What should I do if I ineligible for RPI status?

Well, some of you might think that you are ineligible because you came after the cutoff date or do not have the evidence to show that you did come earlier or maintained continuous presence or you have too many felony/misdemeanor convictions or you used fraudulent documents to come to USA or to work or you made a false claim to US citizenship.  If that is how you feel, don't just pack up your bags and self deport, fearing that your life in America may be over.


The Gang of Eight has deliberately written an immigration reform bill with so many loopholes that even those who do not meet the criteria will be able to legalize.  What is the reason?  Well, the Republicans needed to show their voters that they are tough on lawbreakers and that's it.  No one really cares how the law actually works.  So with those loopholes hidden in the bill, you can actually appeal to the Secretary of Department of Homeland Security that one or even all the requirements of eligibility be waived.  Think about it!  If you tell the DHS that you cannot imagine returning with your family to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the murder capital of the world, do you think that the officers will be so heartless to deny your case?  The rules allow the Secretary to grant waivers very liberally.  All you will need is a good immigration attorney because based on your individual case, a story can be developed for almost everyone, no matter what, particularly because there will no personal interviews before approval.

The reality is that illegal immigration in America is not going away.  American employers love cheap labor and as soon as they realize that legalized employees are demanding higher wages and benefits, they will let them go and look for new unauthorized workers.  In other words, despite the eVerify and borders being closed, immigrants will be able to come legally or illegally and find work here.  No American politician has the courage to punish the employers for breaking the laws about hiring unauthorized workers, so nothing is likely to change.

Crime committed after immigration petition filed and pending

Anthony writes, "What should an immigrant do if he or she gets charged with a crime while the immigration petition is still pending?  Should he tell the USCIS or just wait for the petition to be approved?  I would like to hear answers for both misdemeanors and felonies."


It seems that the USCIS does not expect you to update you on your criminal activities while an application is pending.  Rather the USCIS relies on its own background check system to get to know what you have been up to.  For instance, if you were arrested and fingerprinted, the USCIS will be able to see it in their background check system, which are always conducted yet once more before the final approval is granted.  In cases where a personal interview with a USCIS officer is mandatory, for instance, in some adjustment of status petitions and naturalization, you will be under oath and promise to tell the truth.  Particularly in case of naturalization it is a standard question: what has changed since you filed the application?  By law, you are obliged to update the agent with the status, whether you have only been arrested and not convicted or that you have already been convicted and completed the sentence.  For such interviews, it is best to have your file with you for that case.  Depending on the petition and the outcome of the crime, your case maybe put on hold, denied, or you can be even arrested on the spot for deportation purposes.

So it is theoretically possible that you maybe granted an approval without the USCIS being aware of your crime because records are not always updated in real time.  Unless it is a deportable offense, USCIS may not act on new information till you apply for another petition, for example, renewal or a new status.  In any case, if you have committed any crime since the date of your last application, you should not leave the United States and try to reenter the country.  The immigration checkpoints at an airport or land border crossing are often used by ICE to arrest aliens or to deny entry into the United States.  In such cases it is best to seek legal help.

How to get the blue card?

No, silly, I am not talking about the American Express Blue credit card that has no fee and gives cash back, something not the standard for AmEx.  In this blog post, I am talking about a special type of card given to alien farm workers in America.  The reason this card has a blue color and not green (as in a green card) is because this does not allow permanent residency in America, but it does provide a pathway to a green card after just eight years.  Even better, you can then apply to become an American citizen after 10 years.  In other words, you will become a US passport holder much faster than all other undocumented immigrants, though, the so-called DREAMers get to take the super high-speed train towards naturalization.


So who is eligible for the Blue Card?  If you have done some type of agriculture work in the United States for a minimum of 575 hours or 100 work days (a day is 5.75 hours of work) in at least 2011 and 2012 (if you have more than that, perfect).  Now, 100 workdays might sound like a long time (still, it is only 5 months or so if you worked five days a week) but when you look at the number of hours, 575 hours is just 14 weeks of work, if you worked 40 hour weeks.  In reality, if you worked on a farm during breaks or part time, while enjoying a comfortable life in the city at other times or even gone back to your native country (there is no continuous presence requirement), you might be on a fast track to US citizenship.  Needless to say that you will be approved as long as you do not have felonies or a background with just too many crimes, but still, a good lawyer might be able to help you with those as well.  Also, Gang of 8 politicians have deliberate created so many loopholes that you do not even have to prove that you ever paid any taxes in the past.


How to apply for a Blue Card?  You will need evidence from your employer that you worked on farm, but as is widely known about what happened the Reagan Amnesty, many farmers will be gladly selling those letters for a price if you have never worked on a farm or not worked long enough.  Obviously, it will not be a problem for those who are genuine farm workers, but lawyers are already getting ready to procure fraudulent documents for other aliens who might want to apply using this route.  Since Congress does not want to interview applicants, it should all work out very nicely.

How to change the Blue card to green?  Well, you get to keep it for 8 years so there is plenty of time to change it, but just remember that all you need to do is to work just 100 days each year on a farm but for the rest of the 265 days you are free to work in any job that you want.

Do I have to pay back taxes before RPI status?

