The American Immigration Lawyers Association has posted a 17-page outline of the Senate Immigration reform bill, which apparently will be called the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.”
The outline does not provide much clarification regarding the English language requirement discussed in the principles statement released by the “Gang of Eight” Senators last January. In that document, they listed learning English and civics as one of the requirements that undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. would need to meet in order to earn the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency. The section in the bill outline on “Legalization and Legal Immigration” reaffirms this requirement (see second to last paragraph below) without providing any additional details:
Legalization and Legal Immigration
I. Adjustment of Status to Registered Provisional Immigrant Status
- Individuals in unlawful status may apply to adjust their status to the legal status of Registered Provisional Immigrant Status.
- Eligibility Criteria:
- Residence in the United States prior to December 31, 2011 and maintenance of continuous physical presence since then.
- Paid a $500 penalty fee (except for DREAM Act eligible students), and assessed taxes, per adult applicant in addition to all applicable fees required to pay for the cost of processing the application.
- Ineligible if:
- Convicted of an aggravated felony;
- Convicted of a felony;
- Convicted of 3 or more misdemeanors;
- Convicted of an offense under foreign law;
- Unlawfully Voted; and
- Inadmissible for Criminal, National Security, Public Health, or other morality grounds.
- Spouses and children of people in RPI status can be petitioned for as derivatives of the principal applicant (but must be in the United States at the time).
- Immigrants in RPI status can work for any employer and travel outside of the United States
- Individuals outside of the United States who were previously here before December 31, 2011 and were deported for non-criminal reasons can apply to re-enter the United States in RPI status if they are the spouse, of or parent of a child who is, United States citizen or lawful permanent resident; or are a childhood arrival who is eligible for the DREAM Act.
- The Application period will be for 1 year with the possibility of extension by the Secretary for an additional 1 year.
- Individuals with removal orders will be permitted to apply as will aliens currently in removal proceedings.
- RPI status shall last for a 6-year term that is renewable if the immigrant does not commit any acts that would render the alien deportable. Another $500 penalty fee is applicable at this time.
- The Secretary may collect a processing fee from individuals who register for RPI status in an amount that is sufficient to recover all of the costs of implementing the registration program.
- An individual who has been granted RPI status is not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit (as such term is defined in section 403 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1613)).
- A noncitizen granted registered provisional immigrant status under this section shall be considered lawfully present in the United States for all purposes, while such noncitizen remains in such status, except that the noncitizen
- is not entitled to the premium assistance tax credit authorized under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; and
- shall be subject to the rules applicable to individuals not lawfully present that are set forth in section 1402(e) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C. 18071).
- After 10 years, aliens in RPI status may adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident Status through the same Merit Based System everyone else must use to earn a green card (described below) if the following things have occurred:
- The alien maintained continuous physical presence
- They paid all taxes owed during the period that they are in status as an RPI
- They worked in the United States regularly;
- And demonstrated knowledge of Civics and English (my emphasis)
- All people currently waiting for family and employment green cards as of the date of enactment have had their priority date become current.
- A $1,000 penalty fee is rendered
- People in DREAM Act Status and the Agricultural Program can get their green cards in 5 years and DREAM Act kids will be eligible for citizenship immediately after they get their green cards.