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April 2013

Vol. 2, Issue 3
Assisting immigration clients around the world

 Ida Keir Law 


Green Card &
 Immigration Updates
Should the Boston Tragedy Slow Immigration Reform?

After the awful events in Boston, we're hearing concerns about immigrants and national security. It's worth looking at the numbers: in the last five years, a total of 3,861,794 immigrants became U.S. citizens through naturalization.  Of those, one is accused of committing these despicable crimes.  


An additional 5,374,240 immigrants got green cards in those five years (to see all the statistics, click here). All applicants must pass background and criminal checks.  The vast majority go on to live, work, pay taxes, and grieve for the victims, just like so many immigrants before them.


We live in a very open society, full of amazing opportunities as well as some dangers.  A child anywhere in the U.S. can have access to a world of information.  We can't stop that by closing our borders.  Let's resist fear of "the other." Instead, may we celebrate our many cultures,and the ever-changing society that has defined America throughout our history.


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In This Issue
Boston and Immigration Reform
Immigration Reform Bill
Love with a Foreigner
2011.11.18 IK headshot more light big
Senate Introduces Immigration Reform  Bill - Beware of Scammers!
The U.S. Senate recently introduced its bipartisan bill totaling 844 pages.  This is not law, and changes will be made! If it passes, it will take some time to implement.  It's not perfect, but it's a vast improvement over what we have now.  Here are brief highlights.  See more details on the Immigration Reform page on our website.
  • There's a focus on Southern border security, including more fencing.  Verifications of exits from the country by air or sea will be improved to reduce/eliminate overstays.
  • The "path to citizenship" for the estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants will take at least 13 years and starts with "Registered Provisional Immigrant" or RPI status.  RPIs can work and travel, but not apply for welfare benefits or Obamacare.
  • Some family visas will be reduced and others will be increased.  Visas for siblings and over-31 adult children of U.S. citizens will be phased out.  But the spouses and children of green card holders will no longer be subject to visa quotas.  
  • All employers will have to use E-Verify, the government's system that verifies employee authorization to work, within five years.  Small businesses will be phased in more slowly.  Visas will be more readily available for agricultural employees, and high and low-skilled workers.
  • There will be new merit-based visas, which most developed nations now use.  Prospective immigrants will be awarded points for factors such as education, employment, length of U.S. residence, and English language skills. 
No new laws have passed!
Watch out for scammers who 
will take your money with 
false promises!
What if You Fall In Love With a Foreigner?
Love doesn't recognize borders, but the U.S. government does. This month covers partners abroad; next month we'll explain the rules for those already in the U.S. Remember, there are never guarantees a visa will be granted.

Visiting the U.S.  Your beloved will need a visitor (B) visa unless s/he is a citizen of a country in the Visa Waiver ProgramVWP citizens can visit the U.S. for up to 90 days, and can marry during that time.  Visitors on a B visa must leave the country at the end of their authorized stay.
Interracial couple

Fiance(e) visas.  A U.S. citizen can apply for a visa for a fiance(e).  This will allow the foreigner to come to the U.S. to marry; the marriage must take place within 90 days of entry into the U.S.  S/he can then legally remain in the U.S. and apply to "adjust status" aka get a green card without going back home.  This process typically takes 9-12 months, so allow plenty of time.  Green card holders (LPRs) cannot apply for a fiance(e) visa.
Spousal visas.  If you marry abroad, the U.S. citizen or LPR can apply for a green card for her/his spouse.  This also usually takes 9-12 months for citizens, and it's extremely difficult to speed that up, so plan ahead.  It takes longer for spouses of green card holders, because there's a quota. Immigration reform may change that.
Same-sex fiance(s) and spouses.  The immigration laws don't recognize same-sex marriage, so you cannot apply for a fiance(e) or spousal visa in that case.  The Supreme Court is currently considering whether DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) is unconstitutional, and should announce their decision in June.  If DOMA is unconstitutional, same-sex couples should be able to apply for the same visas as any other couples. Stay tuned.
Warning!  It's a very bad idea for a foreigner to enter the U.S. as a tourist if the real intention is to marry and remain in the U.S.  Don't try it - explore the legal avenues instead.

These are exciting times for immigrants and their many millions of friends.  There may be huge changes in the coming months.  Stay calm, and stay informed.

Ida Keir, Esq.