May 17, 2007
Key senators have announced an agreement on a comprehensive immigration reform plan that fundamentally restructures the way immigration works in the U.S.  THIS  PLAN HAS NOT BECOME LAW.  It must be passed by the full Senate, reconciled with an immigration bill in the House of Representatives, and be signed by the President before a new law comes into effect.  Many of its provisions will be further delayed by “triggers” that require border security progress before they become effective.  The biggest items:  1) a shift away from a family-based system to a points-based system that focuses on education and skill level.  Under the plan, family categories are eliminated:  no brothers or sisters, no children over age 21, no married children.  Parents of citizens are no longer immediate relatives but are placed under a 40,000/year quota.  Eliminated visa numbers would be re-allocated to persons with sufficient points based on their education and skill levels.  This would have a major impact on the demographics of U.S. immigration, eliminating most applicants from developing countries who don’t have access to education.  2) A legalization plan for the undocumented population (those who arrived prior to January 1, 2007) with fees/fines upwards of $5,000.  These persons would have a legal status, but permanent residency would likely take 8+ years.  3) A temporary worker program for new workers that would have no path for permanent residence.  More details as the text of the bill is made public, but one initial observation:  If you have any family members who you would ever like to bring to the U.S., you should consider filing for them very soon.  A planned increase in immigration fees this summer is another reason to file quickly.  An initial consultation can give you guidance on your particular situation in light of these potential changes.  Stay tuned!

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