Now that outgoing Republican Senator Jon Kyl doesn't have to rely on votes from the anti-immigrant crowd, he and Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison have introduced a bill that's kind of, sort of, similar to -- but definitely isn't -- the DREAM Act.
Whereas versions of the DREAM Act have provided a way for certain people who were brought to the United States illegally when they were young to become citizens after six years, the ACHIEVE Act allows the same group of immigrants to stay in the country for 10 years before getting the chance to become a permanent resident, and eventually, a citizen.
According to details from Kyl's office, his plan sets up three types of visa levels these immigrants could qualify for, if they meet the requirements:
- W-1 Status: Those with a W-1 nonimmigrant visa would attend school to earn a bachelor's, associate's, vocational/technical, or advanced degree, or serve in the U.S. military. A W-1 visa holder would have 6 years to get a degree or enlist to serve four years in the military.
- W-2 Status: After completing all W-1 education/military service requirements, a recipient can obtain a W-2 visa, which is a four-year nonimmigrant work visa (also allowed, study toward a master's degree or higher).
- W-3 Status: After completing four years of work while holding a W-2 visa, a recipient can then apply for a (permanent) nonimmigrant (no special pathway to citizenship) visa.
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While there's no "special pathway" to citizenship after doing everything correctly for 10 years, those people do have a pathway to citizenship -- to "get in line" for a green card, which would allow them to apply for citizenship.
The criteria for qualifying under this act are slightly different from what's been proposed in recent versions of the DREAM Act, which you can see by clicking here.
In a joint statement from Kyl and Hutchinson, the senators make it very clear that there's "no automatic path to citizenship," and it also "prohibits the awarding of additional federal benefits."