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How Will Immigration Reform Affect Me?

July 2010
How Will Immigration Reform Affect Me?

The most frequent question asked by clients to their immigration lawyers in the last several months is the question posed above. There is no great answer, but it is always good to be optimistically prepared. The recently proposed immigration reform bill, called Real Enforcement with Practical Answers for Immigration Reform (REPAIR), was introduced a few months ago. This text contains provisions for addressing the immigration status of undocumented foreign nationals. Besides the enforcement provisions, the proposal requires clearing out the current family-based (FB) and employment-based (EB) green card backlogs. It also requires registration but eventual status for undocumented aliens through a phased project.

The clearance of visa backlogs is a very welcome relief for those people waiting for so many years for their visas to become available, as per the Visa Bulletin printed below. The FB and EB categories will move forward as the backlog is cleared, so the best thing people in these categories can do is prepare themselves by gathering required documentation when their dates become current.

Although this is just proposed legislation and not yet a law, it does not hurt to take these suggested steps: For FB and EB cases, gather the copies of everything that was previously filed (if you have lost the paperwork, you may request a copy through the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act]. Also, gather original birth and marriage certificates, so those can be presented to the government office when needed. These documents should be obtained in the original language, as well as English translation.

In EB cases, it is good to keep in touch with the sponsoring company’s contact to ensure the job title and salary is in compliance with the Labor Certification. If either of these is substantially different, or if the company structure has changed, you should consult with an immigration lawyer to see if any action is required on your part. In addition, if your sponsor has changed, you may still be eligible under the portability laws. Also, gather your diplomas, experience letters, W2s, etc. to prove your eligibility under the EB case, even if the I-140 has already been approved.

The reform bill also includes a registration provision for undocumented people, as follows: All illegal immigrants living in the U.S. must come forward to register, be screened, and, if eligible, complete other requirements to earn legal status, including paying taxes. These criteria are intended to exclude individuals who threaten public safety or national security and to ensure that those individuals taking advantage of the program intend to stay in the U.S., integrate into society, and become productive, tax-paying members of the community. Once they complete registration, they will be considered for Lawful Prospective Immigrant (LPI) status, which gives authorization to work legally and to travel outside the United States.

Unauthorized immigrants will be ineligible for LPI status if they: 1) have been convicted of three or more misdemeanors or any felony punishable by a prison term of more than one year; 2) engaged in the persecution of others; 3) are inadmissible for national security or criminal grounds; 4) are in the country in an authorized immigrant status; or 5) entered the country illegally after the bill’s enactment date.

After 8 years (when the current visa backlogs will be cleared), LPIs may petition for adjustment to LPR status. Requirements for adjustment to LPR status include: demonstrating basic citizenship skills, learning English, payment of all taxes, fees, and fines, and registration (if eligible) for the Selective Service.

The legalization components of the DREAM Act and AgJobs will also be included.


FAMILY India                      Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st 08Apr05 01Apr05
2A 01Jul08 01Jul08
2B 01May03 01May03
3rd 01Sep01 01Sep01
4th 01Jan01 01Jan01

EMPLOYMENT India           Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st Current Current
2nd 01Oct05 Current
3rd 22Nov01 15Aug03
Other 01Jun01 01Jun01
4th Current Current
5th Current Current

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