The Lawyer Column
Undoubtedly, the news has focused on recent immigration reform in the United States and on how to replace our government-admitted “broken system.” With estimates ranging from 11,000,000 to 13,000,000 individuals in the United States who are “undocumented,” “overstayed,” or “illegal,” this certainly poses a problem that must be solved.
Because of this serious issue the government has in maintaining an efficient and properly guided immigration system, it is no wonder that our system is poised for reform when it has gotten so out of hand. Without going in to a political debate as to whether the past was handled wrong, the clear issue and debate must focus on the now: how do we provide status for the millions who are here undocumented, of whom the majority are hard working, honest, and American-Dream seekers, when consistently protecting the sanctity of the United States for the future? That is exactly what the United States Congress is doing as we speak.
Most importantly in this article, I want to focus on the piece of legislation which is undergoing debate and negotiation as you are reading this article. The piece of legislation which effects so many here who are undocumented is known as “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (“RPI”) Status. To summarize, it gives those who are undocumented in the Country, an opportunity to obtain documented status if you:
1) entered the United States before December 31, 2011,
2) did not depart the United States from that time (brief, casual trips should be ok),
3) pay all required government fees and penalties (those to be announced),
4) and, in general have a clean criminal record (this is a complex element which should be left for confidential discussion with your attorney as to what may or may not exclude you from “RPI Status”).
And again, while this legislation is still undergoing debate and negotiation, all signs point to the fact that even those who are in deportation proceedings and have been deported, may still apply for “RPI Status” as the overwhelming rationale of this bill is to provide for family unity and sanctity with those family members still living in the United States documented and/or undocumented.
So what, some may ask, what does this do for me? Well, that is a great question and the benefits given by “RPI Status” are quite important and historic to say the least. As of now, the bill provides for Lawful Permanent Residency (“Green Card”) after 10 years of maintaining your “RPI Status” which of course requires permanent residency in the United States, keeping a clean criminal record and work history, and of course after paying any additional government required fees. And after receiving your Lawful Permanent Residency, you will be able to apply for United States Citizenship anywhere from 3 to 5 years afterwards.
So for now, while although this is still simply a legislative bill and not official law (rumor has it, passage will be sometime later this year), my recommendations are this: start gathering proof that you were here before December 30, 2011 (rent receipts, mortgage bills, bank receipts, etc.) and by all means, keep a clean criminal record. This historic law which hopefully will be passed is monumentous and should not be taken lightly: to put it simply, you will be going from “undocumented” to a legal documented status while not living in fear anymore from law enforcement, tax regulators, and or employers constantly digging for your official status in this Country.
If I can be of any assistance to the readers of Russian Accent, your friends or family, please do not hesitate to contact me. My immigration practice spans nationally as I am able to represent clients across the Country and globally when dealing with our complex immigration system. As a first-generation born American who has seen what my parents and extended family have gone through in their immigration from the U.S.S.R., it is a personal honor to assist those in my very own community. Thank you very much.
Attorney at Law
2406 Auburn Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45219-2702