Obama’s Proposed Legislation on Immigration to the United States

A bipartisan group of senators has presented a proposal for overhauling the US immigration system. The proposal includes new border security, more stringent checks on immigrants with visas, and programs to help businesses verify the legal status of their employees.  President Obama has submitted his own immigration reform proposal which would allow illegal immigrants to become lawful permanent residents in eight years.  Under the Senate plan undocumented aliens would earn probationary legal status only which would allow them to live and work legally in the United States. They would not be allowed to obtain permanent residency until certain enforcement measures are put into place. The proposal includes new border security, more stringent checks on immigrants with visas and programs to help businesses verify the legal status of their employees.

WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION?

The proposed legislation would allow current undocumented immigrants with clean records to achieve legal residency after paying a fine and back taxes. Under the Senate plan, undocumented aliens could become legal immigrants only after certain enforcement measures are certified as complete.  Under President Obama’s plan, Illegal immigrants could become legal residents in eight years.

The Senate proposal would offer a green card to immigrants who received a PhD or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering or math from an American university (Known as the STEM disciplines). The Senators also declared their intention to reduce backlogs in the family and employment visa categories.

WHEN WOULD THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION TAKE EFFECT?

It should be noted that the reforms being discussed are proposed legislation only and have not been enacted into law at this time. For updates on the status of this legislation and how it might affect you, please call JSC Immigration Law Office at (949) 228-3922 or Email us.

HOW WILL I BE AFFECTED BY THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION?

The proposed legislation would provide provisionary legal status to undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the United States. However, individuals who do not qualify for this relief could be placed into removal proceedings.

Applicants will be required to pass a background check, pay a fine, and back taxes to earn probationary legal status. Individuals with probationary legal status will be required to pass a criminal background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics, and demonstrate a history of employment in the United States to have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency. Any individuals who are deemed inadmissible could face immediate deportation.  For that reason, if the proposed legislation is enacted, applicants should consult a qualified immigration attorney before applying. This is especially true for applicants who owe back taxes, have criminal records or cannot demonstrate a history of employment.  Feel free to consult JSC Immigration Law Office at (949) 228-3922 or Email us at askattorney@gmail.com

HOW WILL THE PROPOSALS AFFECT LEGAL IMMIGRATION?

To attract more skilled workers, the Senate proposal offers permanent residency to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master’s degree in science, technology or math from an American university. Individuals with advanced degrees should consult our offices at (949) 228-3922 or Email us to be informed of the latest developments.

The Senators also declared their intention to reduce backlogs in the family and employment visa categories and to make additional visas available to agricultural workers.

WHAT TYPE OF ENFORCEMENT MEASURES WOULD BE REQUIRED TO BE PUT INTO PLACE?

The proposals would require completion of an entry-exit system that tracks whether all persons entering the U.S. on temporary visas via airports and seaports have left the country as required by law. Employers would be required to use the electronic E- verify system. Holders of a probationary green card could not obtain permanent residence status until these enforcement measures are completed.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SENATE PLAN AND THE OBAMA PLAN?

The Obama plan would allow illegal immigrants to become permanent residents after 8 years of probationary status. The Senate bill would allow individuals on probationary status to obtain permanent residency only after certain enforcement measures are put into place. In other respects, the Obama and Senate plans are similar.

The Obama plan would allow applicants to pass a criminal background check, submit biometric information and pay fees to qualify for the new visa. If approved, they would be allowed to legally reside in the United States for four years, work and leave the country for short periods of time.  After four years, the applicants could apply for an extension.

Illegal immigrants would be disqualified from the program if they were convicted of a crime that led to a prison term of at least one year, three or more different crimes that resulted in a total of 90 days in jail or if they “committed any offense abroad that if committed in the United States would render the alien inadmissible or removable from the United States “. They would be given a new identification card to show as proof of their legal status in the country.

To combat fraud, the draft bill proposes a new Social Security Card that is “fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant and wear resistant.” The Social Security Administration would be required to issue the cards in two years.  The Obama proposal expands the E- verify program that employers use to check the immigration status of people seeking new jobs.

Under both the Obama and Senate plans, applicants with criminal records would be subject to deportation. Therefore, it is important for any prospective applicant with a criminal record to consult a qualified immigration attorney if either the Senate or Obama proposals become law.

Editor: John Levant

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One comment

  1. A new bipartisan task force on immigration reform led by Republicans Condoleezza Rice and Haley Barbour and Democrats Henry Cisneros and Ed Rendell still has a number of issues to resolve, including what may be the most challenging: whether undocumented immigrants currently in the country should be given a pathway to citizenship by filing US citizenship application.

    Members’ lack of consensus on certain immigration issues is precisely what makes the group important, according to organizers from the Bipartisan Policy Center. Barbour is a former Republican governor of Mississippi; Cisneros was a Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Bill Clinton; and Ed Rendell is a former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania. They will join with about a dozen other members, yet to be announced, to advocate for immigration reform.

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