The U.S. Senate in mid-April 2013 introduced Immigration Bill S.744, also known as the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.” The following is a synopsis detailing some of the lesser-known provisions of the bill, intended to benefit applicants who could acquire the title of Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI).
1. U.S. Military Laws will allow an RPI to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. Currently, only lawful permanent residents (LPR) and U.S. citizens (USC) may enlist in the U.S. Military.
2. Individuals with RPI status will be eligible to travel outside the U.S. and gain legal re-entry into the country. A legal re-entry will allow those married to USC spouses to petition for a green card within the U.S., removing the risks of returning to their home countries for an interview in the U.S. Consulate. This streamlined procedure prevents the separation of families.
3. Certain RPI applicants will be eligible to apply for deportation waivers within the U.S. and in some cases, depending on the deportation date, even from abroad.
4. Some applicants who in the past have given false information or false documents may be eligible for a waiver as well.
5. The Senate’s proposed Immigration plan disqualifies applicants with one felony and with 3 or more misdemeanors. However, some may be eligible for humanitarian waivers if they have a USC or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse, parent or child.
6. Currently an applicant seeking political asylum must file for asylum within one year of arriving in the U.S. This one-year limitation will be lifted and an applicant may apply for political asylum even if he or she has resided in the U.S. for more than one year.
7. A lawful permanent resident (LPR) must currently wait 2 to 3 years to obtain a green card for their spouse or children under the age of 21 due to quota system backlogs. The new plan would eliminate these backlogs and expedite these types of applications.
8. Students who took advantage of Deferred Action (DACA) (implemented on August 15, 2012) will also benefit from this proposed law. DACA recipients will have a simplified process for obtaining LPR status. Upon becoming LPRs they will immediately be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, unlike their counterparts who will be forced to wait a minimum of 3 years (after obtaining a green card) to apply for U.S. citizenship.
9. The process to obtain RPI status will most likely be completed within the U.S., allowing applicants to submit their applications and undergo their interviews while in the U.S. This would reconstruct our current system, in which applicants are forced to travel to their home countries and undergo interviews in those respective U.S. consulates.
10. Drunk driving will be elevated as new grounds for deportability; applicable to those in the U.S. with legal status, while simultaneously also acting as new grounds for inadmissibility for those wanting to immigrate to the U.S. Those with 3 or more drunk-driving convictions will be ineligible to obtain a green card and those currently with a green card could lose it.
The bill is close to 1,000 pages and in this article I merely attempt to highlight some of the lesser-known provisions that could impact millions.
Soon the House of Representatives will introduce their version of an immigration reform bill. Once both houses vote and iron out their differences we could see passage of immigration reform to change and correct outdated laws that do not adequately address the needs of this nation and its immigrants.
Alma Rosa Nieto is a Los-Angeles-based expert immigration legal analyst for local and national television, radio and print. She is a regular contributor for Telemundo television news.