One of the topics featured in the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate earlier this year is the concept of earned citizenship. This would offer undocumented immigrants a path to legal citizenship that depends on the person assimilating into American life. As of the middle of October, the bill has passed the Senate but is stuck in the house, putting a halt on reforms such as earned citizenship.
The proposed process takes multiple steps in moving a person toward U.S. citizenship. The first step is to achieve a provisional status. To be awarded this status, one would have to register, submit biometric data, pass criminal background and national security checks, as well as pay fees and penalties. Once these stipulations are met, the person would be legal. However, they would not have as many benefits as someone with a green card. Provisional citizens would not be eligible for welfare, subsidies or tax credits.
The next step would be applying for a green card. Those who apply must pay their taxes, pass additional criminal background and national security checks, register for Selective Service and pay additional fees and penalties. They must also learn to speak the English language with proficiency and take a U.S. civics test.
With a green card, citizenship is the next step and can be obtained the same way that it is now. That requires filling out applications and paying fees. But those who applied for the DREAM Act program and were accepted have a few different options. Those who qualified and were accepted into the program were children brought into the U.S. illegally by a parent. By going to school or joining the Armed Forces for at least two years participants can become citizens. For many, this path opens up a world of opportunity.
Provisional status can expire or be revoked, but decisions to remove the status or not grant it can be brought under judicial review. The case would require the applicant to prove their denial was unjust. The proposal also includes ways to weed out fraud.