On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced significant changes and fixes to our broken immigration system. These administrative and regulatory actions implement new enforcement measures, provide immediate relief to certain individuals, and push us closer to modernizing our current immigration system.

IMMIGRATION RELIEF FOR SELECT UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

Effective immediately, the following two groups of undocumented immigrants will be eligible for work authorization and deferred action to avoid removal from the U.S:

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Eligible Applicants with No Age Limit - Individuals must have entered the United States before the age of 16 and meet all the other criteria required under DACA. Prior to this announcement, DACA was limited to those under age 31 as of June 15, 2012. The date of entry requirement for DACA will also be adjusted from June 15, 2007, to January 1, 2010. DACA renewal and employment authorization will now be issued in three-year increments instead of two-year increments. USCIS will begin accepting applications under the new criteria no later than 90 days from November 20, 2014.
  • Deferred Action for Parents (DAP) - Under this new program, certain parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who entered the U.S. on or before January 1, 2010, will be eligible to apply for deferred action status and avoid removal. While USCIS will have 180 days from November 20, 2014, before it is required to start accepting applications, individuals who believe they may qualify can start preparing by collecting proof of the following: documentation to establish identity; parental relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; and continuous residence in the United States for the past five years. Eligible individuals should fully understand the requirements and potential consequences of applying, since USCIS can use information provided through the application process for enforcement actions.

ADMINISTRATIVE AND REGULATORY ACTIONS TO STREAMLINE AND MODERNIZE THE IMMIGRATION SYSTEM FOR FOREIGN NATIONAL WORKERS AND U.S. EMPLOYERS

The president also provided an overview of future administrative and regulatory actions which will impact immigrants seeking family and employment immigration benefits as well as employers sponsoring foreign national workers. At this time, there are no specific details regarding these actions, which will address the following:

  • Providing portable work authorization for highly-skilled workers and their spouses awaiting lawful permanent status;
  • Enhancing immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs;
  • Strengthening and extending on-the-job training for STEM graduates from U.S. universities;
  • Improving the immigration process for foreign workers and their employers, including through PERM labor certifications and intra-company transfer visas (L-1’s);
  • Reducing family separation for those waiting to obtain permanent residence by expanding existing programs to grant provisional waivers for certain violations before departing the United States to attend visa interviews;
  • Offering assurance that CBP will honor advance parole (permission to re-enter) for those with pending permanent residence applications; and
  • Modernizing the current visa system, ensuring the use of available quota numbers while reducing cost and inefficiency.

USCIS has established an Executive Actions on Immigration website which will provide additional information regarding the implementation of the president’s executive actions and updates on regulatory changes at:http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction.