Unless you have been living on a deserted island, you no doubt have heard about the new proposed immigration reform bill which has been released on April 16, 2013. There is a lot of information, or shall I say, misinformation going around surrounding this and it is very important to not believe or trust everything you hear. The bill has only been proposed, it has not been approved and it is not law as of yet. Therefore, as of today’s date, this is only a proposed bill, it is not yet law we can utilize today. People have been calling our office because they get information on the street from paralegals and notarios that the reform has already passed and they wish to apply for “it”. There is nothing to apply for as of this date. Again, we have only been provided with a DRAFT of the proposed reform, it may be changed and rewritten and may take several months (and I’m being hopeful here) before it actually gets approved and enacted.
For the very reason stated above, that this is only a proposed version which can be changed, it is difficult to comment on all the details of it, but as it is written now, it is a great, positive step in the right direction. Although there are a lot of various aspects of immigration which this proposed bill addresses, including border security and economic opportunities, I would like to focus more on legalization of the now illegal immigrants.
The new proposed status qualifying illegal immigrants will be given are Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI). So, main question arises, who will be eligible? As we see it now eligibility criteria will be as follows:
- Must have resided in the United States prior to 12/31/2011 and maintained continuous physical presence since then. Although we are not given much detail, it seems that slight departures may be excused, but it will need to be evaluated on a case by case basis.
- Must have NEVER:
- Been convicted of an aggravated felony
- Been convicted of a felony
- Convicted of 3 or more misdemeanors
- Convicted of an offense under foreign law
- Unlawfully voted
- Have been inadmissible for criminal, national security, public health or other morality grounds
- Penalty fee of $500 will be assessed (except for Dream Act eligible students)
- RPI status will last for six years and can be renewed if the person did not commit any acts which would make him deportable (those mentioned in #2 above)
- It is important to note that those granted RPI status will NOT be eligible for any federal public benefits.
A person who has been granted RPI can adjust to a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) after 10 years (unless an exception applies which allows certain individuals, like those in Agricultural Program or those in Dream Act status to apply after 5 years) provided all conditions have been met. In order to be able to apply for LRP, an RPI must have:
- Maintained continuous physical presence. Must not have had any trips outside the US, which lasted longer than 180 days in a calendar year.
- Paid all taxes owed ruing the entire period they are in RPI status
- Must have worked regularly in the US (certain brief exceptions, such as for medical exception will likely be accepted)
- Must demonstrate knowledge of Civics and English (similar as is now required for citizenship). There will be exceptions for those who are not able, for medical reasons, to learn this information.
- A penalty fee in the amount of $1000 will also need to be paid.
Does it sound confusing? It is! That is why it is extremely important to always deal with experienced, knowledgeable attorneys. We received information that a lot of paralegals and others with no law license are offering advice and are taking people’s money to “help” them with their immigration problems. Please be certain that not only will these people not help you, they will likely make you worse off than you were before. Always deal only with attorneys concerning all of your immigration matters.
The proposed bill also talks about family and employment based immigrants, with a lot of significant changes to be made in those areas. To find out more about the new bill and how it can affect you or your loved one or to find out what remedies are available to you today, please contact our office.