Advancing the immigration registry date is not a novel concept and is in line with Congressional intent. Registry has been enshrined in law for nearly a century, and Congress has expressly intended registry to be a mechanism for undocumented immigrants to adjust to lawful permanent resident status. Additionally, eligibility requirements for immigration registry are broad, so many people can qualify,6 but relief is discretionary and considered case by case.
Congress has a few options for modernizing the immigration registry process. Congress could advance the cutoff date as it has done before, typically about 10 to 15 years before the date of a bill’s passage (e.g., the 1986 bill established an entry date of January 1, 1972). To avoid having to update the registry date, a more robust immigration system permitting more immigrants to enter the country would be needed.
An additional option is a “rolling” cutoff date that automatically adjusts. The date could advance by one year with each year that passes,7 or could be determined by the individual’s date of entry, so they would be eligible to file a registry application after being present in the U.S. for a set period.8 This approach would be the most flexible, and would reflect Congressional intent to recognize long-standing residence as a positive factor for an individual seeking legal status.