More time for illegal immigrants to get visas recommended
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Immigration and Naturalization Service is recommending that illegal immigrants who missed last month’s deadline to apply for visas get an additional six months to 12 months to do so.
The agency’s acting commissioner, Kevin Rooney, told a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday that the INS believes about 200,000 people who were eligible for the visas did not apply under the law that expired April 30.
Rooney said he favors the extension because his agency was slow to come up with regulations, which slowed the application process.
President Bush last week wrote congressional leaders urging them to give illegal immigrants more time to apply. Bush has not said how much more time he is seeking.
Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., said the INS recommendation bodes well for the possibility of an extension.
”Now you have the president saying it. You have INS saying it. You have Republican members of Congress saying it. It could be good,” he said.
The Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act allowed an estimated 640,000 illegal immigrants to apply for visas without first returning to their home countries and applying from there. That was significant because illegal immigrants found to have violated U.S. immigration laws are barred from re-entering the United States once they leave.
A visa allows an immigrant to stay in the country. Once granted, it reserves a place to later apply for a green card, which means permanent legal residency.
Several bills have been filed to give the immigrants more time.
On the Net:
Immigration and Naturalization Service: http://www.ins.usdoj.gov
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