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Details of immigration bill released

When people are hard at work in order to send money home to their families, what's happening in the news can be difficult to keep track of. But there's currently a bill in the Senate that has the potential to impact millions of immigrants who are either here currently or who intend to come to the U.S. in the future so that they can pursue their dreams.

According to details of the legislation, which were provided in summary form to multiple news agencies, unauthorized immigrants who have come to the U.S. will be able to obtain citizenship more quickly through some of the new rules laid out by senators. For example, among people who came to the U.S. before December 31, 2011, they will be allowed to apply for "Registered Provisional Immigration Status," which will afford them with the legal capability of staying with in the U.S. However, they have to pay as much as $500 in taxes and penalties and they will also need to show that they haven't been convicted of three or more crimes.

Once this all checks out, immigrants will maintain this provisional status for a period of 10 years. Once this time passes, they'll then be able to earn a green card. Before they're given one, though, they have to establish that they understand English, in addition to paying a $1,000 fee.

Expanded E-Verify use, new visas
There will also be greater use of the E-Verify system, which companies have been using with more regularity in order to determine whether people are legally authorized to reside in the country. Those who fail to meet the various requirements that enable them to work in the U.S. will no longer be eligible to work.

What may be viewed as one of the best components of the new immigration bill, which has yet to become law, is the production of more visas. Of course, visas are what give immigrants the ability to enter the U.S. There are limits to them, however, as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services only hands out so many in any given year. But should the bill become law, the annual cap on H1-B visas for high-skilled workers would jump from 65,000 to 110,000. The absolute maximum handed out would be 180,000.

The bill also stipulates that a brand new visa may be created, called a "W" visa. Though it's still unclear how many of these visas would be created, they would go to any worker who's not in an agricultural-based employment sector. They could then work for employers in the U.S., provided these business are registered.

As for those immigrants who work on farms and in other agriculture-oriented jobs, those who came to the U.S. and are undocumented would have to continue working for that same company or farm owner. After five years, they would then become eligible to apply for a green card.

Though this isn't the first time lawmakers have collaborated in order to try and come up with a comprehensive pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants, political observers believe this bill has a good chance of clearing the necessary hurdles to be signed into law. Eight senators were charged with crafting the bill, led by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina.

The overwhelming majority of Americans support undocumented workers' ability to stay in the U.S. In a recent survey conducted jointly by CNN and ORC International, 84 percent of respondents said they should be allowed to continue working.

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