Tips on Preparing for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
At this point in the discourse of comprehensive immigration reform, it is too early to know the specific rules and procedures that would be part of a legalization program, or whether one will be implemented at all.
At this point in the discourse of comprehensive immigration reform, it is too early to know the specific rules and procedures that would be part of a legalization program, or whether one will be implemented at all. You should be wary of those offering to prepare applications for a fee, and wait until more concrete information is known.
At the same time, there is no harm in taking a few precautionary steps to prevent difficulties or save time later on.
1. Keep records of your presence in the United States. This can include records from a hospital stay, school records, apartment lease documents, or utility bills. If you don’t have a valid passport from your country of nationality, obtain one from the nearest consulate.
2. Obtain dispositions of all arrests. If you have ever been arrested, go to the clerk’s office of the county where you were arrested and ask for a certificate of disposition. You should bring photo identification and know the date of the arrest and the name you used at the time.
3. Pay taxes. Those who do not have a social security number can still file an income tax return through the use of an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). For information on how to apply for an ITIN you can visit www.irs.gov/individuals.
4. Learn English. Though unknown whether this will be a requirement of a legalization program, naturalization applicants are currently required to know a basic level of English. You can find a list of low-cost or free English classes in the tri-state area by visiting www.cuny.edu/citizenshipnow.
If and when comprehensive immigration reform does become a reality, it will bring the millions of undocumented immigrants already in this country out of the shadows and allow them to truly become part of and contributors to American society. It will address the inefficiencies in our system in a fair and meaningful way. We look forward to the outcome of legislative efforts and will be eager to report positive changes in the months to come.