Registered Provisional Immigrant
The Senate's proposed immigration bill offers a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.
The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act would create a registration process for undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., granting them lawful status and a 13-year path to citizenship. The bill also includes $40 billion in added border security (including 18,000 more Border Patrol agents and 700 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico Border), tens of thousands of visas allotments for high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants and an electronic verification system for employers to check employees' work authorization.
Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status would grant undocumented immigrants legal status for an initial period of six years and an optional renewal of an additional six years. After ten years of lawful status the registered provisional immigrant could apply to adjust status to permanent residence and eventually, three years later, naturalize. That's 10 years to permanent residency, green card status, and 13 years to citizenship.
However, RPI status pends on something termed as "security triggers." The temporary RPI status is provisional to two other parts of the Act - the Border Security Plan and the Border Fence Plan. Both of these plans are to be implemented in the first six months of the bill's enactment. The temporary RPI status policy won't be implemented until border security and fencing are in place.
Suspension of Removal
During the application process for RPI status, applicants will not be deported or removed. Any persons currently in deportation or removal proceedings who are suspected to be eligible for RPI status must be granted opportunity to apply.
Registered Provisional Immigrant Application
The initial application fee to register for RPI status is $500. Applications will only be accepted within the first year of the bill's enactment. There will be both family and individual applications. Spouses and children of persons granted RPI status will be granted RPI status as well.
The eligibility requirements for initial RPI status can be broken down into four main categories - physical presence, crime, taxes and immigration status.
1. Physical Presence
- Be physically present in the U.S. when submitting RPI application.
- Be physically present in the U.S. on or before Dec. 31, 2011.
- Have maintained continuous physical presence in the U.S. from Dec. 31, 2011 until status is granted, unless absence was "brief, casual or innocent."
The following charges are grounds for ineligibility:
- Felony conviction, unless "an essential element [of the conviction] was the alien's immigration status or violation of this Act."
- Three or more misdemeanors, other than minor traffic offenses or state or local offenses for which "an essential element [of the charge] was the alien's immigration status or violation of this Act."
- Any offense under foreign law except a purely political offense.
- Engagement in terrorist activity or suspicion of being engaged in terrorist activity.
All applicants must provide proof of payment of federal income taxes.
4. Immigration Status
If in the U.S. under the following immigration statuses on the date the Act was introduced to the Senate, the applicant will be ineligible:
- Lawfully admitted for permanent residence;
- Admitted as a refugee or granted asylum; or
- Lawfully present in a nonimmigrant status.
RPI status can be renewed for an additional six years of lawful status. The application fee for renewal will be $500 which can be paid in installments.
To be eligible, applicants must meet all the same requirements as the initial application and an employment/education requirement. Waivers for this requirement may be administered in cases of age (under 16 or over 70), disability or for dependent family members.
The employment requirement or education requirement, or a combination of the two, must be met to be eligible for RPI renewal.
- Employment Requirement
- Be regularly employed from time initial RPI status was granted, allowing for brief periods of unemployment lasting not more than 60 days.
- Be unlikely to become a public charge.
- Be able to demonstrate income or resources not less than 100 percent of Federal poverty level.
- Education Requirement
- Be a full-time student enrolled in:
- An institution of higher education;
- Secondary school;
- A program for literacy, education or career training; or
- An education program to help obtain high school diploma or its equivalent.
"Back of the Line" Green Card
After 10 years, persons with RPI status will be able to apply for permanent residency. However, permanent residency will be administered under a "back of the line" policy, meaning their applications will not be processed until all other permanent residency applications filed before the enactment of the Act are processed.
The eligibility requirements for adjustment of status are the same as for renewal, except applicants must demonstrate income or resources that are not less that 125 percent of the Federal poverty level throughout their RPI status. The application fee to adjust status will be $1000 but may be paid in installments.
Citizenship will be available for RPI immigrants after three years as lawful permanent residents. The naturalization process will be the same for them as for all others - a citizenship test, an interview and an oath of loyalty to the U.S. As citizens, they will be afforded all the protections, rights and responsibilities of U.S. law.