Musings on Immigration
Everyone has heard of the new Senate Immigration bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIMA), proposed by the bi-partisan Gang of 8. The key to remember is that this is a proposal, NOT a law. Nothing has changed yet. Our current immigration laws, as bad as they are, are still in place. There is no need to run out and hire an attorney, there is no one to pay to work on a case under this bill, and there is no need to panic about your qualifications. Before BSEOIMA becomes law there will be many changes, some good some bad, and the only law that matters is that one that ends up on the President’s desk for signature. That said, let’s look at some key points of BSEOIMA.
First, everyone has focused on the newly proposed Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status for undocumented and overstayed immigrants. RPI is a 10 year path to permanent residence that comes with interim work permits and travel permission, but with a $2,000 fine, regular filing fees (probably at least $1,000), the need to learn English and pass a civics test, have no felonies and maximum three misdemeanors and a requirement that ALL back taxes are paid!
The take away: to get ready for reform, have your friends and family who might apply for RPI save their money, meet with accountants to file and/or fix back taxes (at least 3 years and possibly more), see an experienced immigration defense attorney, and learn English!
Second, and possibly more important than the RPI status, are the substantial modifications to our current legal immigration system, including a new “start up” visas, a counting of only principal applicants and not family toward the total number of immigrant visa numbers, an increase in business immigration numbers, an elimination of the diversity lottery, and many other good immigration changes that help legal immigrants immigrate faster to the US. There is a trade off of family immigration numbers with the elimination of the brother and sister category, and perhaps the married children of citizen category. But it is not an immediate elimination. The key is EVERYONE in the “line” for legal immigration will obtain permanent residence before anyone in RPI status.
The take away: file applications for your family NOW if they qualify under any category, even if the “line” appears long. It will be a lot shorter than RPI!
Third, there are over 400 different new waivers in this bill. BSEOIMA includes forgiveness to people with deportation orders, permission to return to the US if previously deported, lowered standards for waivers, new waivers for false claims to citizenship, and many other positive and necessary modifications to our overly stringent immigration laws.
The take away: if you or your relative have deportation orders, or have been deported, meet with an experienced immigration attorney, get your immigration files, and plan for reform now.
Reform will not happen for many months, but WE have to make it happen. Call your Senators and Congressman today (and tomorrow) at 202-224-3121 and insist that they support Immigration Reform!