The best part of the Obama Immigration Reform bill is that most likely you will not need to pay any back taxes despite the fact that it is in the law.  Actually, if you have kept copies of your tax filings from the past, the IRS might even send you a check.  The only reason Senator Marco Rubio keeps talking about unauthorized immigrants being forced to pay assessed taxes before getting approved for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) legal status is to make him look like this tough guy, which we all know he is not.

What are the reasons that you will not need to pay back taxes to legalize?

  1. If you were paid in cash under the table, it means that your employer has not reported your wages to the IRS.  In other words, there is no record of your employment. 
  2. If you submit W-2 forms to prove your continuous presence, the law does not require DHS to share this information about your employment with the IRS, so as long as during a background check it does not pop up that you are delinquent on your taxes, the USCIS cannot force you to pay taxes (according to the law, the IRS does not share a lot of data with other government agencies and that is how even people illegally in the United States can file tax returns and get refunds).  
  3. If the USCIS forces you to pay back taxes, it means that your employer who paid you off the books will also owe back taxes that employers are required to pay.  Thankfully, the small business lobby (they are even more aggressive than NRA and both Democrats and Republicans are in bed with them) is so nasty that no politician wants to ask them even for a penny.  
  4. It has been argued by think tanks that estimating the income of an alien working without papers and with no record will be so time consuming and costly that it would not cover the cost because the tax collected will be very low due to their low incomes of undocumented workers.
  5. If you have filed a tax return and if the IRS has never audited you and told you that you owe more taxes, you owe nothing more.
  6. If you have been working under more than one name(s) and still manage to meet all the requirements of RPI, the government has no way to find out if you even worked or how much income you had.
  7. You can thank the GOP for shrinking the IRS which has hardly any staff left to go after tax cheats, especially those with low incomes.  There is no way the Republicans will agree to expand the size of the government to collect taxes from any one, even undocumented aliens.

It is important to understand that American laws make it mandatory to pay taxes on all income and you need to do this with the assistance of competent attorneys and accountants; otherwise the risk is too high, not only of being denied for adjustment to RPI but also for tax fraud.  However, if you do it right, you might actually receive a refund.

Can I file for a marriage based green card in RPI status?

In the Obama Immigration Reform, if an unauthorized alien applies to adjust status to RPI, then, for the duration of that status (five years for the so-called DREAMers who entered the United States as children and ten years for all other immigrants), he of she cannot take advantage of other pathways to lawful permanent residency.  For instance, an undocumented immigrant who petitions for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) legal status and is either during the approval process or when it has been granted, gets married to a United States citizen or LPR and is eligible for adjustment to permanent resident status based on marriage, she or he will not be able to do so.  The rationale behind this restriction is that the RPI status alien already has many of the benefits and privileges of a green card holder except of course the permanency part, but this prevents them from jumping the line, so to speak, so that they do not get a green card ahead of all others who have been patiently waiting in line for their turn.

Get RPI visa if living overseas after self deportation


Many people who left the United States on their own after living here legally or illegally and being unable to legalize themselves to permanent status are wondering if they can apply for the Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) legal status under the Obama Immigration Reform bill.  The resounding answer is yes, because the goal of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM) is uniting families (you should have a spouse and/or children who are either US citizens or permanent residents).  As long as an alien would be eligible to be reunited with family members in the US under current immigration laws, it really makes no sense to keep them separated.  If you are one of those former resident who called America home, studied or worked here, but currently live overseas, get ready to line up at the American consulate near you (just kidding; chances are that you might be able to do most of the paperwork online), appear for an interview (yeah, the line might not be so long, but this time, be prepared to go through security), and then get approved so that you can join your family members in the United States of America.  Accordingly, this is a good time to start preparing your documents to show that you lived in the States in the past, broke no laws, and left voluntarily.

Free help for immigrants to apply for RPI status

It may sound as if it is too good to be true but the fact is that under the so-called “Initial Entry, Adjustment, and Citizenship Assistance” (IEACA) in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM), Congress will distribute a total of $100 million to churches, mosques, and other religious organizations along with immigrant support charities.  The money is to be spent on giving free legal help to undocumented aliens so that they can make sure that they are eligible, get their paperwork in order, complete the application, and file the application correctly.

Unfortunately a lot of these churches and charities helping immigrants are run by thugs who wait for free money from the US Government.  They blow most of this grant money by paying huge salaries to themselves and employ their friends and family members with huge pay packages as advisers.  Just so that they don't get caught misusing Federal funds, they will still provide free help as long as you are willing to stand in a line for hours.  When the time comes for applying to adjust your status to RPI, search for such organizations near you and attend their immigration clinics, complementary consultation with lawyer, and help completing your application.

Can foreigners legally in the US apply for RPI status?

Flores writes, "I came to the United States on F-1 Visa in 2009 and have been studying since then.  At this time my visa is still valid, but I am now wondering if I should apply to adjust my status to RPI immigrantAm I eligible even though I am currently legal.  My only concern is that since I came I have been traveling overseas."


If you have not left the United States after 12/31/11 and you meet all other requirements, all you have to do is to wait for your F1 status to expire and voluntarily become illegal (that would make it impossible for you to travel overseas till you get approved as a Registered Provisional Immigrant).  It is very important that an alien not leave the US after 31st December, 2011 to maintain continuous presence, though, it would not be surprising if USCIS relaxes that requirement to forgive brief and innocent absences (a term preferred by the agency meant to not penalize immigrants who left the country to attend to important business overseas but still maintained strong ties to the US -- so if you simply traveled to meet with family or vacation or attend a technical conference but were still enrolled in an American university and pursued your education).  The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM) is designed to encourage illegal immigration because that would be a faster route to legalization than waiting for a legal path to open up.  This is nothing new because even during the Reagan Amnesty, it was better to apply for legalization as an illegal immigrant than as a legal immigrant.

