Immigration Reform: Path to Citizenship (Part Two)

Posted by Matthew Green | Jan 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

As I wrote in my previous blog, an immigration reform bill (S. 744) was introduced in Congress last year. The bill was successfully passed in the Senate, but failed to progress further with the House. The bill needs passage by both chambers to become law. If the House passes an amended version of the bill, the two versions will need to be reconciled.

In my previous post, I began reviewing the sections of S. 744 that address the Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status. As a reminder, the first three topics these sections cover are: (1) Eligibility and requirements; (2) Addressing the special needs of undocumented immigrants; and (3) The initial timeline related to signing up for the relief.

In this entry, I'd like to discuss additional considerations related to this proposed law.

(4) RPI Status Time Frame. If an undocumented immigrant is granted RPI status, he or she will have that protection for six years. After the initial six years, the immigrant is eligible to have his or her status renewed under certain circumstances. The immigrant must be able to show that he or she has been able to maintain regular employment and has an income or resources not less than 100% of the poverty level. An exception may be made in the following situations: full-time school enrollment, maternity leave, medical leave, physical or mental disabilities, children under the age of 21, and in an event of extreme hardship. When applying for RPI renewal, the immigrant must participate in further background checks and pay the required fees.

(5) Once Granted RPI Status, The Immigrant May Be Eligible For Lawful Permanent Resident Status. An immigrant who has achieved RPI status is subsequently eligible for Lawful Permanent Resident status after maintaining RPI status for a minimum of ten years. Further, he or she will be granted permanent residency once all other applications submitted before the enactment of the bill have been reviewed and processed. The applicant must also be able to show that he or she has RPI status, pays taxes, meets English proficiency requirements, passes further background checks, and will pay the necessary fees.

Similar to the renewal requirement, to achieve Lawful Permanent Resident status, the applicant must be able to show that he or she has maintained regular employment. In this situation, the law allows for gaps for as much as 60 days at a time. Without regular employment, the immigrant may still be eligible if he or she is able to show an income or resources of 125% of the poverty line during the RPI period. Again, exceptions may apply and they include: full-time students, children under the age of 21, physical or mental disability, and a showing of extreme hardship.

(6) RPI Immigrants and Naturalization. RPI immigrants are eligible to become U.S. citizens after maintaining permanent residency status for three years. This typically means that if you are an undocumented immigrant who qualifies for and is granted RPI status, you will be required to wait a minimum of thirteen years before becoming a U.S. citizen.

(7) Background Checks and Security Measures Associated with RPI Status. When applying for RPI status, the immigrant should expect to submit biographic and biometric data. Along with that information, the applicant may be required to participate in an interview and complete further background checks.

Please continue to check my blog for additional pieces related to S. 744. This proposed reform has a lot to offer and it is important to be aware of the details. My law practice is dedicated to criminal defense and immigration. Often times, these areas intersect and it is in your best interest to work with professionals who are skilled in both. Contact my office for help with your legal matters today!

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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