Specifics On Registered Provisional Immigrant Status
© Farhad Sethna, Attorney 2013
In a previous article also posted to my blog at blog.immigration-america.com, I answered these questions: When can I apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status? How much will it cost? and How long will it take?
Now, remember the basic rule: to apply, an undocumented alien must prove that he or she was in the United States on or before December 31, 2011.
In this article, I will explore the following issues pertaining to RPI applications as set forth in the Senate proposal: (1) the benefits of seeking and being granted RPI status; (2) disqualifications from obtaining RPI status; and (3) the benefits of having US citizen immediate relatives.
Benefits of RPI status:
Under the Senate’s current proposal, RPI status offers a significant and fundamentally important range of benefits to undocumented aliens. Chief among these would be receipt of a employment authorization document (EAD). This would in turn allow the alien to apply for a legal, valid social security number (SSN)in their own name and further, to then start paying taxes and receive the full protection of the US and state governments with regard to working conditions, freedom from exploitation, etc. Having a valid EAD and SSN would enable an alien to apply for a valid, legal Driver’s license or state ID card.
Travel outside the USA while in RPI status:
Another important benefit of RPI status is that under the current proposal, aliens in RPI status can leave the USA for trips abroad, and they will be allowed to return to the USA. At present, an undocumented alien who leaves the USA cannot return legally unless he or she secures a visa and can reenter under some immigrant or non-immigrant status. The permission to travel and reenter the USA while in RPI status will be a boon to many undocumented aliens who have been separated from parents and family for years, if not decades. Given that the Senate proposal envisions that undocumented aliens will remain in RPI status for at least 10 years, it makes sense to permit RPI status aliens to travel to see family and conduct their personal and business affairs overseas during such time.
Proving Physical Presence in the USA:
I fully expect that the type of proof required to prove presence in the United States will be very similar to the proof required under both the “Legal Immigration and Family Equity” (LIFE Act), signed by President Clinton in December 2000, and the administration policy on “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (“DACA”). This would include copies of paystubs, tax returns, rent receipts, any other documentation with a name and a date, official records from schools, colleges, universities or hospitals, doctor’s records, credit card receipts, bank statements, letters, and any other document- preferably governmental or corporate that would show at least the name and any other identifying information.
What would disqualify an alien from obtaining RPI status?
First of all, in order to apply for RPI status, an alien would have to prove that he or she was present in the United States on or before December 31, 2011, and remained present continuously in the United States upto and through the date of the application. There is no provision for “brief casual and innocent”absences after December 31, 2011, as has been the case with other applications for relief, notably Cancellation of Removal.
In addition, as expected, undocumented aliens may be rejected for RPI status because they may have a criminal conviction.
These include aggravated felonies as defined under immigration law, felonies under state and federal law, conviction of three or more misdemeanors, conviction of an offense under foreign law, unlawful voting, and any other “criminal, national security, public health, or morality”grounds.
Benefits of having immediate relatives who are U.S. Citizens:
Showing such family ties would strengthen the RPI application by demonstrating a connection to the United States. Also, an eligible U.S. citizen relative may be able to file an immigrant visa petition for the undocumented alien and if the priority date becomes current, apply for some other form of immigration relief.
Overall, the Senate immigration reform proposal is up to this point likely to be a very demanding experience for those who seek RPI status; however, if the proposal becomes law, it stands to benefit many millions of undocumented aliens. For a great many, it will be the only means to legalize their status in the USA, and therefore well worth the effort.
In future articles, I will discuss the allocation of immigrant visa numbers to RPI and “regular”applicants. I will also discuss the types of proof that may be useful to meet other requirements for RPI status.
For further updates on the Senate proposal and any breaking developments, please bookmark and continue to visit my blog at blog.immigration-america.com.
Copyright, Farhad Sethna, Attorney, 2013
About the author: Attorney Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 20 years. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. With offices in Akron and Dover, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases. Our number is: (330)-384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.
This is only general legal information. Please consult a qualified immigration attorney for advice on your specific case.