June 12, 2013, Newark, NJ- The much anticipated immigration reform bill cleared its first legislative hurdle this week, and is now on the Senate floor for open debate of the approximately 300 amendments added to the bill post-committee. If the reform bill passes it will mean extensive changes to the legal immigration system and new avenues for immigrants to gain legal status.
The reform bill, drafted by the Senate’s “Gang of Eight,” addresses a number of issues including an increase in the number of work visas, deferred deportation for young immigrants, tighter border control and an employment verification system.
Increasing the number of temporary work visas is one of the least controversial reforms proposed in the bill. The proposed new law seeks to increase temporary work visas granted to workers in the science, math, and technology fields incrementally over the next 10 years. Also, there would be more visas available for workers without those qualifications who are often employed in the agricultural and hospitality industries.
The bill also addresses the plight of young immigrants whose parents brought them into the country when they were young children. Many of these young Americans referred to as DREAMers grow up unaware they are undocumented, and have lived in the U.S. nearly their entire lives. The reform bill would allow these young people to apply for temporary status, known as Deferred Action, which will prevent deportation and, give them the chance to pursue citizenship after meeting their visa requirements.
Central to bill is the pathway to citizenship that would allow some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. the opportunity to obtain a green card within ten years. A green card is the prerequisite to becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.
In order to obtain a green card and citizenship, immigrants will be required to pay a $1,000 fine, have cleared a background check showing they have no felony criminal convictions (or certain other criminal convictions such as crimes of moral turpitude), maintain a continuous presence in the U.S., meet specific work requirements and learn English.
The pathway to citizenship won’t be easy so immigrants are likely to they require the assistance of an immigration attorney to explain the numerous requirements and obligations they must meet.
The pathway to citizenship is the key to solving the nation’s most pressing immigration issue: the extraordinarily high number of undocumented immigrants present in the U.S. The current immigration laws are so complex, restrictive and difficult to navigate that many people must and live in the shadows, despite being long-term, law-abiding and productive members of our society.
Opponents to the pathway to citizenship favor lower immigration levels pre-conditions to the pathway to citizenship, such as, border security requirements that could be impossible to attain, that would make the pathway to citizenship nearly impossible to achieve.
Under current immigration law, there are a still number of ways an immigrant can enter and stay in the country legally. The immigration reform does not change the complexity of the process of obtaining visas nor will it eliminate the prospect that non-citizen could be deported. These issues will require you to have a skilled immigration attorney on your side. There are, and will be many imposters, such as notarios, consultants, paralegals and people posing as lawyers trying to take advantage of people following the pathway to citizenship. Anyone seeking to gain legal status should be sure to use an immigration lawyer, and be sure that person is an experienced immigration lawyer. If you need help with any immigration-related issue, Newark attorney Eric Mark will be personally dedicated to your case, assuring your rights are protected and giving you the best chance to obtain your goal.