2013 Comprehensive Immigration Reform details

Who is eligible for Obama Amnesty?
  1. Strong ties to the United States by living and working here:  The exact timing is not yet clear but anyone who has lived in the US for several years will be eligible. The alien will also need to provide proof for this period required by submitting valid documents. 
  2. Clean background:  It is not clear how many misdemeanors will be allowed but I expect maybe three at the most (felons will not be allowed under any circumstances and will be deported). 
  3. Pay fine:  The exact amount will be announced later but you will be required to pay a one-time cash penalty.
  4. Pay back taxes:  The great news is that if you worked illegally or used a fake Social Security number but were not caught and convicted, you will be forgiven (that is why it is an amnesty).  However, if you did not file taxes on your income, you will need to pay income taxes before being approved, and it is likely that Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will levy a fine and/or interest.
  5. Learn English and Civics along the line for naturalization:   You will need to demonstrate proficiency in English reading, writing, and speaking through an in-person test in front of an officer of the USCIS.

How will the legalizing process work?

When USCIS starts to process the applications, you will need to register with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by getting fingerprinted (biometrics) and providing background information.  Obviously you will be required to complete a bunch of forms along with paying a fine and back taxes.  If approved, you will be given a temporary/probationary legal status that will enable you to work and live in the United States of America.  You will also be able to travel freely outside the United States, either like a green card holder or with advanced parole.

After the USCIS decides to issue green cards to people like you, depending on your native country, you will wait for availability of an immigrant visa.  At that point, you will need to go through a more thorough background check, demonstrate work history of holding jobs, evidence of paying taxes regularly, and learn English/Civics to finally get a permanent residency or green card.

Citizenship will come after you have been a green card holder for five years (three years if you married to an American citizen and the requirements would be lenient for those who have served in the Military), you can apply for naturalization and receive a US passport.  A slightly less restrictive process will be used for DREAMers and agricultural workers but details are yet to be released.
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