Background check for RPI adjustment of status

The terrorist attack in Boston is going to have a huge impact on the way the USCIS asks FBI and CIA to conduct background checks and provide security clearance on undocumented immigrants applying for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) legal status.  This will result in some undocumented immigrants being unable to legalize if they used a different name and fake documents to enter the US.  The fear is that it is possible for an alien who entered without inspection (EWI) to file for American citizenship by using whatever identity they want (the Federal Government is already dealing with a massive problem of unauthorized immigrants who have simply declared themselves to be Americans). 


Questions are already being raised about the manner in which the USCIS designed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program background check in which the agency granted DACA approval to immigrants with just their American high school ID and not insisting on documents like passports and birth certificates.   After the failure of several agencies to track the movement of Islamic terrorists responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, experts believe that USCIS will conduct a more comprehensive security clearance before granting RPI immigrant status, because otherwise terrorists can acquire American citizenship by simply using their newly acquired identities and hiding their criminal  roots.   Immigration lawyers believe that there will be higher emphasis on confirming the origins of aliens all the way to their birthplace, the countries that they have lived in and traveled to.  If you have used forged papers and several names and documents, be prepared for more questioning.  To prepare for your legalization, you can start off by getting documents like original birth certificate, valid passport, international travel history, schools attended, jobs held, etc.

Deportation for marijuana possession

A new decision by the United States Supreme Court will bring smiles to many legal immigrants who have been caught with possession of marijuana.  In the case Moncrieffe v. Holder, the justices have ruled that a legal immigrant will not automatically be deportable if convicted for possession of a small amount of the narcotic.  Why?  Because under Federal law it is not a felony.  It is not clear if deported immigrants can challenge their deportations in the past or if undocumented aliens who are waiting to legalize will not be disqualified for charges relating to possession of marijuana, but it wouldn't hurt to make their case before an immigration judge who, along with the Department of Justice, will now have more discretion in deportation cases.  Remember that this decision is no reason for you to start doing illegal drugs because the justices have ruled that an immigrant can still be deported, but the immigrant can plead his/her case before a judge for leniency.

Will deportations stop before RPI application process starts?

As I have written before the RPI status applications process may begin in late 2014 or even early 2015 in the most optimistic scenario.  A lot of undocumented aliens who are either already in removal or at some stage of removal proceedings are wondering if deportations will stop right away or at least after the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM) is signed in to law.

The way this process is currently expected to work is that the Obama RPI Immigration Reform law does not have any provision for stopping deportations between now and by the time your status is adjusted to Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI).  Accordingly, ICE will continue to arrest individuals illegally in the country and deport them, along with those who are already in process of removal.  The only hope for unauthorized immigrants who are being deported simply because of their illegal presence (and not for deportable offenses like a felony) in the United States is to plead their case before a judge, who under the new law (the immigration judge did not have this power before), will have more freedom in stopping deportations of immigrants who have family members in the United States who are either citizens or permanent residents.

Will having two ITIN numbers create problem with RPI application?

It is simply a terrible idea to have more than one ITIN the way it is a bad strategy to have two names insofar as immigration to the United States is concerned.  As I have said before, using an ITIN number to work without authorization, pay taxes, sign up for credit cards, purchase cars/homes, etc. is legally a bad idea, but if you are going to be in the US illegally anyway, it is better to have an ITIN number and file your tax return with the IRS.  But, why would you have two ITIN numbers?


The great news is that under the provisions of the Obama Immigration Amnesty, working with a fake SS# or ITIN to work are ignored, and you will be approved for RPI legal status as long as you pay all the income tax you owe prior to approval.  If you have paid whatever you owed, just attach copies of your tax returns with the immigration application and you are good.  For the purpose of the application, though, just use one number that helps you tell a story to the USCIS and when you get approved for adjusting your status to RPI immigrant, go get a valid SSN from the Social Security Office, tell the IRS to cancel your ITIN and transfer your records from the ITIN to the new number.

RPI status possible after DUI conviction?

In most cases, if you were charged with DUI or DWI because you were caught driving while drunk, these are  considered as misdemeanors.  The charge can be enhanced or you can have multiple charges if you were also driving without a valid license or had other violations as well like speeding.  The best part is that the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM) forgives up to three misdemeanors and you will definitely be approved.  Just make sure that you provide all the paperwork related to the court cases.


It can get tricky if you actually hurt someone because then it is a felony (laws vary by state, though), which generally means that you cannot be approved.  So review the documents related to your cases and reconfirm if it was a misdemeanor.  If it was a felony, and you are still here, you must consult with a lawyer before applying.

Can RPI immigrants sponsor family members?

