On Tuesday, twenty seven years after the last major changes in U.S. immigration laws, a bipartisan group of eight senators, meeting secretly for years revealed an outline of a major overhaul that will materially change the immigration landscape.
The bill called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 has three dominant goals: to create a path to legal status and a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants; to lock up U.S. borders to prevent illegal entry; and to simplify the hiring of temporary and permanent workers from overseas when needed.
President Obama has mandated immigration reform to one of his main concern for 2013. Obama stated earlier in the week after a White House meeting with two members of the “Gang of Eight.” “I urge the Senate to quickly move this bill forward and, as I told Senators Schumer and McCain, I stand willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible,” Obama called the bill “clearly a compromise,” stating that , “no one will get everything they wanted, including me.” Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee appears to be moving quickly by scheduling hearings for Friday and Monday. Senate Democratic leaders anticipate passage of the bill in May, following the debate. The House is preparing a similar bill.
The following is a simplified outline of ta very complicated and detailed bill:
Establishment and maintenance of effective control in high risk border sectors along the Southern border. This will be done as follows:
1) Persistent surveillance in High Risk Sectors along the Southern Border; and
2) An Effectiveness Rate of 90% in a fiscal year for all High Risk Sectors along the Southern Border. (The number of apprehensions and turn backs in a specificsector divided by the total number of illegal entries.)
3) $3 billion in new funds would be provided to improve border surveillance and detection, add law enforcement officers and operate aerial surveillance, and $1.5 billion in new funds would be used to improve border fencing.
LEGALIZATION OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS
Certain individuals in unlawful status may adjust their status to the legal status of Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI).
Eligibility Criteria are as follows:
- Must have resided in the United States prior to December 31, 2011 and maintenance of continuous physical presence since then;
- Pay a $500 penalty fee (except for DREAM Act eligible students), and assessed taxes, per adult applicant in addition to all applicable fees required to pay for the cost of processing the application.
Who does not qualify:
O Convicted of an aggravated felony;
o Convicted of a felony;
o Convicted of 3 or more misdemeanors;
o Convicted of an offense under foreign law;
o Unlawfully Voted; and
o Inadmissible for Criminal, National Security, Public Health, or other morality grounds
Spouses and children of people in RPI status can be petitioned for as derivatives of the principal applicant (but must in the United States at the time).
Immigrants in RPI status can work and travel outside of the United States Individuals outside of the United States who were previously here before December 31, 2011 and were deported for non-criminal reasons can apply to re-enter the United States in RPI status if they are the spouse, of or parent of a child who is, United States citizen or lawful permanent resident; or are a childhood arrival who is eligible for the DREAM Act.
Application period will be for 1 year with the possibility of extension by the Secretary for an additional 1 year.
Individuals with removal orders will be permitted to apply, as will aliens currently in removal proceedings.
RPI status shall last for a 6-year term that is renewable if the immigrant does not commit any acts that would render the alien deportable. Another $500 penalty fee is applicable at this time.
After 10 years, aliens in RPI status may adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident Status through the same Merit Based System everyone else must use to earn a green card (described below) if the following things have occurred:
o The alien maintained continuous physical presence
o They paid all taxes owed during the period that they are in status as an RPI
o They worked in the United States regularly;
o And demonstrated knowledge of Civics and English
People in DREAM Act Status and the Agricultural Program can get their green cards in 5 years and DREAM Act kids will be eligible for citizenship immediately after they get their green cards
The bill eliminates the backlog for family and employment-based visas.
The bill amends the definition of “immediate relative” to include a child or spouse of an alien admitted for lawful permanent residence.
The bill amends the existing category for married sons and daughters of citizens of the United States to include only sons and daughters who are under 31 years of age.
The bill repeals the Diversity Visa Program. Aliens who were or are selected for diversity immigrant visas for fiscal years 2013 or 2014 will be eligible to receive them.
The bill creates a startup visa for foreign entrepreneurs who seek to emigrate to the United States to startup their own companies.
THE NEW MERIT BASED SYSTEM
The merit based visa, created in the fifth year after enactment, awards points to individuals based on their education, employment, length of residence in the US and other considerations. Those individuals with the most points earn the visas. Those who access the merit based pathway to earn their visa are expected to be talented individuals, individuals in our worker programs and individuals with family here. 120,000 visas will be available per year based on merit. The number would increase by 5% per year if demand exceeds supply in any year where unemployment is under 8.5%. There will be a maximum cap of 250,000 visas
TEMPORARY WORK VISAS
H-1B Visa Reform
The base annual cap of 65,000 will be raised to 110,000 In future years, the cap can go as high as 180,000.
Create a new nonimmigrant classification known as the W-Visa. The W visa holder is an alien having a foreign residence who will come to the US to perform services or labor for a registered employer in a registered position. The spouse and minor children of the W visa holder will be allowed to accompany or follow to join and will be given work authorization for the same period of admission the W nonimmigrant is allowed to be here.
The Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act
The Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act (AgJOBS) would allow current undocumented farm workers to obtain legal status through an Agricultural Card Program. Undocumented farm workers who have made a substantial prior commitment to agricultural work in the United States would be eligible for an Agricultural Card.
Agricultural workers who fulfill future Agricultural Card work requirements in U.S. agriculture, show that they have paid all taxes, have not been convicted of any serious crime, and pay a $400 fine are eligible to adjust to legal permanent resident status. Spouses and minor children would receive derivative status.
A new agricultural guest worker visa program would be established to ensure an adequate agricultural workforce. A portable, at-will employment based visa (W-3 visa) and a contract-based visa (W-2 visa) would replace the current H-2A program. The H-2A program would sunset after the new guest worker visa program is operational.
source in part: www.aila.org