On November 20, President Obama addressed the nation on the following executive actions he is taking to fix what he called a "broken" immigration system:

  • Shifting resources to the border and prioritizing removal of recent border crossers
  • Streamlining the immigration court process
  • Protecting victims of crime and human trafficking
  • Implementing a Priority Enforcement Program to remove criminals from U.S. prisons, and state and local jails
  • Implementing background checks and tax payment obligations for certain undocumented immigrants
  • Expanding DACA to cover additional DREAMers. Under the initial DACA program, young people who had been in the United States for at least five years, came as children, and met specific education and public safety criteria were eligible for temporary relief from deportation as long as they were born after 1981 and entered the country before June 15, 2007. DHS is expanding DACA so that individuals who were brought to this country as children can apply if they entered before January 1, 2010, regardless of their age today. Going forward, DACA relief will also be granted for three years.
  • Providing portable work authorization for highly-skilled workers awaiting lawful permanent resident (LPR) status and their spouses
  • Enhancing options for foreign entrepreneurs.
  • Strengthening and extending on-the-job training for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics graduates of U.S. universities
  • Streamlining the process for foreign workers and their employers, while protecting American workers. DHS will clarify guidance on temporary L-1 visa workers who transfer from a company’s foreign office to its U.S. office.  DOL will take regulatory action to modernize the labor market test that is required of employers that sponsor foreign workers for various immigrant visas, while ensuring that American workers are protected.
  • Reducing family separation for those waiting to obtain LPR status. To reduce the time families are separated, DHS will expand an existing program that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional waiver for certain violations before departing the United States to attend visa interviews.
  • Ensuring individuals with a pending LPR application or certain temporary status have permission to travel abroad with advance permission (parole).
  • Issuing a Presidential Memorandum on visa modernization and improvement.
  • Creating a White House Task Force on New Americans to ensure qualified immigrants are properly integrated into our society.
  • Promoting citizenship awareness in 10 states that are home to 75 percent of the overall LPR population.
  • Ensuring U.S. Citizens can serve.  To further our military’s needs and support recruitment efforts, DHS will expand an existing policy to provide relief to spouses and children of U.S. citizens seeking to enlist in the military, consistent with a request made by the Department of Defense.

Five things you should know about President Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions:

  1. Immigrants must meet strict requirements to qualify for relief from deportation.
    Eligible immigrants will have the opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation and work authorization if they come forward and pass criminal and national security background checks, pay their taxes, pay a fee, and show that they are:
    • A parent of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents on the date of the
      announcement, are not enforcement priorities and have been in the United States since January 1, 2010, or
    • An individual who arrived in the United States before turning 16-years-old and before January 1, 2010, regardless of their age today

Additionally, the President plans to reduce the time that families are separated while obtaining their green cards. Undocumented immigrants who are immediate relatives (i.e. spouse, underage child, parent) of lawful permanent residents or sons or daughters of U.S. citizens can apply to get a waiver if a visa is available.

  1. Immigrants that meet the requirements would not be able to submit their applications until early 2015. They will need to establish their identity, relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and show that they have continuously lived in the U.S. for five years or more.
  2. Recent border crossers will be a priority for deportation. Qualifying immigrants must have been in the United States for at least five years. The executive actions will not benefit immigrants who have recently crossed the border (after January 1, 2014), who may cross the border in the future, or who help those who cross in the future. Anyone attempting to cross the border illegally today will be caught and sent back.
  3. Misrepresentation, omission, and fraud will subject applicants to criminal prosecution and possible removal from the United States.
  4. Beware of Immigration Scams. Many people offer to assist with immigration services, but not all are authorized to do so.