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Proposed Path to Citizenship Not Without Obstacles

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on April 26, 2013

The U.S. Senate’s “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” contains a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who have been in this country since on or before Dec. 31, 2013.

But this path is not short. It will take a minimum of five years for those with provisional legal status just to obtain legal permanent residence status for agricultural workers and those who came here as children and would be covered by the Act’s DREAM provisions. It will take a minimum of ten years for others with provisional legal status to obtain legal permanent residence status for most other immigrants. Only thereafter may they file for citizenship, and most will have to wait for a minimum of an additional three years to do that.

Furthermore, there are a number of bars to obtaining provisional legal status, permanent residence status or citizenship. Nobody will qualify who has been convicted of:

  • A felony;
  • Three or more misdemeanors; or
  • An offense under any foreign law.

Applicants or petitioners can also be disqualified for unlawful voting, as well as presenting national security or health risks.

The government can also decline to grant a legal status based on “morality grounds” which are presumably broader than legislative proscriptions proposed in 2006 and 2007 for polygamy and child abduction specifically.

To qualify for merit-based award of permanent resident status, an applicant under the current Senate bill would also have to demonstrate:

  • A continuous physical presence in the U.S. (with some exceptions);
  • Payment of all taxes owed during the provisional period;
  • Regular work in the U.S. during the period;
  • Knowledge of civics and English; and
  • Payment of a $1,000 penalty for illegal entry.

Failure to meet any of those prerequisites will constitute an immovable obstacle on the path to citizenship.

The bill also generally expands the “immediate relative” visa category, but it proposes to eliminate green card eligibility for the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens to cut back on the amount of siblings entering the country on the coat-tails of one family member. Thus, anyone thinking now of obtaining a green card with the help of a sibling, should immediately file a petition for permanent resident status before this legislation is enacted, possibly later this year.

As always, the Law Office of Ronald Shapiro, Esq. stands ready to serve those in need of immigration assistance, including those who are siblings of U.S. citizens that need green cards. Please contact us at (847) 564-0712 to speak with an experienced and qualified immigration attorney and/or check out our immigration law Website for more information about how we might assist you.