© 2013 Attorney Farhad Sethna
I have been covering issues involving immigration reform on my blog at blog.immigration-america.com, please visit it for further updates.
An eight member bipartisan group of Senators introduced the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 ”. The proposed legislation is very lengthy and detailed. It cannot be covered in just one article. Therefore, I will be covering this legislation in a series of articles, specifically starting with the section on legalization of undocumented aliens who are present in the United States.
A couple of cautions: first of all, this is only a proposal. Second, this is a proposal introduced only in the Senate. The House of Representatives has to then pass a bill along similar lines. The two bills need to be reconciled (compromise) in a joint committee of the House and the Senate. Thereafter, the final version as agreed will be sent to the President for signature. Therefore, this proposal is still far from reality. However, millions of people are hoping that meaningful immigration reform passes sometime soon.
This article will briefly cover three main aspects of the immigration reform proposal that tend to be the first and foremost questions that are on people’s minds: (1) When can I apply? (2) How much will it cost? And (3) How long will it take?
When can I apply?
In order to grant any kind of legalization status to the millions of undocumented aliens, the Senate proposal first mandates that there be a strong and highly effective border security strategy. Before any undocumented aliens will be permitted to apply for any kind of legal status, the Secretary of Homeland Security must submit a certification to the Congress that the Southern border has been adequately fenced and that there is an effectiveness rate of 90% or higher for intercepting and returning alien migrants attempting to enter the United States.
Therefore, until these triggers are met, aliens cannot apply for adjustment to “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (RPI) legal status. Undocumented aliens must show they have been in the USA on or before December 31, 2011 in order to seek RPI status.
How much will it cost?
The Senate proposal imposes a penalty of $500 for the initial application which will be valid for six years, another $500 penalty after that for the extension, and $1000 penalty to be paid at the time the Registered Provisional Immigrant status can be converted to Permanent Immigrant status. Therefore, there will be a penalty of at least $2000 through the process. In addition, there will be regular USCIS processing fees at each stage of the application. Those fees are currently about $1800 for waiver and adjustment of status applications, which may be similar benefits to what undocumented aliens will apply for.
How long will the process take?
As you have already seen, for the process to even get started there has to be agreement between the House and the Senate and the President has to sign the bill. Thereafter, the Department of Homeland Security has to take substantial steps to secure the southern border. The DHS also has to set up a much more efficient entry-exit system to track all visitors entering to the USA to ensure that they also depart the USA. Only once those systems are set up, and the Secretary of Homeland Security has certified to Congress that the systems are operational and in place, then will undocumented aliens be permitted to apply for RPI status. Therefore it could be a while.
In subsequent articles I will cover the disqualifications to applying for RPI status, special provisions for “Dreamers” and agricultural workers, and immigrant priority and petition category changes.
For further updates on the Senate proposal and any breaking developments, please visit my blog at blog.immigration-america.com.
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.