Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

    Comprehensive Immigration Reform Update (CIR)- It’s Here! *

    Comprehensive Immigration Reform is Here

    Comprehensive Immigration Reform – Now is the time for action

    After much anticipation it was finally announced that the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (CIR) will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) on December 15th, 2009.  It’s really here.

    Before we get too excited, let me try and break down how I think this will play out.

     

    Firstly, I was anticipating that this Bill would be delayed until the Health Care Reform Bill had passed into law, but this has turned out not to be the case. House Representatives can introduce Bills at any time and there may be strategic reasons why this Bill could not be delayed any later than now.

     

    The induction of this Bill will spark off a major Congressional fight and the media will be in a frenzy. We’ve been here before in 2007. We saw all kinds of demonstrations in the streets for and against immigration reform.
    Studying in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

    Studying in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

    CIR will dominate the news as the various spin-doctors will be jockeying for position.

     

    Thankfully, we’ll have Christmas to read the Bill and see exactly what will be in the provisions and our January Newsletter should have a detailed report as to the key provisions of the Bill for our readers to peruse.

    How CIR Might Become Law?

     

    What typically happens in these matters is the House of Representatives (the lower House) will introduce their Bill and this will trigger the Senate (the upper House) to introduce their version of the Bill. Over the ensuing weeks and months both Houses will seek to pass their version of the Bill. As soon as both Houses pass their respective Bills, they are reconciled into one Bill and President Obama will sign it into law.

     

    If either House fails to pass their version of the Bill then the whole matter goes away and we’re back to square one.
    Why Should CIR Pass This Time Around?

    Why Should CIR Pass This Time Around?

    Why Should CIR Pass This Time Around?

    In 2007 both Houses of Congress were divided over the issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. So in order to pass any legislation on the issue there would need to be a coming together since neither party could hold sway on its own. Moreover, it was thought at the time that being too ‘pro-Immigration reform’ was a vote loser and many Congress Representatives began to shy away from the issue especially when the 2008 Presidential race really got underway and for these reasons in 2007 only the House of Representatives was able to pass thier Bill, which in the end turned out to be more anti- immigration than pro. However, today, the political landscape is vastly different for the following reasons: –

    Firstly, then Senators Obama, Clinton and McCain (the Presidential front-runners in 2008) each campaigned hard on promising CIR. Secondly, the most anti – CIR Congressional Representatives found themselves losing votes and, in many cases, their seats in the 2008 election. Thirdly, the Democratic Party, very pro-immigration in recent years, now dominate the House of Representatives and the Senate to such a degree that it’s likely what they say will go, with very little Republican support needed. Bearing in mind these factors, CIR is looking very promising. However, before we get over-confident there are some pitfalls. Congress needs to keep its focus on passing health care reform otherwise they run the risk of getting caught up both in CIR and health care reform simultaneously and pass nothing. Also, with unemployment exceeding 10%, there could be an immigration backlash against passing immigration measures that could be argued as depriving employment opportunities to Americans. CIR is therefore not a done deal.

    It's Time for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    It’s Time for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    What Can We Expect to See in the CIR Bill?

    Here are the highlights I’m looking for: –

    An amnesty for all undocumented aliens – this will be highly controversial and there will be many provisions in this element of the Bill.  A decision will need to be made as to how long an undocumented alien would have needed to be in the US before they qualify for an amnesty. Incidentally, it will not be called an amnesty, but more likely a ‘pathway to citizenship’. My guess is that an undocumented status would have needed to have been established for a period of time, say between 2-5 years based on previous Bills.  Therefore, for aliens who have only recently overstayed their 90 day visa-waiver period, or for those whose visas have only just expired, then they may not qualify.  Undocumented aliens with more than very minor criminal convictions will almost certainly be excluded. This is all speculation at this point, so we’ll just have to see how this issue is played out.

    A reduction on the waiting times for green card applications – this could be achieved by simply increasing the annual green card quota. The quota has been frozen for years while demand has increased resulting in backlogs (retrogression) with waiting list times running into many years.

     

    Flexibility in the quotas for graduate professionals – the H-1B visa quota has been held artificially low since 2004 and as a result each year there is a mad dash for these visas, to the frustration of US employers needing to bring overseas talent in.

    Nurses and Physical Therapists are in huge demand but are also caught up in backlogs to the point where hospitals are no longer able to hire the staff they need from abroad.

    E2 visa holders need a pathway to green card status, and this is not presently the case unless a spouse obtains a job and secures employment-based sponsorship.  Various Congress Representatives have introduced Bills on their own to enable E2 visa holders convert to green card status after five years.

    There will be many more provisions within CIR and I’ll be reporting on them after the Christmas recess.
    If CIR is something that you really feel may affect you please email Karol @ ingramesq .com and outline your particular concerns and she will coordinate our efforts to make sure that your issues are addressed and if necessary set up telephone consultations accordingly. 
    It’s way too soon to provide any specific advice at this time, but we do need to begin to position ourselves to meet the number of additional enquiries we’ll be handling as CIR comes closer to becoming law.
    By Attorney Chris M. Ingram
    Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. IngramUS Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
    Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
    Admitted in New York.
    Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
    520 Broadway, Suite 350,
    Santa Monica,
    California 90401
    Tel: 310 496 4292

    Everyday the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram provides a comprehensive range of US Immigration expertise. We also provide a free consultation for our prospective clients.

     

    General Location: Santa Monica, Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, California, USA.
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