Highlights (and Lowlights) of the Senate Immigration Bill

by | Apr 16, 2013 | Firm News |

The release of the Senate immigration bill has generated more excitement that there will be a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. While this is a positive step, there are some important cautions raised by the bill as well. Here are some key points to consider with this week’s announcement:

This isn’t a law yet.

Even though this bill is important, it is just an early step in a long lawmaking process. It is still possible there won’t be a new law, or that it will be very different from what was initially proposed. Therefore, while it’s worth looking at the key points of the bill, it’s important to keep in mind that a lot can change in the future.

Residency after many years.

The bill allows undocumented immigrants to get a temporary status called “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (RPI) status, allowing them to stay and work in the U.S. legally. Most would not, however, be eligible for permanent residency (a necessary step to citizenship) for many years.

Eligible individuals with this temporary status could apply for permanent residence, but only if several enforcement goals are met. These goals include an entry/exit system, a countrywide mandatory employment verification system, completion of a border fence, and substantial progress towards a border control plan with a 90 % effectiveness rate in apprehending individuals attempting to enter without inspection.

If these goals are not met, however, it appears that those in temporary status will need to keep waiting. If this is the case, individuals would be able to maintain RPI status until the goals are met, as the status is renewable after six years.

If these goals are met, those in temporary status would be able to adjust to lawful permanent resident status, provided that they maintained continuous physical presence, paid all taxes owed to the government and a $1,000 fine, worked in the United States regularly, and can demonstrate knowledge of Civics and English. Once lawful permanent residents, they will be eligible to apply for citizenship in three years.

Exception for “DREAMers” and Agricultural Workers.

Individuals who qualify for the Dream Act or participate in the Agricultural Card Program could adjust their status to lawful permanent resident after a period of five years in RPI status, and could apply for citizenship immediately thereafter. Additionally, these individuals would be able to receive their green cards in five years regardless of whether the Border Security goals have been met.

Who Qualifies for Temporary Residence (RPI status)?

Applicants for temporary residence will need to demonstrate that they were in the U.S. on December 31, 2011, and have been continuously physically present since that date. They will also need to demonstrate they do not have any disqualifying criminal convictions, which appear to include any conviction for a felony, aggravated felony, three or more misdemeanors, or a foreign offense. It also disqualifies individuals who have unlawfully voted or are deemed a criminal or national security threat.

Additionally, applicants would need to pay a penalty fee and assessed taxes in addition to the regular application fees. These fees would apply at the time of renewal of RPI status as well.

Changes to the Immigrant Visa System.

The bill calls for the elimination of the current immigrant visa backlog during the temporary residency period so that temporary residents will have not jumped ahead those who have already been waiting for a green card. The backlog would be eliminated by changing the alloted number of visas available for certain family and employment-based visas, and establishing a new, “merit-based” visa system which would assign points to individuals based on factors such as their education, special skills, and family ties to the United States, among others. There would be 120,000 visas available per year, and that number could increase by 5% per year if needed, as long as unemployment is under 8.5%. There would be a maximum cap of 250,000 visas per year.

The plan also calls for the elimination of immigrant visas for the siblings of U.S. citizens after 18 months from the date of the enactment of the law. This could have many implications for those with U.S. citizen siblings who do not yet have visa petitions pending for them. For further discussion on this topic, please see our previous post, “With such a long wait, why file a family-based visa petition now?”

Other Changes.

The bill also outlines many other changes, including changes to the H-1B visa program, and creation of Guest Worker and Farm Worker programs.

The annual allocation of H-1B visas would increase from 65,000 to 110,000 per year, with the potential to increase to 180,000 per year if needed.

A Guest Worker or “W” visa program would grant 20,000 visas per year to eligible low-skilled workers, with the potential to increase to 75,000 per year.

Undocumented agricultural workers who have made a “substantial prior commitment to agricultural work in the United States” would be eligible for a temporary status through an “Agricultural Card,” which would eventually replace the H-2A visa program.

While the Senate bill is a step in the right direction, it still includes a long and winding path to residency, and it remains to be seen whether it will actually get off the ground.

To stay updated on immigration reform, pay attention to the news, and follow us on twitter @beanlloydllp.


Big News- Firm Merger and Consolidation to Oakland!

Bean + Lloyd, LLP and Park & Taylor has formed Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP

San Francisco Office has Moved to Join Oakland Office

We are thrilled to announce the merger of Bean + Lloyd, LLP and Park & Taylor, two highly respected Bay Area immigration law firms, which took place in April 2021. The new firm, Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP, combines decades of immigration experience in the subfields of family-based immigration, removal defense, asylum, humanitarian visas, and criminal immigration.

Additionally, the former Park & Taylor office in San Francisco has moved to join the Oakland office at 110 11th Street, Oakland, CA 94607. While the office is temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19, our staff is still available by phone, email, and text message, and all consultations and client appointments will continue by phone or video. We look forward to physically reopening our expanded and improved Oakland office when it is safe to do so.

Partners Jesse Lloyd and Anita Mukherji, both certified specialists in immigration and nationality law by the California State Bar, lead the firm. Karyn Taylor has joined as Of Counsel, and Angela Bean remains as partner and Anna von Herrmann as Of Counsel. The Park & Taylor staff have brought their two decades of experience to the team.

Please contact us at (510) 433-1900 or www.beanlloyd.com with any inquiries.

¡Anuncio importante- Unión y Consolidación de Dos Bufetes! Bean + Lloyd, LLP y Park & Taylor han Formado Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP

La oficina de Park & Taylor se ha mudado para unirse a la oficina de Oakland

Estamos emocionados de anunciar la unión entre Bean + Lloyd, LLP y Park & Taylor, dos bufetes de inmigración muy respetados en el Área de la Bahía, lo cual ocurrió en abril del 2021. El bufete nuevo, Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP, combina décadas de experiencia en inmigración familiar, defensa de deportación, asilo, visas humanitarias, e inmigración criminal.

Además, la antigua oficina de Park & Taylor en San Francisco se ha mudado para unirse a la oficina de Oakland en 110 11th Street, Oakland, CA 94607. Nuestra oficina está temporalmente cerrada al público debido a COVID-19. Nuestro personal seguirá estando disponible por teléfono, correo electrónico y texto. Todas las consultas y citas de clientes, continuarán por teléfono o videollamada. Estamos emocionados para reabrir físicamente nuestra ampliada y mejorada oficina de Oakland cuando sea seguro hacerlo.

Los socios Jesse Lloyd y Anita Mukherji, dos especialistas certificados en ley de inmigración y nacionalidad por la Barra del Estado de California, dirigen el bufete. Karyn Taylor es abogada retirada pero se ha unido al bufete, Angela Bean permanece como socia y Anna von Herrmann sigue siendo parte del bufete. El personal de Park & Taylor ha compartido sus dos décadas de experiencia con el equipo.

Por favor contáctenos al (510) 433-1900 o www.beanlloyd.com con sus preguntas.

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