Ice Miller can help innovators overcome critical challenges to grow successful agribusinesses. Learn more about the unique business and legal challenges facing food and agricultural innovators and how to protect and grow that innovation in our 2015 Agribusiness Guide. An excerpt follows:  

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced executive action on immigration largely covering the controversial area of illegal immigration which could provide substantial relief to the overburdened and unworkable H-2A and H-2B visa programs for agricultural and other seasonal labor. Relief for the estimated five million undocumented immigrants was expected but the President’s actions also include a surprising number of policy improvements to employment-sponsored immigration. With the exception of the deferred action programs discussed below, however, most of these changes come without a specific timeline for implementation. It remains to be seen whether the President’s actions will withstand legal scrutiny but regardless, the concepts below are worth consideration.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an expansion of a program introduced in 2012 granting temporary relief from deportation through the use of prosecutorial discretion and employment permission to individuals who were brought to the US as children.

Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) is a new program that provides deferred action and employment permission for three years to parents of US citizens or permanent residents (green card holders) who have been present in the US since January 1, 2010, as of the date of the President’s announcement (November 20th), and at the time of the DAPA request. Similar to DACA, the parental program is only available to those not currently in lawful status and who have not been convicted of certain crimes. The President’s executive action also calls for improvements to the provisional waiver process whereby relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents can establish their deportation would result in extreme hardship to their relative(s).

Other business immigration changes include:

  • providing work permission for H-4 spouses of highly skilled H-1B workers
  • bringing greater consistency in adjudication of petitions for L-1B specialized knowledge workers
  • modernizing the employment-based green card system by tracking unused immigrant visa numbers
  • streamlining the labor certification process
  • increasing worker portability for those with pending green card applications
  • reforming and extending period of OPT available to foreign students to counteract H-1B quota limitations and permit foreign entrepreneurs sufficient time to work in self-employed capacity
  • promoting research and development in the U.S. through expansion of the underutilized “national interest waiver” path to green card and the granting of temporary parole to certain qualifying foreign entrepreneurs, researchers and inventors.