Senators outlined a more detailed roadmap of what a new American immigration policy would look like today, building on their previous announcement. They’re calling it the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.” It’s a real game changer. While we will continue to read and give you our thoughts on it, here is a preliminary, easy-to-understand summary of the plan:
- It will take at least 6 months, and probably longer, for the government to start a plan to secure the Southern border. Until these plans commence, no one in undocumented status can apply for anything.
REGISTERED PROVISION IMMIGRANT (RPI) STATUS
- Once the border security plan is underway, undocumented aliens will be able to apply for the new “Registered Provision Immigrant” or “RPI” Status. This is a new status that does not currently exist within the immigration law.
- RPI is an “adjustment” of status, which means it will be possible to apply for it without having to leave the United States.
- To qualify for RPI, you have to have been in the US since 12/31/2011, pay a $500 fine (except for “Dreamers”), pay (some) taxes, and not have more than 3 misdemeanors or 1 felony.
- Spouses and children in the US can get derivative RPI status.
- Even people who have been deported or are in removal proceedings may be allowed to apply for RPI status. Once granted, it will last for 6 years, renewable again (with another $500 penalty).
- After 10 years of RPI status, assuming the border is secure, people can apply for regular LPR status (and pay another $1000 penalty) as long as they can show they paid all taxes due and have a clean criminal record.
- Two exceptions: Dreamers and agricultural workers. They will be exempt from the $500 penalties, and only will have to wait 5 years in RPI status before being able to file for their green cards, and be immediately thereafter eligible for citizenship.
LEGAL IMMIGRATION REFORM
- On the family side, no more will there be 5 categories of preference petitions. US citizens and permanent residents will be able to sponsor their spouses and children with no wait.
- But US citizens will lose the ability to petition for their siblings 18 months after enactment.
- There will be no more diversity visa (visa lottery) program after FY2014.
- On the employment side, EB-1 petitions will now be always current ; EB-2 and EB-3 will be expanded from 28.6% to 40% each of available visas, with the remaining going from 7.1% to 10% apiece to EB-4 and EB-5. This should eliminate the lengthy employment-based backlogs, especially for China and India.
- There will be a new “startup visa” for entrepreneurs who want to start new companies in the US.
- No sooner than 2018, a new “merit-based visa” will be available for people who can “score points” based on their length of time in the US, educational level, and skills. This is similar to the current system in place in Canada.
- The H-1B cap will increase to 110,000 and can float as high as 180,000 if the market demands it.
- H-1B employers will be required to pay significantly higher wages to H-1B employees, and there will be a much more complex labor certification that involves offering the jobs to US workers first, just as is currently done under the permanent labor certification (PERM) system.
- H-4 spouses may be eligible for work permits, so long as the alien’s home country provides reciprocal benefits to spouses of US workers.
- F-1 visas for students in a bachelor’s or higher degree programs will become dual intent. No more proving intent to go back home after graduation.
- A new W visa for lower skilled workers will be created for jobs in construction, farming, janitorial services, etc. To get it, the job must be with a registered employer for a registered position. Employers must obtain these certifications (both for themselves and the jobs they seek to fill) before sponsoring W nonimmigrants.
- Spouses and children of W visa holders may join. It will last for 3 years and need to be renewed thereafter for so long as the worker is not unemployed for more than 60 days. Travel outside the US is authorized.
- The Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act (AgJOBS) would become law, allowing certain undocumented farm workers to apply for an “AgCard” status and lawful permanent residence, with only a $400 fine
Read the outline of the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013”. And please, as always, be on guard for notario fraud!