NPR Story
3:20 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

In Obama's Plan The Pathway To Citizenship Will Take 13 Years

In President Barack Obama’s leaked White House immigration reform proposal, the controversial pathway to citizenship is outlined.

In the draft, undocumented immigrants would have to wait 13 years after the bill passes until they could be naturalized citizens.

The Miami Heraldpublished the draft text, “Legalization Of Undocumented Individuals” and the Washington Post’sWonkblog breaks it down three steps.

Here’s the first:

First, undocumented immigrants must apply for “Lawful Prospective Immigrant Status,” which would allow them to work and travel outside the United States with some restrictions, but which would bar them from receiving any government benefits. Prospective immigrants would have to pay back taxes and prove they’re pursuing a Education Department-approved course of study to learn English and an “understanding of the history and Government of the United States,” according to the draft. They’d also have to apply to renew their provisional legal status every four years.

What are the next two steps? Waiting.

For green card applicants, undocumented immigrants need to wait either eight years after the bill passes or the queue in front of them clears — whichever comes first. In some lines the wait times for visas are decades long.

After gaining their green card, the now-legal residents usually need to wait another five years for citizenship. But if current trends continue, a majority of Mexican legal residents will not apply for citizenship.

A recent Pew Hispanic Research study found that almost two-thirds of legal residents from Mexico have not applied for United States citizenship.

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