Today in a 220-213 vote by Congress, a social spending bill was approved which includes an extensive immigration reform package. It is perhaps the most sweeping and large immigration reform package that congress has reviewed since the mid 1980s, although still remains a reduced version from what many advocates were looking for. One of the biggest elements of the bill is that undocumented people present in the U.S. since before 2011 would be allowed up to 10 years of work authorization. This would be a positive step forward, but still falls short of offering them a full pathway to citizenship which is what many were looking for. The bill would obviously still have to pass the Senate.
The provisions approved thus far also offer a parole waiver to allow people to stay in the country for five years with the option to extend for another five years thereafter. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) about 6.5 million people would stand to benefit from the measure directly. According to that analysis, about 3 million of those people would become eligible to use the parole status to get legal permanent residency, the first step toward citizenship. The bill also includes visa recapture, preventing the loss of some 222,000 unused family-based visas and 157,000 employment-based visas that otherwise expired at the end of last fiscal year. This will help retain immigration pathways for those abroad who often wait years to immigrate to the U.S.