Immigration reform comes in many different forms. Sometimes, it comes through executive orders issued by the President of the United States. Sometimes, it is through judicial rulings. Other times, Congress decides to act to change the way people legally enter the country.
Recently, members of the House of Representatives have passed potentially significant immigration reforms as part of the house spending though. Although this budget bill still needs to pass the Senate, the possibility is there for major immigration changes in the upcoming months.
What could these changes mean for immigrants to the United States?
Undocumented immigrants will have the option to legally work
Those who enter and stay in the United States without documentation are forever at a legal disadvantage afterward. Although they can legitimize themselves, it may be an uphill battle. They often work while using fake identifying information. Ultimately, they pay taxes on their labor but cannot connect with many tax-funded state programs.
One of the reforms currently passed by the House would grant undocumented immigrants the right to certify themselves to legally work in the United States. Those who entered the United States prior to 2011 can potentially obtain a 5-year document that allows them to legally work. They can potentially renew it for another five years when the initial term expires.
There could be more green cards available soon
There are a finite number of visas and green cards available most years. Often, there are more applicants than there are green cards and visas available. Some visa programs assign visas on a lottery system. Many require that applicants try for multiple years before they succeed.
Sadly, difficulty in processing applications also means that the United States fails to award all of the available green cards every year. In 2021, roughly 80,000 green cards will expire unused, while thousands wait for immigration decisions. One of the changes suggested in the spending bill would allow the government to reclaim those lost green cards and issue them for future immigrants.
Both of these reforms could have massive implications for immigrants to the United States. Learning more about how immigration policy changes can help you enter the country or protect your right to stay here.