What Is Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) Status?

Immigration protestors

Under the comprehensive immigration reform legislation passed by the U.S. Senate in June 2013, Registered Provisional Immigrant status would allow immigrants living in the country illegally to remain here without fear of deportation or removal.

Immigrants who are in deportation or removal proceedings and are eligible to receive RPI must be given the opportunity to get it, according to the Senate’s bill.

Unauthorized immigrants could apply and receive the RPI status for a six-year period under the proposal, and then have the option to renew it for an additional six years.

RPI status would put unauthorized immigrants on the path to green card status and permanent residency, and ultimately U.S. citizenship after 13 years.

It’s important to remember, however, that the Senate’s bill is not law but proposed legislation that must also be passed by the U.S. House and then signed by the president. Yet, many lawmakers in both bodies and in both parties believe that some form of RPI status will be included in any final comprehensive immigration reform plan that becomes law.

Also, the RPI status is likely to be linked to border security triggers, provisions in the legislation that require the government to meet certain thresholds to thwart illegal immigration before the path to citizenship can open for the country’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants. RPI won’t take effect until border security is tightened.

Here are the eligibility requirements, provisions, and benefits for RPI status in the Senate’s legislation:

  • The immigrant must have resided in the United States before Dec. 31, 2011, and maintained a continuous presence here.
  • Applicants must pay a $500 penalty fee (except for DREAM Act eligible students, those unauthorized immigrants who were childhood arrivals), as well as paying assessed taxes.
  • Applicants must not have been convicted of an aggravated felony, a felony or three more misdemeanors. Applicants also must not have been convicted of serious offenses under foreign laws.
  • Other violations could also exclude an applicant from receiving RPI: unlawfully voting, or if the government considers the applicant to be inadmissible for criminal, national security, public health or morality reasons.
  • Immigrants with RPI status can work for any employer, travel anywhere within the United States, or leave the United States and re-enter legally.
  • Persons who are living outside the United States who were previously here before Dec. 31, 2011, and were deported for non-criminal reasons can apply to re-enter the United States in RPI status if they are the spouse, of or parent of a child who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; or are ​a childhood arrival who is eligible for the DREAM Act.
  • The application period will run for one year with the possibility of extension by the government for another year.
  • People with removal orders will be permitted to apply as will aliens currently in removal proceedings.
  • The RPI status will last for a six-year term and is renewable if the immigrant does not commit any acts that would be considered deportable. Another $500 penalty fee is applicable at renewal.
  • A person who has been granted RPI status is not eligible for any federal means-tested public benefit (as such term is defined in section 403 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1613)).
  • A noncitizen granted registered provisional immigrant status shall be considered lawfully present in the United States for all purposes.