Blogs on Immigration Law and Policy


Carl Shusterman

Pathway to US Citizenship

The*Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (S.744), introduced in the U.S. Senate in April 2013, creates a Pathway to Citizenship for over 11 million undocumented persons. (The bill is not law yet.* To become a law, a bill must pass both*the Senate*and*the House of Representatives*and be signed into law by the President.)


Below are the eligibility guidelines (in abbreviated form) for persons wishing to legalize their status, and then to apply for*permanent residence*and for*U.S. citizenship.


Eligibility for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) Status:

  1. Must be unlawfully present in the U.S. either because of an illegal entry to the U.S. or because of a visa overstay

  2. Must have been present in the U.S. on December 31, 2011

  3. Continuous physical presence in the U.S. since that time

  4. Pass background check

  5. No convictions for felonies or for 3 or more misdemeanors

  6. Waivers available for certain criminal convictions

  7. Expunged offenses are not considered convictions

  8. Pay back taxes

  9. Pay filing fees and $500 fine

  10. Unlawful presence bars do not apply


Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI):

  1. Initially, status is valid for 6 years

  2. Includes person’s spouse and children

  3. Work*and international travel authorization

  4. Cannot be absent from the U.S. for over 180 days unless there are extenuating circumstances


Renewal of RPI:

  1. New background check

  2. Regularly employed

  3. Must be continuously employed or must have resources equal to 125% of*poverty guidelines*unless RPI is a full-time student.* Limited exceptions based on age and disabilities

  4. Pass English examination

  5. Pay filing fees and $500 fine

  6. Unlawful presence bars*do not apply


RPI to Green Card:

  1. After 10 years as RPI, may apply for*adjustment of status

  2. Heightened income requirement

  3. Employment & family backlogs*eliminated

  4. Border security*triggers are met

  5. Pay filing fees and $1,000 fine

  6. Unlawful presence bars do not apply


U.S. Citizenship

  1. May apply 3 years after obtaining green card


DREAMer’s – Special Benefits

  1. Came to U.S. prior to 16th*birthday

  2. Completed high school in U.S.

  3. No maximum age

  4. May apply for RPI under*DREAM Act

  5. May apply for green card after 5 years (includes persons granted*DACA)

  6. May apply for U.S. citizenship immediately after green card


Agricultural Workers – Special Benefits

  1. Must make substantial commitment to agricultural work

  2. May apply for Agricultural Card

  3. May be Eligible for Adjustment of Status

    1. Fulfill Agricultural Card work requirements

    2. May apply for green card after 5 years

    3. Pay taxes

    4. No serious criminal record

    5. Pay filing fees and $400 fine

About The Author Carl Shusterman is a certified Specialist in Immigration Law, State Bar of California. He was a former U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service Attorney and worked for the Board of Governors, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) alone and should not be imputed to ILW.COM.