Washington: The White House is circulating a draft immigration plan that would allow some 11 million illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents in the US within a span of just eight years, a media report said on Sunday.
According to the draft being circulated among various government agencies, visa applicants would need to pass a criminal background check, file biometric information and pay fees, media reported.
The plan would also allocate additional funds for border security and require business owners to check the immigration status of any new hires within four years. The estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, could also apply for a "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa, the report said.
Once approved, they would be allowed to reside in the United States legally, work, and leave the country for short visits without losing their status.
A new 'fraud-proof' identification card would prove their legal residence in the country. And, within eight years of this the immigrants could apply for a green card to obtain legal permanent residence if they learn English and "the history and government of the United States." They would also have to pay back taxes, the report said.
With green card in hand, the immigrants would then be on a path to apply for US citizenship.
News of this new legislation comes when members in both chambers of Congress are drafting their own version of a new immigration bill, it said.
A bipartisan group has been negotiating an immigration proposal for years. Last month, four Republican senators joined with four Democratic senators to announce their agreement on the general outlines of an immigration plan.
The new bill mirrors many provisions of the failed bipartisan 2007 bill that was spearheaded by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, and Senator and 2008 Presidential Candidate John McCain, and then-president George W. Bush.
In his first term, Obama often deferred to Congress on drafting and advancing major legislation, including the Affordable Care Act.
Two weeks ago in Las Vegas, while outlining his immigration plans, Obama made clear that he would not wait too long for Congress to get moving.
"If Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away," he said.
Obama and top Republicans are now in agreement that political and demographic trends have shifted, making reform politically expedient and offering the best chance for serious reform in a generation.
But differences remain, particularly in the contentious issue of how to accommodate the millions who entered the country without permission, or who came in legally but overstayed their visas.