Immigration Reform: Path to Citizenship (Part One)

Posted by Matthew Green | Jan 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

The term “immigration reform” has been used quite a bit recently and a related bill was introduced to Congress in 2013. The bill, which was introduced in the Senate on April 16, 2013, subsequently passed the chamber, but failed to progress further with the House.

In total, 301 amendments to the bill were proposed by Senate committee members. One-third of those amendments were considered and 92 were incorporated. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed its version of the bill in May with a vote of 13-5. During the month of June, debate began on the Senate floor.

After the bill was passed in the Senate, it was sent to the House. In most situations, the second chamber will not automatically pass the bill as is, but will instead offer its own amendments. If the House approves a version of the bill that is different from the Senate's version, the two will need to be reconciled.

This immigration reform bill is known as S. 744 and is made up of a variety of different components. The most controversial section of the bill speaks to Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status. Specifically, this topic is covered in sections 2101 and 2102 of S. 744. Below are some of the key points associated with the bill and the RPI program.

(1) Eligibility and Requirements. If an undocumented immigrant has been in the United States since December, 31, 2011, he or she may be eligible to apply for RPI status. To qualify, the undocumented immigrant must pay his or her assessed taxes, pass necessary background checks, and pay the appropriate application fees. In addition, the immigrant must not have been convicted of a felony or three or more misdemeanors. Further, other types of offenses will cause a potential applicant to be prohibited from applying for RPI status.

A qualified RPI candidate may also petition for his or her spouse and children. Keep in mind that while this is an attractive form of relief, those receiving RPI status are not permitted to receive certain public benefits. For example, benefits including Medicaid and food stamps will be unavailable to those with RPI status.

(2) The Program's Sensitivity Toward Undocumented Immigrants. This section of the bill seems to be particularly attuned to the needs of undocumented immigrants. Currently, many undocumented immigrants who are initially eligible for RPI status may be subsequently disqualified because of immigration law violations. If granted RPI status, certain grounds of inadmissibility or other conditions would not apply.

(3) Timeline. Undocumented immigrants may begin applying for RPI status if and when S. 744 becomes law. However, S. 744 allows the government one full year to pass before regulations related to the program must be published.

These three examples are just a portion of the RPI section of S. 744. Continue to check my blog for future pieces discussing even more areas of the RPI status and S. 744 as a whole. As an immigration attorney, I have devoted my practice to this area of law and would be happy to meet with you to discuss your own immigration matters.

About the Author

Matthew Green

Managing Attorney. The Law Offices of Matthew H. Green focuses on the aggressive defense of immigrants. A native of Arizona, Mr. Green understands the difficulties that immigrants and families of immigrants face when a loved one is charged with a crime. He knows how frightening it can be for some...

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