The simple and short answer is that under BSEOIM or Obama Immigration reform, an RPI legal status immigrant cannot sponsor a family member who is currently outside the USA or arrives legally or illegally in the future to the US.  The most you can do is to become the main applicant can and then file petitions on behalf of your spouse and children as derivatives as long as they are already in the United States illegally.  Obviously, once you are rewarded with permanent residency (10 years for most immigrants and just five years for the so-called DREAMers, undocumented aliens who arrived as children), they can sponsor spouse and children who maybe overseas (this is a rare scenario but is possible for those individuals who go overseas to marry and have children while in the RPI status).  Once you get naturalized, you can even sponsor your parents, who can then, in turn, sponsor their other children.

Can you be deported in RPI status?

Well, the reality of the United States law is that you can be deported even after naturalization to US citizenship (assuming that you naturalized using false evidence or lied about your background, though, deportation of naturalized citizens is rarer simply because most liars are caught before their naturalization), but it is every easy to deport green card holders if they commit a felony.  It is, therefore, understandable that individuals in Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) legal status under the provisions of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM) will have a much lower bar for deportation.  The clear message is that if you love America and want to build a good life here, always follow the law.  Take time to learn American laws, and if in doubt, don't do it.  What might be perfectly acceptable in your native country (bribes, playing loud music on your own property, settling disputes through violence, or beating women up because you look down upon women) are very serious crimes here and the more effort you make to understand American society and culture, the better you would do.  Thus, it is not just felonies that you should avoid, just make sure that you never get into trouble with the law, and that means not even speeding.

Do RPI status immigrants get in-state tuition for college?

While undocumented immigrants are banned from all Federal aid, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM) also specifically bans Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) legal status holders from receiving any Federal benefits, including student loans.  Luckily, the RPI visa holders will be required (prior to this only some states provide in state tuition and the fight to do so was intense in most states) by the states henceforth to provide them with instate tuition because Section 505 of IIRAIRA is repealed.  So as long as you can prove that you are a resident of a state (the residency requirements are different for each state), you will be eligible for instate tuition and that can mean some students will still be able to graduate from college, despite lack of Federal funds.  So, in order to plan for your preparation for adjusting to RPI status, you might also want to take into consideration in which state you would like to go to college and time your move there.

Adjustment to RPI status if used fake name and documents

If you are one of those people who used the passport and visa of another person to enter the United States legally, used another name(s) while here, or assumed the identity of an American citizen, have documents that are in several different names, or some other situation in which you have used multiple identities, you have a very messy situation to adjust your status to Registered Provision Immigrant (RPI) legal status as part of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM).


So let us assume that you came with a passport and visa that belongs to someone else (by the way that is a serious crime and deportable offense under US law) and if you were fingerprinted at the airport, as far as the United States is concerned, that is your identity and there is no way you can change it.  Now, if you can provide evidence of being here by 12/31/2011, prove continuous presence, have not committed a felony and no more than three misdemeanors, meet other requirements like paid taxes if employed in the past, and file a completed application -- assuming that USCIS does not insist on looking at original birth certificates as it does for green card applications -- chances are that you will be approved with your new identity.


The problem will come for those of you who entered with one name and then used one or more names to live your life.  So if you entered USA as John Doe, and your real name is Harry Doe, and then worked as Mark Doe and rented an apartment as George Doe, you may have a hard time putting a complete application together.  In all cases of using forged and/or fraudulent documents and identities, it is best to consult with an attorney.

When will RPI status applications begin?

Based on the most optimistic timeline for the passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM), it is expected that once President Barack Obama signs it into law some time this year, there are triggers that have to be met, before the USCIS will get the go-ahead to start accepting applications some time in 2014.  In addition, the USCIS has to develop the applications process and hire staff members to process the millions of applications that are expected to be filed.  Thus, I expect that the application forms will be available in the second half of next year.  Typically, it takes about six months to a year to decide an immigration case, and that means the first set of approvals should come in early 2015.  This is the timing you should plan on and I encourage you to get your documents in order for the RPI immigrant visas in the meantime and start saving the thousands of dollars you will need in fees, penalty, and back taxes.  Also remember that the window to apply will not be open-ended and will most likely be just one year (it maybe extended but it is better to not plan on it).  Therefore, it is better to file early because immigration petitions are processed on first-come-first-served basis.

How should I get RPI status if I came after cutoff date?

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM) has a cut off date of 12/31/2011 and that means that either through a stamp in your passport or through other means if you crossed the border illegally, you should be able to prove that you were in the United States by this date.  Since this is one of the most important requirements, if you do not satisfy it, you are out of luck to apply for adjustment to Registered Provision Immigrant (RPI) legal status

The only good news is that despite the big noise that politicians are making about eVerify and other programs to make illegal employment difficult, the reality is that American employers are addicted to undocumented workers willing to work for lower wages.  As soon as the eligible group of illegal immigrants legalize under the 2013 Obama Immigration Reform, they would start to demand better wages and benefits, and will leave if they don't get them.  In addition, many unauthorized immigrants are currently working in low-end jobs because they are unable to work for big employers who demand valid documents.  They too will quit these jobs and this will create a huge demand for illegal workers and those immigrants who are unable to legalize can take these jobs, maybe even at higher wages due to greater demand.  Obviously, there is a risk that you will be caught and deported, but the risk will actually go down as enforcement will be cut back assuming that all illegals have been legalized.

Can employment records be used as evidence for continuous presence?

