The classifications for resident aliens are myriad, but if the Senate passes the immigration law it's currently considering, a new class will arise: the "conditional nonimmigrant."
Under the DREAM Act, which would allow illegal immigrants who came here as children or teenagers to eventually gain legal status, the new category exists for those who have applied but haven't yet reached the end--the young illegal immigrants stuck between legality and illegality as they try to become "legal permanent residents" and obtain green cards.
Applicants will have five years to complete the DREAM Act requirements--two years of college or military service in good standing--and then will have to apply for another five-year extension, before being able to apply for legal permanent residency.
So, for 10 years, they will live in the U.S. legally as "conditional nonimmigrants," which is something like having a green card and something like having a temporary work visa.
"Conditional nonimmigrants," under this new bill, would all be young: Illegal immigrants will have one year from their high school graduation date to apply. When the bill goes into effect, immigrants who've already graduated (say, five years ago) will have one year from when Obama signs the bill. No one over 30 would be able to apply, so, if the Senate approves it and Obama signs it in January, a host of 30-year-old, undocumented high school graduates could apply in 2011.