Senators and White House Reach Agreement on Immigration Reform

Key senators and the White House reached an agreement on a plan that would create a temporary worker program that would allow millions to legalize. The plan would create a temporary worker program to bring new arrivals to the U.S. A separate program would cover agricultural workers. New high-tech enforcement measures also would be instituted to verify that workers are here legally.

The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrant to come forward and obtain “z” visas after paying fees and a $5,000 fine. This would ultimately get them on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries first before obtaining permanent residence status.

Those applying would have to come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed.

Perhaps, the biggest change is that the proposed plan would shift from an immigration system primarily weighted toward family ties toward one with preferences for people with advanced degrees and sophisticated skills. Family connections alone would no longer be enough to qualify for a green card — except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens. Furthermore, new limits would apply to U.S. citizens seeking to bring foreign-born parents into the country.

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