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM) is very generous to both undocumented aliens and their employers who employed them (at this point it is not relevant if the employers knew or not that the employee was illegally in the country and was presenting fraudulent documents) by clearly stating that the immigrants can use records of their employment to support their application requirements.  Based on this evidence, the employer cannot be prosecuted for illegal employment of undocumented workers, which is otherwise a crime.  This means that employers can go ahead and issue copies of records without fear of being prosecuted.  The only thing to remember is that in case an employee made a false claim to citizenship on Form I-9, the immigration petition to adjust to RPI status will be denied if the petitioner was over the age of 18 at the time of signing the form.  In other words, you should expect that the USCIS will be issuing a lot of subpoenas to employers directing them to submit I-9 records.

Is RPI a card or visa in the passport?

According to the latest plans, undocumented immigrants who will be approved for the so-called RPI immigration status visa as part of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIM), will receive a tamper proof, secure smart card, similar to a green card (there is no plan to actually paste a document in your passport so when you check in at an airport outside the United States to travel to the US, you will present both your passport and the RPI card as proof that you are authorized to travel to the US)  While it has been very easy to forge Social Security cards, this new card will have the latest technologies that will make in nearly impossible to forge it.  All the data related to your identity and legal immigration status will be embedded in it and can be downloaded by a reader.  So when you arrive at an airport or border check point, the CBP officer can see almost all your details with just a swipe or tap (while the officer may not put a stamp in your passport when you enter the United States, you will still be required to carry your passport with you).  You will also use this card to show to an employer that you are authorized to work in the United States.  The card will be used by you while applying for a driver's license.  It can also be used as an ID to board a domestic flight or buy alcohol or enter a bar and wherever else you are required to show your identification in case you do not have a driver's license.  If stopped by a police officer or at a checkpoint, this card can be used to prove that you are legally in the US.

What status do I get while application for RPI immigration is pending?

The short answer is that almost all undocumented aliens who are in the United States illegally, while their RPI immigrant visa status applications are being processed by the USCIS, they will have no legal status, and since the applications might take months, or even years, to be approved, they will continue to experience misery of being without papers.  During the waiting period after filing the paperwork, the immigrant will not be able to work legally or travel out of the country or apply for driver's licenses or do any of the other things that RPI status holding immigrants will be allowed to do.  It is too early to predict it but maybe some states might allow them some privileges merely on the basis of having proof of submitting an application.  I am optimistic, though, that once the Obama Comprehensive Immigration Reform is signed into law, chances are that unless you commit a deportable offense, you will not be harassed just for being in the country without any legal status.  Be prepared though for months or even years of wait as the USCIS is forced to process millions of applications in a time of government austerity.

Should I submit the I601A waiver or wait for immigration reform?

One of the great provisions for family members of US citizens to legalize an illegal family member is the so-called I-601A form that allows them to wait for their turn in the United States, leave briefly for their native country for an interview at the consulate, and then simply reenter the United States legally.  However, if the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 becomes law, these undocumented aliens will gain a legal Registered Provision Immigrant (RPI) status without having to leave the country, and depending on the age at which they entered the country, receive their green cards in 5 or 10 years.  While each situation is unique, my recommendation will be to still pursue the waiver of grounds of inadmissibility process because then the alien becomes a green card holder right away, while the probability of Obama Immigration Reform becoming law is extremely remote, and even if it does, it will be years before the approvals start to roll in.

Adjust to RPI immigration status after working illegally

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 is definitely very generous to undocumented aliens who worked without authorization using a fraudulent SSN or were paid in cash under the table are not going to be prosecuted for these crimes (the understanding is that there was no other option for them and US employers were employing them breaking other US laws themselves).  The only issue is if you knowingly made a false claim to US citizenship after the age of 18.  What this means is that if you worked without proper papers and paid income taxes to the IRS and the state, you are in the clear.  Expect to be approved for a Registered Provision Immigrant (RPI) legal status visa, and that will subsequently lead to permanent residency, and after that naturalization to US citizenship.  If you failed to pay taxes for the total duration of your stay in the country or for some years, that too will not make you ineligible either; you will just simply need to pay all the back taxes (with interest and penalties) before approval.

Can I work for the Military with RPI status?

Absolutely.  The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 stipulates that any alien granted the Registered Provision Immigrant (RPI) legal status will be eligible to enlist in the United States armed forces.  It is important to remember that in addition to having the opportunity to serve the people of the United States, those immigrants who meet the requirements of their service, and subject to a few other conditions (the Military may have its own requirements with regards to misdemeanors), are put on a fast track to permanent residence and naturalization.  They also apply for these benefits through slightly different channels and some of their fees can be waived (yes, it is pointless to conduct a background check on a serving member of the Military because they are being watched any way).

Eligible for Obama Immigration Reform if claimed US citizenship?

Like all other United States immigration laws, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 will also deny adjustment to Registered Provision Immigrant (RPI) legal status if an alien (whether legal or illegal) ever made a claim to be an American citizen, and thus, gained benefits and privileges available only citizens.  A huge number of illegal immigrants out of desperation or ignorance have repeatedly broken this law and there is an extensive paper trail documenting their criminal behavior.

How does the USCIS find out that a non-citizen made a fraudulent claim to be a US citizen?

