Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

Immigration Q & A

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill: How it will impact our community
By Hina Askari, Esq.

For a while, it appeared that the Immigration Reform Bill had crashed on the Senate floor and was all but dead. But on Thursday, June 15, Senate leaders announced that they had reached an agreement to revive the comprehensive bill and return it to the Senate for a final debate. A vote is expected on final passage before the July 1.

What we know as of now is that, if enacted, the bill will create:

  • A merit-based immigration system or a point system
  • Provisions for those who entered the U.S. illegally and or undocumented individuals – “Z” visa
  • Parents’ Visitor Visas
  • A Temporary Worker Program – “Y” visa
  • Adjustment of the status of those who entered the U.S. as children – DREAM Act

Pursuant to the merit-based system, most of the green cards will be given to highly educated, highly skilled, and experienced individuals. (Please see Point System below). There will be an exception for those individuals who applied for green cards on the basis of family, so long as the applications were filed as of March 2005.

For those who are out of status, or entered the U.S. illegally before January 1, 2007, a “Z” visa may be issued. This is a four-year renewable work visa. Applicants will have to prove they entered and were present in the U.S. prior to January 1, 2007. Applicants for a “Z” visa must pay a $1,000 penalty and pass a background check. Applicants must prove
good moral character for up to three (3) years prior to filing an application for “Z” visa. Throughout the duration of the “Z” visa, there must be continued employment for two (2) four-year terms. Maintenance of a clean criminal record and payment of taxes also is required. “Z” visa holders will be able to travel home and will be able to renew their “Z” visa for another four years. After completing two (2) four-year terms, or after eight years and meeting all the requirements, “Z” visa holders will have to return to the home country to file an application for a green card, and pay an additional $4000. They will have to complete English language requirements, wait for processing while the backlogs clear, and demonstrate merit under a meritbased system. Individuals subject to final orders of removal will not be eligible for a “Z” visa.

The new “Parent Visitor Visa” will allow parents to visit children in the U.S. for 30 days per year by paying a $1,000 bond. Parents on this visa will not be allowed to change or adjust their status. No extensions will be allowed. The Temporary Worker Program visa (Y Visa) will be limited to three (3) two-year terms. Visa holders must spend at least one year outside the U.S. between each term. These temporary workers would be able to bring immediate family members only if they can prove that they can financially support their family and can obtain health insurance coverage for their family members. No extensions will be allowed, and those who overstay their time will be permanently barred from admission to the U.S.

Three years after the passage of the bill, applications for adjustment of status may be filed by those

who already are eligible for a “Z” visa if they:

  • Have been continuously present in the U.S. since January 1, 2007.
  • Are less than 30 years of age on the day of passage of the bill.
  • Were under the age of 16 when they first entered the U.S.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED, and have a degree from a U.S university/college, or have completed
    two years in a B.S. degree program. Under the immigration bill, the Diversity Lottery Program will be eliminated. There will be no green cards for sisters/brothers and adult children of U.S. citizens. The bill also eliminates the labor certification process. There is no question that this Immigration Bill will greatly impact our communities. Without a doubt,

Senate-Proposed Merit-Based
System Point System

Points
Allotted
Maximum
Points
Allowed
Employment
Specialty Occupation
High Demand Occupation
STEM* or Health Occupation
US Employer Sponsor
Years of Work for US Firm
Age
20
16
8
6
2 per year,
up to 10
3
47
Education
Advanced Degree
Bachelor’s Degree
Associate’s Degree
High School Diploma or GED
Perkins Vocational Education
Program
Apprenticeship
STEM, Associate’s Degree or Above
20
16
10
6
5
8
8
28
English and Civics
TOEFL of 75 or higher
TOEFL of 60-74
Pass USCIS Citizenship Test
15
10
6
15
Extended Family**
Adult Child of USC
Adult Child of LPR
Sibling of USC or LPR
Applied for family visa in any
above category after May 1, 2005
8
6
4
2
10
GRAND TOTAL POINTS                                                               100
* STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
** Immigrants could earn points for extended family only if they earn a total of 55 points from other categories.

this bill will benefit those members of our community who are highly educated and who have yet to sully their U.S. immigration status, either by never visiting the U.S. or else staying in status. For those who are currently in an unlawful status, this bill requires jumping through many difficult hoops, facing complicated eligibility requirements, long wait periods, and the uncertainty of ever returning to the U.S. Even the DREAM Act portion of the bill requires first meeting the “Z” visa requirements. I am cautiously optimistic that there will be many amendments to the final bill and some of the very onerous requirements placed on applicants will be modified. If such amendments do not come to pass, many of our community members who wish to obtain legal status in the U.S., upon filing applications, will face great financial hardships when paying the exorbitant fees and penalties. Additionally, due to the complex and unrealistic legal requirements, in the end, many may never fulfill their dreams of obtaining a Green Card.

Supplemental Point System for
Unauthorized Immigrants
Applying for Permanent Status

Points
Allotted

Maximum
Points
Allowed

Worked in agriculture for
3 years, 150 days per year
Worked in agriculture for
4 years, 150 days for 3 years,
100 days for 1 year
Worked in agriculture for
5 years, 100 days per year
Year of lawful employment
in US
Own place of residence
Current medical insurance
for entire family
21

23

25

1 per year

1 per year owned

5

25


15

5

5

GRAND TOTAL POINTS                                                                      50

Please note that all the above information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Consult with an immigration lawyer prior to making decision regardingyour immigration matters.