Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Immigration Reform Newsletter

On April 17, a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (totaling 844 pages) was introduced into the US Senate. The bill would result in the most sweeping changes to US immigration law in 50 years. It would provide legal status (called Register Provisional Immigrant status “RPI”) for most undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US since December 30, 2011, allow for the return of many previously deported individuals, eliminate the 1-year asylum deadline, shorten backlogs to the current waiting lists for family and employment based applications, permit many individuals on family based waiting lists  waiting outside the US to come temporarily to the US, eliminate several family based immigration categories and create a new “merit based” green card.

We are so confident that the immigration reform will become law this year that we are willing to offer our clients a money back guarantee if you open a file with our office before June 1, 2013 In addition, the proposed changes to the law should encourage individuals to file family based and employment based petitions NOW before the law changes! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. IS IMMIGRATION REFORM REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN?                                                                         
A. Almost certainly, YES. The last major obstacles seem to be melting away. There appears to be no organized opposition to the bill and even the most outspoken opponents seem to agree to some reform that will give legal status to millions of undocumented individuals in the US.

Q. WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN?                                                                                                                                        

A. Our best estimates are that it will likely happen before Labor Day. Even so, there will be a 6 month phase in period for undocumented immigrants. We hope to file RPI applications by early next year.

 Q. WHAT IS THE RUSH TO DO SOMETHING NOW?                                                                                        

A. Once the filing period begins, there will only be a 1 year application period. Remember, as many as 11 million people may apply under this program. In addition, you may lose certain benefits if you do not file for them before the law is enacted.

Q. WHAT DOES THE NEW BILL PROVIDE?                                                                                             

A.  Obviously we cannot review 844 pages, but you should know the following:

·        Individuals in unlawful status may apply for legal status known as Registered Provisional Immigration Status if (1) they have lived in the US since before December 31, 2011 (2) have been physically present in the US since 12/31/2011 and (3) have not been convicted of an aggravated felony, any felony or 3 misdemeanors
·        Filing for the RPI status will begin 6 months after the law is signed IF the Secretary of Homeland Security certifies that the southern border has been secured
·        RPIs will be eligible for work cards and travel permission
·        The application period will be for one year with a possible 1 year extension
·        There will be a $2,000 penalty fee (in addition to an undetermined filing fee) payable as follows: $500 with the initial filing, $500 after 6 years when the RPI status must be renewed and $1000 after 10 years when the applicant can apply for a green card.
·        Eliminates the age cap for DREAMers and will permit DREAMers to apply for a green card after 5 years.
·        Eliminates the 1-year filing deadline for asylum applicants. Those previously granted withholding, rather than asylum, can return to Court for a modification. (If approved, this would permit them to travel and bring in spouses and children.)
·        The bill would eliminate family based backlogs by:

o   Including the spouses and children under 21 of permanent resident as Immediate Relatives and thereby making them immediately eligible for permanent residency.

o   Eliminating the 4th Preference for brothers and sisters of US citizens.

o   Providing that married children of US citizens must be under 31 on the date of filing the petition

·        Reducing the backlog for employment based categories by providing that spouses and children of the primary applicant will no longer be counted against the cap. (This alone should reduce the wait by several years!)
·        Allowing individuals outside the US who were here before 12/31/2011 and were deported for non-criminal offenses to apply to re-enter the US if they are the spouse, parent or child or of a US citizen, permanent resident or DREAM Act recipient.
·        Creating a new “Merit Based” point system after 5 years that would grant permanent residency based on an individual’s education, employment, US family members and other considerations
·        Providing a new path to residency for investors

Q WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?                                                                                                                                                     
A. We suggest several things: (1) If you can file a family based or employment based petition you should file it NOW.  If you wait until after the law passes it may be too late. (2) Continue to pursue any applications that have already been filed.   Waiting periods for approved petitions will decrease resulting in a green card sooner than RPI status, and (3) Get your documents together. This includes birth certificates, passports, tax returns, school records and other proof of residence in the US. It also means that you should obtain a copy of your file from immigration, particularly if you have a prior deportation order. This process often takes 6 months.     




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