United African Organization

Proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill to cut Diversity Visa Lottery program

April 16, 2013SarahBlog, Photo Reel

On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, the Gang of 8 Senators released a proposed CIR bill that would cut the Diversity Visa Lottery program in 2014.

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes 50,000 diversity visas available annually, drawn from a random selection among entries of individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

In 2011 alone, 24,000 out of the 50,000 allotted slots were granted to African immigrants; 48%.

The program accounts for the most African admission as legal permanent residents apart from refugees and U.S. citizens’ petitions for immediate family members.

Programs like the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program are essential to underrepresented nationals who seek to emigrate to the United States.

FAMILY PETITIONS:

In an article by  NBC Latino, the bill eliminates the backlog for family and employment-based immigration, which for some amounted to more than a 20-year wait. But a big shift is the transition from a family-based unification system to a merit-based immigration system. For example, 18 months after the legislation is enacted, a legal resident or citizen can no longer sponsor adult siblings. The new bill would restrict “immediate relative” to children and spouses of those allowed to become lawful permanent residents.

CITIZENSHIP FOR THE UNDOCUMENTED:

NBC Latino also notes that the bill provides a path to citizenship for the nation’s approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants as long as they entered the country before December 31, 2011. Undocumented immigrants without serious criminal convictions have one year — though that may be extended — to apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI).

This would allow them to be in this country legally, work for any employer and travel outside of the United States. While RPI confers legal status, it does not make individuals eligible for public benefits, including healthcare, under the Affordable Care Act. The costs to apply for RPI status are a $500 fine, assessed taxes and application fees. After six years in RPI status, another $500 fee will be applicable.

A significant aspect of this bill is that an applicant’s spouse and children can be sponsored at the same time under the same application. There is no provision in the bill for same-sex couples, though a person familiar with the negotiations said that a DHS directive could be added if there are changes following a Supreme Court decision.
After 10 years, a person with RPI status will be eligible for a green card provided they have worked regularly, paid taxes, learned English and civics, and paid a $1,000 penalty. After three years with a green card, they can apply for citizenship.

Dreamers can get their green cards in 5 years, and will be eligible for citizenship immediately after that. Under a new AgJOBS Act, undocumented farm workers who have been working in the U.S. would be eligible for an Agricultural Card, and if they pay taxes and a $400 fine, they and their spouses and minor children can adjust to legal permanent resident status.

The bill addresses the issue of families who have been separated through deportation. Undocumented immigrants who had been deported for non-criminal reasons but who had been in the U.S. before the end of 2011 can reapply to re-enter and apply for RPI status, if they are the spouse of or parent to a child who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident, or a Dreamer eligible for the DREAM Act.

FIGHTING FOR INCLUSION:

There is still time to fight for programs like the Diversity Visa Lottery and family petitions. If you are concerned about this proposed bill, we STRONGLY URGE YOU to speak up and voice your opinions to your member of congress to insure that families stay together.

HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD! 

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