The majority Republican House of Representatives has decided not to address issues related to immigration reform this year; undocumented immigrants will have to wait beyond 2013 for amnesty. Since 2014 is an election year, legislative changes that allow the attainment of immigration status of the estimated 12 million immigrants residing in the United States are unlikely to be adopted. Those who do not want to wait for political changes can consider the following options for 2014:

Deferred Action ( DACA ): Applicable to those who were under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012 who have proof of having entered the United States before age 16. Immigrants who do not have a high school diploma can qualify if they enroll in a General Education (GED) program. Immigrants who are 15 years of age, who can prove they have been here since 2007 and hold no significant crime record, can be granted a work permit and temporary immigration status by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that can be renewed every two years.

U-Visas for victims of violent crime: this process protects one of the most vulnerable groups of immigrants—victims of domestic violence, exploited workers, victims of sexual violence, or all victims of violent crimes that have been reported to local authorities. This migratory protection lasts for four years after its issuance. Beneficiaries who have spent three years under this protection can ask for a green card. In addition, spouses and children under 21 can get status from the primary beneficiary.

Forgiveness Process 601A: Spouses and children of U.S. citizens can now apply for forgiveness for having lived in the United States illegally. Since March 2013, the Obama administration simplified the process of permanent residency for undocumented spouses and children of United States citizens. The applicant may apply for this benefit in the United States (instead of returning to a United States consulate in their home country) eliminating the risk of being separated from their families and reducing costs and time of award of the residency process.

Cancellation of Removal: The current system allows certain undocumented immigrants to apply for a legal process called “cancellation of removal.” This
considers the amount of time spent in the United States, the good moral character of the applicant and certain difficulties (exceptional and extremely unusual) of a close family member of the applicant. An immigration judge decides who qualifies for this legal protection.

While 2013 might not be the year of reform, the mobilization of the Latino community continues to obtain solutions to migration. It is likely that the issue will
be debated at the national level in 2014. However, for those who are considering returning home due to lack of political progress in immigration—many United States Laws currently exist that can offer a quick path to residency. Therefore, it is essential to consider the options mentioned above given that individuals who leave the country will probably not be able to return within the next 10 years, and will most likely be unable to benefit from any reform in the future.

Wilson Purves is immigration attorney and legal adviser Consulate of Mexico in San Francisco.