Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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The Attorney at The Christensen Law Firm, P.C has spent hours researching and studying the Immigration Reform bill that passed the Senate in July 2013 and is now at the house being debated. There are many important issues here that will help you or your loved one prepare for the reform. Remember, this is a summary of a bill that is not law just yet. There will likely be a few changes but we suspect the final bill will likely look very similar.

Please read through this summary and give us a call at (972) 497-1017 to schedule a low-cost consultation if you have any questions.

Title 1 Border Security

  • Increases funding for border security;
  • Requires 90% effectiveness rate for apprehensions and returns before RPI’s can get green cards;
  • E-verify must be mandatory and operational;

Title 2 Legalization and Legal Immigration

SubPart A. Creation of Registered Provisional Immigrant Program (RPI)

  • Immigrants who entered the US before December 31, 2011, and have not left since can apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI);
  • Must pass background test (no felonies or three misdemeanors), be otherwise admissible, pay back taxes, and a $500 fine;
  • Initially valid for 6 years and provides for work and travel authorization;
  • After 6 years must do a new background check, show evidence of regular employment, make sufficient income, and show evidence of learning English and another $500 fine and fees;
  • After 10 total years can apply for permanent residency. Must do another background check, prove to make enough money, speak English, and another $1000 fine;
  • Once receive residency three more years and can apply for citizenship meaning best case scenario 13 years for citizenship;
  • Certain grounds of inadmissibility will not apply. For example, the 3 and 10-year bars do not apply.
  • Timeline- 12 months for regulations and then 12 month application period;
  • DREAM Act- People who entered before age 16 and have completed high school can do this program faster. (No age cap). In addition to graduating from high school, need two years of college or four years in the military. Five years after registration DREAM RPI’s may apply for green cards and then immediately after for citizenship.
  • AGRICULTURE WORKERS- If they can show substantial past agricultural work, pay back taxes, and a $400 fine can apply for permanent residency;

SubPart B. Legal Immigration Reform

  • Creates a way for people lawfully present in US for 10 years to adjust to permanent resident and eliminates immigration backlogs within 8 years;
  • Clears backlog of existing petitions that have been pending for more than 5 years;
  • Lawful Permanent Residents’ spouses and children become “immediate relatives” and can immigrate immediately;
  • The current sibling category will be eliminated but they will process those who already have petitions. Will allow siblings to petition for 18 months after enactment. Also, the third family preference category (adult married children of US citizen) has age cap of 31.
  • New family “V” visa- families with approved petitions can come and work in US while waiting for green card.
  • EMPLOYMENT BASED REFORMS- No cap on doctors and other experts and professionals and the cap on the other workers is raised;
  • New merit-based system- Track one, 120,000 visas. Points are given for factors such as education, length of residence in US. If higher points can increase cap to 250,000 in a year where unemployment under 8.5%.
  • Expands availability of waivers for unlawful presence and expands the authority of immigration judges and DHS to waive removal on humanitarian grounds.

Title Three: Interior Enforcement

  • Five-year phase-in of mandatory e-verify
  • Adds anti-fraud measures but also adds due process measures for problems with e-verify
  • Refugee/Asylum Issues: eliminates a one-year asylum filing deadline. Authorizes asylum officers to grant asylum during credible fear interviews. Makes it easier for good cases.
  • Immigration Court: Increases immigration court personnel and increases training and resources. Provides access to counsel for vulnerable populations.
  • Tightens grounds of inadmissibility relating to document fraud, DWI following two convictions, gang-related activities, convictions for domestic violence, child abuse, stalking, violation of protective orders, and failing to register as a sex offender. (This will make thousands of potential RPI’s not eligible). Prohibits and/or increases penalties for illegal entry and reentry.
  • Expands discretion of Immigration Judges to conduct bond hearings;

Title Four: Reforms to Non-Immigrant Visa Program

  • H-1B cap raised to 110,000 with the option to increase the cap to 180,000;
  • Measures will be implemented to deter abuse and wages will have to increase to protect American workers;
  • New “W Visa”- this is for lesser-skilled workers performing services or labor for a registered employer in a registered position. Three-year visa with three year renewal periods. Initially, 20,000 W visas rising to 75,000 visas in year four.
  • New agricultural guest worker visa program. Also a portable, at-will employment-based visa (W-3 Visa) and contract-based visa (W-2 Visa) will replace the current H2A program.

As you can see there are a few things that you should be doing now. If you qualify for temporary resident status start collecting proof that you have been here since 2011. If you have a sibling, please file a petition for them as soon as possible and do not wait for the reform, you might lose the chance to petition for them. If you have any questions feel free to schedule a consultation at (972) 497-1017.

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