The most important and anxiously awaited provision of the immigration bill concerns the legalization of currently undocumented or illegal immigrants. The bill requires that an individual must have been present in the United States before December 31, 2011 and must have continuously lived here since that time. The bill also requires a penalty in the amount of $500 along with payment of owed taxes. A felony conviction or three or more misdemeanor convictions and other violations of law would disqualify an undocumented alien from registering as a Provisional Immigrant.
Spouses and children of qualified RPIs may also seek derivative status of RPI if they are currently present in the United States. The RPI status would allow these legalized immigrants to work for any employer without requiring a sponsorship or other procedural barriers that often make finding employment difficult for foreign workers. The status of RPI is also available to certain individuals outside the United States if they were previously deported for non-criminal reasons.
The RPI status will continue for a period of 6 years and it can then be renewed if no criminal convictions have occurred since the issuance of the initial RPI status. An individual may adjust status to a Lawful Permanent Resident after 10 years of having been an RPI.
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