April 24, 2013, Louisville, KY- After months of work, the Senate Gang of Eight has introduced  sweeping immigration legislation, which is currently There are a number of changes that will benefits thousands of immigrants who call Kentucky home, but also contained in the bill is legislation that will have a huge impact on families.

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The immigration reform bill is complicated, but the legislation is centered on giving millions of undocumented immigrants the opportunity to become obtain green cards and eventual citizenship through a merit system. It also increases the number of temporary work visas granted each year which can is good news to Kentucky’s horse industry which employs a large number of immigrants.

But one of the cornerstones of legal migration, the family visa, will be impacted if the legislation is passed. As part of a bipartisan compromise, lawmakers have decided to increase the number of temporary work visas by eliminating a family visa category that many immigrants rely on to stay reunited with their families.

The bill eliminates 65,000 family visas that are awarded each year to the siblings and adult children of legal immigrants, who are over the age of 31, the Washington Post reported. The plan would be phased in over a period of 18 months once and if the legislation is enacted.

The AFL-CIO is unhappy with this change, and it will likely spark a debate within Senate Judiciary Committee where hearings about the bill are currently being conducted.

“It’s not a good change in policy. The family has been the anchor, the core of the American immigration system,” said Ana Avendano, AFL-CIO’s director of immigration told the Washington Post. “Siblings are a much a part of my family as my parents are.”

The only pathway to a green card available to siblings of immigrants is the new merit system the Post explained. Under this system immigrants earn points towards a green card based on their work history, education, family relationships and their length of U.S. residency. The point system however will likely favor length of stay, education and employment over sibling relationships.

Immigration reform has met many stumbling blocks in its crafting and in the ensuing debate so it remains to be seen if the bill will actually pass Congress. If it does it will change many long-standing policies while keeping some current immigration laws in place. This will make difficult for some immigrants to understand how they can enter the country legally or which visa/citizenship programs they are eligible for.

Immigration attorneys in Kentucky, including Louisville’s Rusty O’Brien, are closely watching the new legislation so they are prepared to guide their clients through every step in the process whether they are trying to obtain visa, green card or are trying to stop deportation.

If you live in Louisville and need help with any immigration issue, attorney Rusty O’Brien is there to serve your needs. No issues whether you need a deportation defense or want to apply for a family visa is beyond the scope of his experience.

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