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Recent developments regarding comprehensive immigration reform in our nation's capitol are intriguing, but the plans are still in infancy and vague. On January 28, 2013 eight U.S. Senators, led by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), unveiled the outlines of an immigration plan. The statement of principles is rather broad. It sets out "four basic pillars": 1) a "tough but fair path to citizenship . . . contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country as required"; 2) reform our legal immigration system with a greater eye toward our economic needs; 3) workplace verification; and 4) setting up a system for admitting future workers. In essence, the eight senators acknowledge that the U.S. cannot deport the 11 million (or any substantial fraction thereof) undocumented immigrants. The outline can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/bfksdrp. The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on immigration reform in February, and some expect a bill in March 2013.
Obama administration officials unveiled a new provisional unlawful presence waiver rule, ("provisional waiver") on Wednesday, January 2, 2013 that will make it easier for undocumented immigrants who are immediate family members of U.S. citizens to obtain legal permanent residence. The benefit of this rule change is that it will allow the American citizen relatives to avoid long separations from immediate family members, reduce hardship, and ensure family unity.
Now is a great time to be an immigrant entrepreneur in America. Immigrants are natural entrepreneurs and USCIS is hoping to encourage and harness their energy by creating a new initiative that will increase the job creation potential of employment-based and high-skilled visa categories. They have dubbed this program Entrepreneurs in Residence ("EIR"), which is an initiative that uses policy efforts within the framework of existing immigration laws to promote and help grow the U.S. economy and American jobs. The new USCIS outlook on this valuable group may lead to new laws that fix the ill-fitting organization of current Federal laws and policies across the agency.
One of the most popular immigration avenues available right now is for family members to petition for their immediate relatives. Unfortunately, often they are turned away because their immediate relatives are inadmissible to the United States for entering the United States without inspection ("EWI"). The main avenue around this currently is a hardship waiver that must be applied for outside the U.S. For families this means months apart outside the United States with the possibility of a denial hanging over the entire process. USCIS finally sought to make this process easier and announced a proposed rule at the beginning of the year. The proposed rule would allow for waivers to be filed and approved before the relative leaves the country, but after almost a year we are still waiting.
With the Presidential election only weeks away, it reminds us all of one of the largest benefits of being a U.S. Citizen, voting. Only U.S. citizens can vote in Federal elections and most states also restrict voting to U.S. citizens. Aliens cannot run for many elected offices, meaning that they are restricted from having their views heard and being able to represent immigrants like them.
New Deferred Action Relief for DREAMers
On January 9, 2012, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("CIS") announced a proposed rule, Provisional Waivers of Inadmissibility for Certain Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens. The proposed rule would streamline the adjudication process of waivers of inadmissibility for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens by allowing aliens to file waiver applications and wait for adjudication in the U.S. This could be beneficial to tens of thousands of families with an immediate relative that entered the U.S. illegally; whereas the alien previously would have had to leave the U.S. for an extended period in order to get a green card, the alien can now wait in the U.S. for preliminary approval and have a much shortened wait abroad.
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