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New Bill Would Create a Path to Citizenship

path to citizenship

Finding a Path to Citizenship

Many undocumented immigrants in Florida face uncertain futures and worry about the potential of facing deportation and removal proceedings. While most undocumented immigrants are hardworking and want to find a path to citizenship, finding a way to gain a green card and to remain in the country permanently can be difficult. A Miami immigration lawyer at Pozo Goldstein might help people to understand their options and the potential visas for which they might be eligible so that they can legally live and work in the U.S. Recently, a U.S. Representative from Miami introduced legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of people who are currently in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants.

Bill to Create a Path to Citizenship

On Feb. 8, 2022, U.S. Representative Maria Elvira Salazar, a Republican from Miami, introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would create a new immigration program through which millions of undocumented people in the U.S. could become lawful permanent residents and eventually become naturalized U.S. citizens. Under the bill, undocumented immigrants would be required to complete two programs over a period lasting 15 years. The bill is called The Dignity Act and would create extensive changes to the U.S. immigration system. Security at the border would be increased, and asylum seekers would go through an expedited process to determine whether they are eligible for asylum. The bill would also create a path to legal residency and potential citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants who are already living in the U.S.

Representative Salazar is in her first term and has been talking about this potential legislation for a year. She officially introduced the 483-page bill on Feb. 8 and stated that the bill would help to stop new undocumented immigrants from unlawfully entering the country while also providing a way for undocumented people who are already present in the U.S. to gain legal status.

Under the bill, a “Dignity Program” would be created for qualifying undocumented immigrants. To be eligible, undocumented people will need to have been present in the U.S. for a minimum of five years. They would also have to pass criminal background checks, pay any back taxes they might owe, begin paying income taxes on new earnings, and pay restitution in the amount of $10,000 to the U.S. government spread out over 10 years or $1,000 per year. They would be allowed to work legally in the U.S. while participating in the Dignity Program. Restitution paid to the government by the program participants would be paid into an American Worker Fund and would be used to pay for career training for citizens.

It is unclear whether the Dignity Act will be passed by Congress and signed by President Biden. However, if it does become law, it will have a large impact on the immigration system and provide a way for millions of people to become lawful permanent residents and eventually become naturalized U.S. citizens.

Current Process

Gaining legal status to remain and work in the U.S. is difficult for undocumented immigrants. If the person entered the U.S. lawfully and is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, he or she can apply to adjust his or her status to a lawful permanent resident. An immediate relative only includes the citizen’s spouse or minor child under the age of 21. As long as the relative entered the country lawfully and had face-to-face contact with an immigration official upon entry, he or she might be eligible to adjust his or her status.

However, the process is complex and more difficult if the person entered the U.S. illegally. People who are undocumented and wish to marry a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen might be required to leave the country and apply for a green card at a U.S. Consulate in their home countries. Depending on how long they remained in the U.S., they might be barred from re-entry for three or 10 years. However, they might be able to apply for an I-601 waiver if their absence would create an undue hardship for their U.S. citizen relative.

Other possibilities include the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for people who entered unlawfully as minors, applying for asylum, or applying for a U visa if the person is the victim of a crime.

Get Help From Pozo Goldstein

If you are undocumented and want to learn about how you might be able to adjust your status to remain in the U.S., you should speak to an experienced Miami immigration lawyer at Pozo Goldstein as soon as possible. Our firm includes two former immigration prosecutors and a former judge, and we handle complex immigration matters for our clients. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at (305) 856-0400.

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