New federal rules, expected to be made public on Monday, will propose that undocumented immigrants who are immediate relatives of citizens could stay in the United States while applying for permanent residency. The Obama administration said late Friday that the move could affect as many as 1 million of an estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.
Currently, undocumented immigrants must leave the country to apply for a legal visa, often leading to extended isolation from their families. The new proposal would allow an individual to remain the country as they applied for legal status. Once approved, applicants would be required to leave the U.S. briefly - approximately one week - to return to their native country and pick up their visa. The White House hopes to have the new procedures in place by the end of the year.
Last December, the U.S. Senate killed Obama's proposed Dream Act, a law that would have created a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who are enrolled in the military or U.S. colleges.