It is first mandatory to understand who the undocumented immigrants are. Undocumented immigrants are a part of the United States who do not have legal status. Most of them were brought up in the country and they know only the United States.
There are around 11 million such immigrants who had either crossed the borders illegally or overstayed their non-immigrant visas. They do not have proper immigration papers but none of them wish to leave the United States.
They want the country to legalize them and permit them to pursue their American dream. Many undocumented immigrants have children born in the United States and such children are U.S. citizens. If the undocumented immigrants are deported from the country, families would be separated and the children of undocumented immigrants who were born in America would suffer.
Under the current law, undocumented immigrants cannot apply for legal status and they cannot remain in the United States. They will be deported and they need to remain in their home countries until they become eligible for immigrant visas and then travel to the United States. This is not as easy a task as we think and this would take years to complete.
Moreover, the country cannot identify and deport all the 11 million undocumented immigrants from America. Most undocumented immigrants have settled in America and they are likely to become stateless if they are removed from America. Under the current immigration laws, undocumented immigrants cannot apply for Green Cards and they will be deported if encountered by law enforcement authorities.
Undocumented immigrants would become eligible for U.S. Green Cards if the immigration laws are reformed. That is why lawmakers and immigration activists believe that immigration reform is essential. An immigration reform bill was introduced by eight bipartisan senators in 2013 and that bill would have permitted eligible undocumented immigrants to apply for lawful status. But this did not happen as the bill must first be passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by the President. The Senate bill would have created a new status called, “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (RPI) status. Undocumented residents who establish that they were present in America on 31st December 2011 and that they are not criminals could come out and undergo background checks and apply for this status, which is only a temporary status. This renewable status would be valid for 6 years.
To become eligible for Green Cards, undocumented immigrants must first become Registered Provisional Immigrants and live in the country for ten long years. After ten years, they could apply for Green Cards. At the time of applying for Green Cards, they must establish that they would not become public charges and that they have maintained clean criminal records. Likewise, they must pay their back taxes and fines. At the time of applying for RPI status, they need to pay a $500 penalty and another $500 penalty at the time of applying for renewal. Likewise, $1,000 must be paid at the time of applying for Green Cards. Apart from the fines, they would be required to pay the required form filing and the application processing fees. Hence, undocumented immigrants would have become eligible for U.S. Green Cards if the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013”, was passed.
Many other bills were introduced over the years but nothing seems to be close to being passed into law.
For undocumented immigrants, there is no direct pathway to Green Card but they might be eligible to apply for Deferred Action if they meet some requirements.
There might be other ways to become a Green Card holder so connect with an immigration lawyer to understand your options.