Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Immigration Reform Proposal Hits the U.S. Senate


Well,  Folks, as predicted right here in www.insideins.com, it looks like immigration reform is coming and coming quickly, as witnessed by the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, which was introduced today into the U.S. Senate.

After sifting through the various news accounts regarding this Bill, here are what appear to be a number of it’s major provisions:

  1. The family-based fourth preference category for siblings of U. S. Citizens will be discontinued, but anyone already “in line”, by virtue of having an approved visa petition in their behalf by a U.S. Citizen brother or sister, will be issued an immediate visa number to immigrate. 
  1. The family-based second preference visa category for spouses and children unmarried children of lawful permanent residents will be moved into a non-quota category, thereby eliminating the need to obtain a visa number in order to immigrate. In effect, they will be treated like immediate relatives (spouses, children and parents) of U.S. citizens are today. 
  1. Extra visa numbers which would have been used by these family-based second and fourth preference categories, will go to other categories, and, thereby, lessen their wait for a visa number. 
  1. The family-based third preference (married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens) will be amended to limit this benefit to sons and daughters who are under 31 years of age. 
  1. The bill would provide a Registered Provisional Immigrant status for any qualifying illegal immigrant who applied for, and was granted, such status. Persons granted this provisional status would have to remain in such status for 10 years before they were granted lawful permanent residence in the U.S. Provisional status would require the undocumented immigrant to pay a fee of $1,000 to gain such status, and an additional $1,000 when granted lawful permanent residence. They would also have to pass at least 2 background reviews, one at initial filing, and one after being a provisional resident for 6 years, and pay any back taxes owed. Persons granted lawful permanent residence under this provision would be eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship after being a permanent resident for 3 years. 
  1. The cutoff date for undocumented immigrants to benefit from the Senate bill will be entry to the U.S. by December 31, 2011. Anyone entering after that date will not be eligible; however, spouses and children of Registered Provisional Immigrants who are in the U.S. would be eligible to be petitioned for derivative provisional status, regardless of when they entered the U.S. 
  1. Persons granted Registered Provisional Immigrant status would be able to work anywhere they wanted and to travel in and out of the U.S.   
  1. The requirements for provisional legal residence in the U.S. for illegal immigrants who entered this country as children with their parents (DREAM Act  children) would be less stringent; they would only need to be in Registered Provisional Immigrant  status for 5 years to file for Lawful Permanent Residence, and would be immediately eligible to file for U.S. citizenship once lawful permanent residence was granted. 
  1. Persons who qualify for a special Agricultural Worker provision of this Bill would have the same requirements for provisional residence as Dream Act  children. 
  1. The bill repeals the current Diversity Visa Program (DV). 
  1.  The bill introduces the concept of a Merit Based Visa, which provides a limited number of visas for persons based upon points they accrue as a result of their education, length of residence in the U.S., and employment. 
  1. With regards to the H-1B program, the visa cap for these workers would increase from the current 65,000 to 110,000, and could increase as high as 180,000, based upon a demand for highly skilled workers. As a compromise there would be  a renewed emphasis on compliance and solidification of the H-1B dependency provisions. 
  1. There will be a new W Nonimmigrant classification for low skill workers. 
  1. The bill would require the mandatory use of the E-Verify system by all employers to verify that employees are authorized to work in the U.S. 
  1. The bill would also require increased border security be in place before any “amnesty” provisions went into effect. 

As always, your comments, concerns, and feedback are welcomed.

Ben Ferro

benferro@insideins.com