First of all, the USCIS already knows that this crime is widespread, because every year so many undocumented aliens are prosecuted and thousands of immigration petitions are denied.  The agents even know how the scheme works and they are extremely good at sniffing out who may have done so.  However, like any other legal process, when you apply for adjustment to RPI status, you will also be asked a question if you have ever claimed to be a US citizen, and if you have done so, you have to tell the truth .  By lying, you are risking not only chances of your legalization, you are also putting yourself at risk of being arrested, deported, and banned for life from entering the United States of America.  Depending on the information you provide in your application, the USCIS can simply subpoena your file and that will contain a record of what you wrote and many workplaces will still have your I-9 forms, and they are required by law to comply (and most do willingly unless they are willing to pick a fight with Uncle Sam over the cost of the paperwork).  Also remember that you will be swearing to tell the truth in your application and if you are found to be lying, your application will be rejected and you will be prosecuted.


What can I do if I made a claim to American citizenship but still want to become legal?

If an immigrant made the claim before the 18the birthday, then, this will not be a problem, and such aliens should confess their crime.  If the claim was made (also) after the age of 18 but the applicant lacked the mental competence, she or he can still be forgiven, but the alien will be required to make that case before a judge and the judge will look into this more closely.  Was it an innocent mistake that you thought you were an American because your parents told you a lie and you believed it or whether you knowingly made such claims over and over again even when you knew the reality so that you could get into college or get student aid or be able to work without the employer asking uncomfortable questions.

I don't think the USCIS can catch me because so many other illegal immigrants have not been caught:   

This is a common refrain on forums frequented by undocumented aliens that they personally know individuals who were never caught by the USCIS even though they claimed to be US citizens or stole the identities of US citizens.  However, as it might very well be the case, this is generally not a good assumption to make because you are putting your chance at legalization at risk.  On the contrary, it is better to work with the hypothesis that you will be caught and find out legal remedies to mitigate the risk.  In other words, hire the best attorney you can to discuss your legal options.

What documents required for RPI status application?

Under the Obama Immigration Reform Bill, undocumented aliens will be adjust to the Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status starting within the next 1-2 years.  Obviously, till USCIS publishes the complete application process details (as outlined in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013), along with forms and evidence required, it is too early to predict what proof will be needed for the petition, but based on how the process works for hundreds of other such visas issued by the United States Government, here is a list of docs that you may start to prepare in the coming months, so that when the time comes, all you need to do is to complete the application:

  1. Passport from your native country.  It should be valid at the time of applying.  If you do not have one currently you should apply for one right away.
  2. Birth certificate.  If it not in English, it would need to be translated into English, since all the paperwork will be accepted only in English.
  3. If you entered the United States legally, that is, you entered after inspection at an airport or border checkpoint, the passport that you used to enter.  It will be great if you also have the I-94 form that you completed.
  4. If you came to the United States illegally, meaning entry without inspection (EWI), you will need solid documentation that you came prior to December 31, 2011.  It can be in form of school/work records, immunization record, etc.
  5. Proof of continuous presence.  It can be documents related to school/college/work/bank/leases, etc. that demonstrate that you did not leave the country and have lived here since.

  6. If you got into trouble with the law, paperwork related to the court case.  The more documentation that you have the better it is going to be because then the USCIS can decide your case easily rather than wait for documents to come in from other government agencies or issue an RFE to you.  So, if you lost the paperwork, start making the rounds of the courts in which you were charged to get copies of the documents.  DO NOT even think of hiding a criminal past assuming that the USCIS will not be able to find it or it was too minor.  Even if you used a fake name to commit a crime, you maybe found out, so consult an attorney.
  7. Proof of filing taxes whether done with an ITIN or a fake Social Security number, as long as the tax documents have your real name.
  8. Proof of all the jobs that you have had and the amount of money that you have made in each one of them (W-2 forms).  Apparently, working illegally is not considered a crime in Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and therefore, it is best to come clean, even if you were paid in cash under the table.
  9. Start saving money right now.  There is going to be $500 penalty fee and it is estimated the cost of the application will be somewhere between $500 and $1000 per person.  While there will be discounts for multiple members of a family and no penalty for minors and DREAMers, you should save the money for all adult applicants.  In addition, if you have not filed taxes, you will also need to pay whatever taxes you owe.

Green card process after RPI status

While receiving the Registered Prospective Immigrant status will give all the privileges of a legal resident in America to illegal immigrants, it is a good idea to get the permanent resident status because that is a must-take step on the pathway to US citizenship.  Below are the requirements to get permanent residency in the United States for undocumented aliens who will take advantage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013:

  1. Maintain continuous presence for 10 years.
  2. Pay taxes each year, as per the law, like anyone else.
  3. Work in the US regularly. Alternatively, you can have someone else provide financial guarantee for you in case you are a housewife.  The job has to be within the United States, so you cannot relocate overseas as an expatriate for your company.  
  4. Knowledge of US Civics and English.  This will be tested on the lines of what happens at the naturalization interview.
  5. Pay a $1,000 penalty, in addition to standard application fee for permanent resident that maybe applicable at that time.

Can I apply for Obama amnesty if I am being deported?

Some illegal immigrants who were deported will be allowed to apply for adjustment of status to RPI, so that they can reunite with their family in the US, in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, there is another very nice provision:  if you are without papers and have either received removal orders or are already in deportation proceedings (assuming that you are otherwise eligible for RPI status), you will be allowed to apply to get the Registered Provision Immigrant visa.  When you apply your deportation will be put on hold, you will receive a work permit and valid Social Security number, and will be able to go on with their lives like any other undocumented alien who legalizes with Obama Amnesty.  The paperwork related to removal orders will be cleared from your record as well so that you get a fresh start.

