First, the good news! Millions of individuals in unlawful status may soon be able to apply to adjust their status to the legal status of Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI). The Criteria for Eligibility would be proof of residence in the United States before December 31, 2011, and maintenance of continuous physical presence since then and payment of a $500 penalty fee (except for DREAM Act eligible students), and assessed taxes, per adult applicant and all applicable fees required to pay for the cost of processing the application.
However, beware of the “three strikes and you’re out” provision, in which a person would be ineligible if he or she was ever convicted of any felony; convicted of 3 or more misdemeanors; convicted of an offense under foreign law; or if he or she ever unlawfully voted in the U.S. In addition, a person could be held Inadmissible for Criminal, National Security, Public Health, or other morality grounds.
Spouses and children of people in RPI status could be petitioned for as derivatives of the principal applicant (but they must be in the United States at the time).
Get this! Immigrants in RPI status would be able to 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 could 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 the costs of implementing the registration program.
An individual who has been granted RPI status would not be eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit (as such term is defined in section 403 of the Personal Responsibility andWork Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1613)).
An individual who adjusts from registered provisional immigrant status to lawful permanent residence shall be deemed, as of the date of such adjustment, to have completed the five-year period specified in 8 USC 1612 and 1613.
A noncitizen granted registered provisional immigrant [RPI] 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 noncitizenis 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 (42U.S.C. 18,071).
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
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.
Daniel E. Chavez is an immigration & naturalization attorney located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and helps immigration clients throughout Northern California