Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 – Part Two

In Part One of our examination of the bipartisan Senate plan for comprehensive immigration reform, we looked at the provisions regarding increased border enforcement.

Registered Provisional Immigrant Status

Under these provisions of the proposed legislation, individuals “in unlawful status” may apply to adjust to the legal status of Registered Provisional Immigrant (“RPI”) Status.  To qualify for RPI status, the individual:

  • Resided in the US prior to December 31, 2011 and maintained continuous physical presence since then
  • Paid a $500 fine (except for DREAM eligible students) and assessed taxes, on top of the RPI filing fee
  • Can have no aggravated felony, no felony, no more than 2 misdemeanors, no offense under foreign law, never voted and not inadmissible for criminal, national security, public health or “morality” grounds

Benefits of RPI Status

Spouses and children of people in RPI status can obtain derivative benefits.  RPIs can work for any employer and travel outside the U.S.  People who were in the US prior to December 31, 2011 and were deported for non-criminal reasons can reapply to come back in RPI status if they are the spouse or parent of a child who is either (a) a US citizen, (b) an LPR, or (c) a childhood arrival eligible for the DREAM act.

The application period will be for 1 year with the possibility of extension by DHS for an additional 1 year.  People with removal orders or those people in removal proceedings will be RPI eligible unless other prohibitions apply.  RPI status will last 6 years and may be renewed for another 6 years, as long as nothing renders the person deportable.  Individuals in RPI status will pay all processing fees and will not be eligible for federal benefits.  Such RPI beneficiaries will not be eligible for certain tax credits, nor will they be eligible for the new health care law.

Adjusting to LPR status

After 10 years, aliens in RPI status may adjust to LPR status through a new Merit Based System if they (a) maintained continuous physical presence, (b) paid all taxes, (c) worked in the U.S. regularly, (d) demonstrated knowledge of English and Civics; and, paid a $1,000 penalty fee.  In addition, no such adjustments to LPR status can occur until all people currently waiting for family and employmnet green cards as of the date of enactment have had their priority date become current.

Finally, with regards to people in DREAM Act status and the Agricultural Program (discussed in a subsequent post), can get their green cards in 5 years.  DREAM Act students would be eligible for citizenship immediately after they obtain LPR status.

Jim’s Take on RPI Status

I will review the actual provisions dealing with RPI status when the legislation is actually introduced.  But on its face, this seems like a significant step in the right direction.  I get the sense that this is a dream list (no pun intended) with the knowledge that some of these provisions will be stricken from the final bill.  For instance, I think the provision about people already deported coming back in RPI status would be a contentious one which will probably be stricken.

But for the most part, a bill like this would help a tremendous number of clients and potential clients who want to get into legal status and become fully engaged in American life.