Are deported immigrants eligible for RPI visas?

In the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, there is strong emphasis on family reunification, particularly where family members in the United States are either American citizens or permanent residents.  What that means is that if you were deported for non-criminal reasons you can apply to re-enter the United States in RPI status if you are the spouse of or parent of a child who is United States citizen or lawful permanent resident or a DREAMer (these are immigrants who came the country prior to their 15th birthday and are eligible to adjust their status to RPI visa under the Obama amnesty if they get a high school diploma and then either serve in the US Military or go to college).  The process, obviously, will work a little different for those aliens who are outside the USA, because they will not be able to enter the country before they are approved.  This provision cannot be used to bring family members who were never in the USA nor can it be used if they were not married at the time of deportation (meaning that you cannot marry after they were deported).

What do illegal immigrants get from RPI visa?

The list of privileges and advantages of applying for the Registered Provision Immigrant (RPI) legal status visa is huge:

  1. Work permit with a valid Social Security number that will allow you to work for any employer in the US, though, some jobs for the Federal and State governments may not be open to you.  Having a past as an illegal immigrant may also jeopardize security clearance for some types of jobs with the government.
  2. Travel anywhere in the world, though, like any green card holder, you will need to maintain strong ties to the United States.  In other words, you cannot be away for too long and will need to maintain a house here, pay taxes, and return within six months.  In order to get a green card or renew your RPI card, you will need to show that you have been working regularly and that is not possible if you are traveling in a foreign country or living some place outside the US (students maybe able to get a waiver if they participate in study abroad programs).  Obviously, you will not need to file for an advanced parole before leaving.  Like any other legal resident, you will simply show your card and passport when passing through immigration at the airport or border crossing.
  3. Receive all other privileges like applying for a driver's license, other specialized licenses like those for nursing, etc.
  4. Apply for credit cards, open bank accounts, buy insurance, purchase homes/cars, get student loans, and almost any other actions that are needed to live the American dream.

How do illegal families apply for RPI status?

The great news about the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 is that the Obama Amnesty makes it easier and cheaper to apply for Registered Provision Immigrant (RPI) legal status as a family.  This is how the process works:  one of the illegal immigrants in the family becomes the principal applicant and if this person has a spouse and/or children who are also in the United States without documents, they can all apply as derivatives of the principal applicant, meaning that they will be able to file their applications as a packet (this also means that less paperwork and if you hire an attorney to file your petition, you will be charged for just one application rather than individual forms).  This will further simplify the process because tracking the application or attending any in-person interviews at a local USCIS office or other matters can be dealt as a group.  I must emphasize that all the members of the family must meet all the eligibility requirements of RPI legal status, meaning that they should be in the United States as well.  Until someone receives a green card, they will not be able to sponsor family members who are overseas.

Am I eligible for RPI visa?

Under the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (popularly known as the Obama Amnesty), any undocumented immigrant without authorization to be in the USA and working without papers can now receive a “Registered Provision Immigrant” (RPI) legal status, which can then be used to apply for a green card, and eventually, US citizenship.  Here are the eligibility requirement to get the documents that will allow you to live without fear, travel overseas without restrictions, have a work permit that will let you work anywhere in the country, apply for driver's license, and pretty much live like any other legal resident (with minor limitations on receiving welfare):

  • Entry, legal or illegal, anywhere in the country prior to December 31,2011.  If you entered after being processed at a border check point by an immigration agent/Customs and Border Patrol or CBP officer, then you will have an I-94 or other forms attached in your passport.  You should also have a stamp in your passport showing your date of entry.  If you entered without inspection (EWI), meaning you crossed the border illegally, you will need other forms of solid evidence of being in the country on that date or a prior date.  
  • Continuous presence in the US after December 31, 2011.  If you left the country and never returned or were out of the country for too long, you are not eligible.  To demonstrate the so-called continuous presence, you will need evidence of being in school or having a job or renting an apartment and other such documents that can definitely prove that you were living continuously.

  • Payment of a $500 penalty fee + Taxes for all the income earned in the US since your arrival + Application fee.  Student DREAMers and minors do not have to pay the $500 penalty.  If you have paid your taxes even using a false Social Security number, you can use that as proof as long as it will not trigger an identity theft conviction (if you paid taxes with ITIN you are protected).  If you have not paid taxes on some or all of your income, the taxes will be calculated by the USCIS and you will be required to pay them over time.
  • Pass a security clearance and background check.  If you have committed a felony or aggravated felony, do not even fantasize about applying.  Also only up to 3 misdemeanors are allowed.  While registering to vote is a not a disqualification, but actually casting a vote will disqualify you.  Additionally, you may also be rejected for criminal, national security, public health, or other morality grounds, though, it is not clear what these are (but it is safe to assume that engaging in terrorism activities or polygamy and other such crimes will not be tolerated).  USCIS will have more information on this, but if you are a person with a doubtful background, consult with a competent immigration lawyer before applying because otherwise you will be arrested and deported.

Is it a crime to give a fake Social Security number?

