Comprehensive Immigration Reform – White House Circulates Draft Immigration Reform Principles

On March 28, 2007, the White House presented a PowerPoint Presentation illustrating the results of its most recent negotiation with the Republican members of Congress in regards to comprehensive immigration reform. The principles agreed upon are as follows:

1. Revamp green card system and “clean up” family backlogs by cutting family visa preferences: The emphasis of the revised immigration system would be on employment and talent rather than on families. As a result, the preference categories of siblings of US citizens, adult married children of US citizens, and adult unmarried children of US citizens would be eliminated. A US citizen would not be able to petition any sibling or adult child to enter and live in the United States. There would also be caps for petitions of parents of US citizens. The diversity visa would also be eliminated. *Individuals that were petitioned by their US citizen family member prior to the change of immigration law, will still be eligible to enter the US and adjust their status.

2. Bring illegal workers out of the shadows by giving them indefinite temporary status: All illegal aliens currently in the US wishing to benefit must register a year after the enactment of the law. After the enrollment period and after passing background checks, the immigrant may obtain a new “Z” visa. The Z visa is good for 3 years and may be renewed indefinitely every 3 years. In order to renew it the first time, the immigrant must take and pass an English/civics naturalization test. Each time the immigrant renews the Z visa, he must pay a $2,000 fine and a $1,500 processing fee.

The immigrant will not receive any Social Security tax payments made while working illegally. Also, Z visa holders are not eligible to receive any public benefits other than emergency care and elementary and secondary education. They may not petition any relatives and will be eligible to adjust their status to permanent resident after the visa backlogs are cleared. A fine of $10,000 will have to be paid prior to adjusting status to permanent resident and the adjustment of status will take place in the immigrant’s home country through consular process. Applications will be decided upon based on new qualifying factors and equities such as home ownership, people with health insurance, level of school success of children and applicants, learning English, etc.

3. Temporary Worker Program: The new “Y” visa would be created for temporary workers. The amount of available visas would change every year determined by market need. Non-seasonal workers would get the visa for two years then would have to return home for six months before applying for another Y visa. After returning home, the temporary worker would be able to get two more 2-year visas. In total, the temporary worker would be able to obtain three 2 year visas allowing him a total amount of time to work in the US of 6 years. He would have to leave the US for six months in between each visa. They may NOT bring their family members. The worker does not have to stay with the same employer. Seasonal workers would get a 9-month visa then would have to return to their home country for three months. Upon return to home country, seasonal worker may apply for another 9 month visa that is nenewable indefinitely going through the same process. Family members may NOT accompany the applicant. The filing fee for the Y visa application is $1,500.00 and employers must show that US workers are not available. Seasonal workers must stay with the same employer. If worker needs to change employers, must wait outside the US for at least one year. There is no cap on the number of agricultural seasonal visas. *Y visa holders cannot remain in the US after the 6 year period is over unless a green card has been approved, not just being processed. The Y visa holder would have to remain outside the US while applying for a Green Card and would compete against high-skilled workers in a new merit-based visa system.

4. Enforcement: New law would create an employment verification system for all workers. It provides for increased resources at the border and much greater fees for employers who hire unauthorized workers. Future attempts to illegally enter the US by foreign nationals would result in a permanent bar from entering the US.

This set of principles is a list of conclusions reached between the White House and the Republican members of Congress. It is not a law. However, it gives a very descriptive look as what the comprehensive immigration reform will require and provide. Most importantly, it gives you guidance as to what you can do today to avoid injury from these recently negotiated principles for the comprehensive immigration reform law.

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