Michael Phulwani is a prominent attorney admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey and India. He practices immigration and nationality laws and visa matters in the USA and abroad. He is a frequent lecturer on immigration laws and co-hosts several TV and radio programs on immigration. In this column, Phulwani will discuss frequent problems relating to immigration legislation and answer questions from our readers. All questions should be forwarded to Michael Phulwani, 888 Maywood Avenue, Maywood, NJ 07607.
By Michael Phulwani
On September 29, Senator Menendez (D-NJ) and Sena-tor Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Comprehensive Immigra-tion Reform Act of 2010. This document, which has been prepared by the American Immigration Lawyers Associa-tion (AILA) summarizes the bill. Note that this summary was prepared under extremely short time constraints and may have inaccuracies or omissions.
Title I — Border enforcement Border Enforcement Trig-gers:
The bill sets conditions that must be met before undocumented individuals can adjust status under the legalization program.
Title II — Interior enforcement:
A. Prevention of unauthor-ized entries and removals
US visit: Requires DHS to implement the “exit” component of the US Visit program to track the departure of noncitizens.
Illegal entry and reentry: The bill increases civil penalties for illegal entry and criminal penalties for illegal reentry to up to 25 years imprisonment.
Voluntary departure: The bill revises voluntary departure (VD) procedures, conditions of VD, and penalties for failing to comply. Period to depart: 180 days before removal proceedings, 90 days during.
Biometric screening: Aliens who do not comply with lawful biometric information re-quests are inadmissible.
Refugees and asylees/
l Lawful permanent resident status of refugees and asylees: The bill provides that refugees and their derivatives are LPRs as of the date of their admittance, that spouses/children of asylees can apply for derivative status at anytime, that derivatives of asylees outside the US are LPRs as of date of admittance to the US, that derivatives of asylees inside the US can apply for LPR status at any time, and that DHS or the AG can waive inadmissibility or deportability grounds.
lElimination of time limit: Eliminates the one-year time limit for filing for asylum.
Title III — Worksite enforcement:
Unlawful employment of aliens: The bill establishes a mandatory national employment verification system. It includes provisions regarding the employment of unauthorized aliens, the verification of employee work authorization, the requirements and protocols for a national employment verification system (currently, E-Verify), and protections against discriminatory immigration-related employment practices.
The bill updates the documents that employees can present for verification of identity and employment authorization including the use of biometric data or other identifying information, an enhanced drivers’ license with additional security features or certain other passports. It creates stricter requirements for the recordkeeping of employment authorization documentation.
The bill makes it unlawful for an employer to knowingly or with reckless disregard hire, continue to employ, or use a contract to obtain the labor of an alien, who is unauthorized to work. The bill also makes it unlawful for employers to require a potential employee to post a bond or security or to provide a financial guarantee against any potential liability related to hiring that individual. Employers with federal grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements who are deemed repeat violators of the employment verification provisions are subject to disbarment procedures for up to five years.
Increasing security and integrity of social security cards and immigration documents: The bill requires that within 2 years, only fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant, and wear-resistant Social Security cards will be issued. Any request for a replacement card will be subject to a SSA determination that there is a legitimate purpose behind the request. Additionally, the bill adds criminal penalties related to the fraudulent use, sale, and alteration or counterfeiting of social security cards or numbers. Within one year after the bill’s enactment, the DHS Secretary will issue only machine readable, tamper-resistant employment authorization documents that use biometric identifiers.
Title IV — Reforming America’s legal Immigration system:
New nonimmigrant worker program: The bill establishes a new H-2C nonimmigrant visa category for alien workers and their dependents. An alien must have an employment offer, establish that he or she is qualified, pay a $100 visa fee, undergo a medical exam and a background check, establish admissibility, and provide other relevant information. The H-2C visa will be issued for three years and can be renewed once for an additional three-year period. The alien can apply for a new H-2C visa if they leave the US for at least one year.
The employer must demonstrate efforts to recruit workers already authorized to work in the US Attestations by the employer will be required. It allows employment only in areas, where the unemployment rate is less than 10 percent for workers, who have not completed education beyond a high school diploma. H-2C visa holders cannot be treated as independent contractors, cannot work in the construction field, and they cannot be denied any remedies available to a similarly situated US worker.
The H-2C alien’s employer can petition for adjustment of status. The alien can also self-petition after four years.
To be continued: In forthcoming articles, we will provide additional information on this bill, including Family & Employment based Visa Reforms, and Legalization of undocumented aliens.
Courtesy: American Immi-gration Lawyers Association.