and stayed are also eligible, as long as their illegal stay has been only since December 31, 2011.
Individuals who receive RPI status can legally work in the United States and travel outside the country. Your minor children, if they are in the United States, may be included in your application.
Individuals with PRI status are not eligible for the benefits of government programs, subsidies or tax credits under the Affordable Care Act.
2 What will happen to people with arrears on their visa?
The Senate reform eliminates the current delays in family and work visas up to 8 years. All people who are currently in arrears on their visa, waiting for their city to catch up, will obtain lawful permanent resident status before new legalized RPI’s can obtain their permanent stake.
3 Will the strengthening of border control delay the legalization program?
Border control reinforcements should not delay the initial RPI legalization program. These require the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit, within 6 months of their enactment, two plans. The first is a strategy to achieve an effective target of 90% in high-risk sectors of the southern border. The second is a plan designed to reinforce the current barriers. The initial legalization program does not begin until these plans are submitted. The legalization program will also not begin until the implementing regulations are issued – within 12 months of the bill’s enactment.
If, after five years, the 90% success rate has not been achieved in high-risk sectors, an additional pool of resources will be authorized to achieve this and a commission of experts and elected officials from border states will be formed. The border commission will issue recommendations to DHS on additional steps that should be taken to help reach the 90% success rate goal.
Two other border control enhancements that must be met before those with RPI status can apply for permanent residence, these involve the application of the E-Verify program and entry and exit controls at air and sea ports. Both of these triggers are achievable and should not delay the path to permanent residence.
4 What about family members, spouses/children of lawful permanent residents, siblings, LGBT partners, children of married adults?
The Senate bill provides for increased family unit categorizing spouses and minor children of permanent residents as “immediate relatives” for immigration purposes. This means that these family members are not subject to any numerical limitations. That, in turn, frees up visas for the other categories of the family, which will limit the size of new backlogs that can develop in those categories in the future.
The bill will eliminate the visa categories for relationship to a US citizen and diversity visas. However, all US citizens with currently pending sibling petitions will be able to complete their sponsorship and new petitions can be filed for another 18 months. After that point, the siblings will still be eligible for a new “merit-based visa” and will receive eligibility points based on their family relationship. They will also be authorized to travel to the United States as visitors for periods of two months each year.
The visa category for children of married adults will be limited in the future to those who are under 31 years of age.
The bill does not provide for family visas for LGBT “permanent associates.” This provision will need to be added to the bill through the amendment process.
5 What about the dreamers, what about them?
Dreamers can gain permanent legal status within five years, and are immediately eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. Dreamers who have previously been deported may be eligible to apply for legal status if they meet certain requirements, even if they do not have a US rating ratio
6 What other changes does the bill make to employment-based visa programs?
Farmworkers are eligible for an expedited five-year path to permanent residency and eventually citizenship under current law. To qualify, among other things, they have to continue working in the agricultural sector for an additional period of 3-5 years after enactment.
Other essential workers can apply for a new “W” work visa that will allow them to enter and work in the US for participating employers, change jobs for other W employers, and eventually self-petition for permanent lawful status in the US. framework of the new merit-based program.
Both the W visa program and the new farmworker program are subject to important standards for wages and working conditions negotiated by the labor to protect both immigrant and native-born workers.
Finally, there are new protections against employers who use immigration status to intimidate workers and to prevent international recruiters from misleading or mistreating people they bring to the US.
7 What about people who had TPS or DED?
Individuals who have been in the United States in authorized legal status or employment, including TPS or DED, for at least ten years are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence. This will allow people in these states who have already been here for more than ten years to adjust their status immediately, instead of waiting another ten years.
8 Are there any changes to asylum and refugee programs in this bill?
The Senate bill offers major improvements to asylum and refugee programs, including eliminating the arbitrary one-year deadline.
9 What about other enforcement measures, such as E-Verify?
The bill includes a mandatory universal employment verification program, E-Verify. The program includes new due process and privacy protections, and is phased in over a five-year period until it includes all employers in the United States.
10 When will this bill become law? What is the process? When can people start applying for legalization?
The Senate bill must first move through an approval process in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it will be subject to amendment by both Republicans and Democrats on the committee. The bill then go to the full Senate for debate and amendments and final vote. The House must pass an immigration bill.
If the House and Senate bills are not identical, the two bills usually go to a House/Senate “conference committee,” where further changes will be made as differences between the two bills are resolved. elaborate. The final bill agreed to by the Conference Committee must be sent back to the House and Senate for a final vote, and only then can the bill be signed into law by the President.
Once the bill becomes law, there will be a one-year period in which regulations are written to implement the bill. The application period for the new legalization program will begin one year after the bill becomes law, and applicants will have one year to apply. The Secretary of DHS can extend the application period for an additional eighteen months if necessary.
During the year it takes to finalize the regulations after the bill is enacted, and during the implementation period of one to two and a half years, people who are eligible for legalization will be protected from deportation.
You cannot apply for legalization before the program’s application period begins, one year after the bill became law. Individuals should not pay anyone to prepare and submit their application unless and until the official application period begins. Information and deadlines will be posted on various government and non-profit organization websites.