In the United States, the only time someone will ask you for your SSN it is for something important (like applying for job to prove that you are authorized to work, or applying for a financial relationship with an institution in form of credit card/loan or signing up for a service with recurring payments, like electricity or cable).  While you may not realize it, immediately thereafter, you might also be signing your name or at least verbally agreeing to the terms, which are in form of a legal contract.  Thus, if you give a false SS#, you are essentially lying (committing perjury), and that has serious legal consequences.  In case of a business, things can get pretty bad, for instance, you might lose the privilege the business extended to you, but they can also sue you, but when you are in front of a Government agent of any kind and you provide a false name or identifying information like SS#, you have chosen to put yourself in a lot of legal trouble.


How does the IRS detect fake SSN?

The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) is the agency that issues new SS# after determining the eligibility of recipients through an application and checking documentation.  The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the agency that collects taxes from individuals and businesses, issues refunds, and prosecutes tax fraud.  For all practical purposes the two agencies are sisters and work very closely. 

The collaborative process works like this: when an employer has employees on payroll, on a quarterly basis the employer will file documents with the IRS about its workforce and make payments to the Department of Treasury.  At the end of the year, the employer will submit comprehensive data in form of W-2 and W-3 forms to employees and SSA.  Then through the IRS/SSA Reconciliation Process the two agencies make sure that the data processed by the SSA and IRS is the same (that is why if you do not report some income to the IRS or forget to take a deduction for which documents were submitted by a bank, for example, the IRS software will immediately detect it).

It is during this process that if there is a mismatch between a name and other identifying information about the individual (remember all the data that is collected at the time of receiving a SSN?), the SSA and IRS will find out that there is either an error or a crime is being committed.  Since human beings can make mistakes (despite the word of caution about getting your taxes right, particularly your SS#), you do get a chance to rectify the mistake, but if there is no response from the individual who has a fraudulent Social Security number or the response is not satisfactory or it is clear that the criminal is an undocumented alien, the matter is referred to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which can use ICE agents to catch the alien.  In other cases, the IRS agents work with police departments and the FBI to catch the criminals.

Can an immigrant without a work permit do odd jobs?

The correct answer is No.  Legally speaking, anyone who is not authorized to be in the United States should not be here.  Secondly, not all authorized foreigners in the United States -- tourists, business visitors, students, spouses of many categories of nonimmigrants -- are allowed to work, or have severe restrictions on how they can work and their visa will typically spell that out (for example, some students can work on campus for a limited number of hours each week).

In the eyes of the law, there is no such thing as odd jobs, because as long it is a job (meaning you get paid for it), you have violated the terms of the visa or broken yet another law (if you are in the country illegally).  That is why, if you babysit or clean someone's home or engage in similar other tasks, you need to be authorized to work, and based on your income, file a tax return (even if the income was earned illegally).

Can I get a green card if I came to US under fake name?

Entering the United States on a fraudulent document is typically a felony and then depending on the situation there can be other associated crimes.  Assuming your fingerprints are into the US Government system and they are associated with the identity you used to enter the country, if you apply for permanent residency using your legal name, you will automatically be identified as a criminal who committed document fraud, which typically results in jail time in the US, followed by deportation, and permanent bar to enter the US.  If you ever used a false passport, green card or visa to legally cross the border or enter through an airport, you have already broken the law, and it is best not to apply for adjustment of status.  While Obama Amnesty is going to be very lenient on illegal aliens, it is highly unlikely that document fraud will be forgiven.

Can someone buy a home with a fake Social Security number?

I guess your question most likely is that if you can get a mortgage and/or home equity line of credit (HELOC) to purchase a home, because there are no restrictions on purchasing a home in the United States by anyone as long as they can pay for it.  Generally speaking foreigners and illegal immigrants buy homes either for living or as investments by paying in cash.  No one would bother with your legal status.  Obviously, you will need to pay property taxes but to do that a SSN is not necessary (though, if you do so, it is a good idea to get an ITIN, particularly if you have other sources of incomes in the United States and definitely if you rent the house so that you can file your taxes on the rental income and claim the property taxes as a deduction).  Going back to the question of financing the home, typically most banks give loans primarily to legal residents who have a substantial credit history, job, other assets, etc.  The conclusion is that submitting a false SS# will most likely be identified by the bank (which are fairly good at detecting identity theft), but if not, it is still a crime to submit fraudulent information to a bank, because if something goes wrong the bank can sue you for fraud, and that can cause a lot of complications.

What is the punishment for illegal immigrants using fake names?

It is a very popular trick among undocumented aliens to use assumed names (sometimes after stealing an identity) to hide their real identity or to hide their criminal past or just to keep their real identity from having any paper trail in America as long as they are in the country illegally.  Lawfully speaking, using a false identity is a crime, especially in a legal setting.  So for instance, if you file a tax return with your fake name, you have broken the law.  Similarly, most transactions that you might engage in without thinking, for example with a bank or car dealer or credit card company or utility provider, have clauses that clearly make it illegal for you to use a made up identity.  It seems that many people who benefited from fake identities in the United States will pay a very heavy price when it comes to taking advantage of Obama Amnesty which requires that even as an undocumented alien you provide a lot of documentation proving your entry into the country or that you went to school here or had jobs or owned/rented homes, etc.  If you lived your life under a different name but your birth certificate and passport have your real name, you are out of luck with the amnesty.