President Obama Announces His Plans for Executive Action
November 23, 2014
Last week, President Obama announced his plans for executive action on immigration. The plan includes deportation relief for millions, expands eligibility to other immigration benefits and lays out other economic, enforcement and humanitarian related initiatives. Key components of the plan include:
Deferred Action for Parental Accountability Program (DAPA). Parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children, of any age, who have been in the country since January 1, 2010, pass background checks and pay taxes will be eligible for relief from deportation and employment authorization for three years. To be implemented approximately 180 days following the President’s November 20, 2014 announcement.
Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Allows young adults born prior to June 15, 1981 (removing the age cap) who have been present in the country since January 1, 2010 (rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007), provided they meet the other eligibility requirements, to apply for DACA. Also extends deportation relief from two years to three years. To be implemented approximately 90 days following the President’s November 20, 2014 announcement.
Expansion of Provisional Waivers of Unlawful Presence. Allows spouses and children of lawful permanent residents to apply for provisional waivers of unlawful presence (previously only spouses and children of U.S. citizens could apply). Clarifies what constitutes “extreme hardship” in order to have the waiver granted.
Improvement of the Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Programs. Reducing the backlogs so that beneficiaries of employment- and family-based visas may begin the final step in the “Green Card” application process.
Improvement of Programs for Students and High-Skilled Workers. A number of improvements to the H-1B, L-1B and National Interest Waiver (NIW) benefits such as parole for job-creating entrepreneurs and extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
End of Secure Communities program. Discontinuance of the Secure Communities program and replacement with the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP).
Relief for Military Families. Enable families of individuals trying to enlist in the armed forces to utilize ‘Parole-in-Place’ to become eligible to apply for legal status without departing the country.
While the controversy over the legality of the President’s actions seems to take center stage, it should not eclipse the larger issue: that Congress has not passed meaningful legislation to reform our immigration system despite bipartisan consensus that it needs fixing. The President’s executive actions are only temporary “stop gap” measures announced after months of delay by Congress to address the larger issue of comprehensive immigration reform. Hopefully, rather than further divide Congress, these actions will act as a springboard for more permanent and lasting bills in this area.
In the meantime, it is important to note that USCIS is not accepting applications at this time but will issue more detailed explanations, instructions, regulations and forms in the coming months. Also, be aware that only licensed attorneys can advise you regarding your immigration matters. Be cautious of notarios and unlicensed immigration “specialists” who are not authorized to practice in the area of immigration. If you feel you want to learn more about the President’s executive actions and whether it affects you, please contact the office for a consultation.