Update on Immigration Reform

Written by Miguel Aristizabal, Emory Law School, 2016

As immigration reform makes its way to Washington’s priority list after the recent government shutdown, momentum seems to be building for the bill introduced by the Senate to be passed into law. The bill introduced by Congress is officially known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The bill would provide a road to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States and would reform the legal immigration process.

As for undocumented immigrants, the reform would allow individuals to apply for registered provisional status if they satisfy several requirements. The initial approval for registered provisional status would last six years and may be renewed for another six years if certain criterion is met. Registered provisional immigrants will be able to apply for permanent residence after ten years but will only receive residency only after all other applications submitted before the enactment of the bill have been processed. After becoming permanent residents, individuals will be able to eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after three years.

For legal immigration, the bill would employ a merit-based point system. Individuals would obtain points based on their skills, employment history, and educational backgrounds. Between 120,000 and 250,000 visas would be allocated each year for the point system. The merit-based point system will function alongside the current family-based immigration and employment-based immigration programs, which allow U.S. companies, citizens, and legal permanent residents to file petitions for relatives or employees.

As far as its procedural standing, the bill was passed by Senate on June 27, 2013. Whether or not the bill is passed now depends on a vote in the House of Representatives. Based on a myriad of political factors that are discussed at greater length in the articles cited below, it is very probable that immigration reform will be passed in the near future.

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