A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

President Obama's Executive Immigration Reform Plan - A Bullet Point Summary

Tonight, President Obama announced his executive plan to reform the current U.S. immigration
system.  Below is a summary of the most important points:

  • Deferred Action for Undocumented Parents of U.S. Citizens and Green Card Holders: These parents can stay for three (3) years if they have been in the U.S. since January 1, 2010, pass background checks and pay back taxes.  This rule should take effect in 180 days.
  • Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA):  This action will benefit more undocumented young people who were brought to the U.S. as a child (before the age of 16). The applicant must have been in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 (extended from June 15, 2007).  The present age of the applicant is no longer a criterion for consideration.  All other DACA requirements will remain in effect. These young people will also be allowed to stay and work in the U.S. for three (3) years. This rule will take effect in 90 days.  
  • Expansion of I-601A Provisional Waiver to include spouses and children of LPRs:  People who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. need a waiver before they may apply for permanent residence status.  Provisional waivers allow undocumented individuals to submit their waiver applications in the U.S. before they apply for a visa to return.  Currently only immediate relatives of U.S. citizens may apply for provisional waivers.  Under the new rule, spouses and children of green card holders will also be eligible for provisional waivers.
  • Foreign Workers with Approved I-140 Petitions May File I-485 Adjustment Applications Earlier:  This is very good news for the 410,000 EB applicants who have been waiting for available visa numbers.  They will be allowed to apply for employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel documents with the I-485s.  Exactly how early they may submit their I-485s will be addressed by regulation. 
  • Foreign Entrepreneurs Will Get Parole Status:  Certain foreign investors will be allowed to enter or stay in the U.S. in "parole" status.  
  • Foreign Entrepreneurs, Researchers, Inventors, and Founders Eligible for National Interest Waivers  (NIW):  They will be allowed to bypass the labor certification process and apply for green cards directly. 
  • STEM OPT Will be Expanded:  The length of time for STEM OPT will be extended.  Subsequent non-STEM degrees are also being considered for eligibility. 
  • Optimal Use of Immigrant Visa Numbers:  The President will direct immigration-related agencies to look at modernizing the visa system, in an attempt to achieve optimal use of the numbers of visas.  For examples, whether dependents should be counted towards the visa quota and recapture of unused visa numbers will be considered.  
  • Prioritizing Enforcement Efforts:  The top three priorities will be: (1) Suspected terrorists, convicted felons (including aggravated felonies), convicted gang members, and persons apprehended on the border; (2) Persons convicted of serious or multiple misdemeanors and very recent border crossers (those who entered after January 1, 2014); and (3) Those who, after January 1, 2014, failed to leave under a removal order or returned after removal. 
(Any questions regarding the President's new plan can be sent to info@szetolaw.com.)


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