- Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration at the Border;
- Deporting Felons, Not Families; and
- Accountability—Criminal Background Checks and Taxes.
As such, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will no longer target innocent, hard-working families. More importantly, President Obama said that he would defer the deportation of the parents of children who are either U.S. citizens or legal residents, and that he would expand protection to “DREAMers,” or children who entered the country illegally without their parents. Those two groups will be allowed to get work authorization after passing a background check (you must not have a criminal record), and paying back taxes and a fee.
New and Improved DACA
Under the Executive Order, the age cap on DACA will be removed and the residence requirement has changed from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. Also, DACA will be granted for a period of three years. This program should be up and running in 90 days.
Protection for Parents
Also under the Executive Order, parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (of any age) may be granted deferral as long as they have been continuously present since January 1, 2010, pass a background check, and pay back taxes. This program should be up and running in 180 days and is also granted for a period of three years.
I-601A Waiver Expansion
Further, under the existing I-601A waiver program, only spouses and minor children of United States citizens are eligible to file for a provisional waiver. But now, spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) may apply for a waiver as well. Please keep in mind that “extreme hardship” must still be proven.
Other Executive Actions
The President’s actions will also streamline immigration to boost our economy and promote naturalization by:
- Providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers awaiting LPR status and their spouses. “Under the current system, employees with approved LPR applications often wait many years for their visas to become available. DHS will make regulatory changes to allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily. DHS is finalizing new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved LPR application.”
- Reducing family separation for those awaiting to obtain LPR status. Due to barriers in our system, U.S. citizens and LPRs are often separated for years from their immediate relatives, while they wait to obtain their LPR status. To reduce the time these individuals are separated, DHS will expand an existing program that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional waiver for certain violations before departing the U.S. to attend visa interviews.
- Ensuring U.S. Citizens Can Serve. Because some branches of the military ban applicants who have undocumented family members, 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.
- Ensuring that individuals with lawful status can travel to their countries of origin. DHS will clarify its guidance to provide greater assurance to individuals with a pending LPR application or certain temporary status permission to travel abroad with advance permission (“parole”).
- Issuing a Presidential Memorandum on visa modernization. There will be a Presidential Memorandum directing the various immigration-related agencies to look at modernizing the visa system, with a view to making optimal use of the numbers of visas available under law. Issues such as whether derivatives should be counted towards the visa quota and whether past unused visa numbers can be recapture are expected to be included in this effort.
Relief May Be Available for You
Although President Obama has taken these much-needed steps, they are temporary, and only Congress can finish the job. By passing a comprehensive, bipartisan bill, Congress can replace these actions and fix the whole system.
If you believe that you are one of the over 4 million undocumented individuals who may be eligible for one of these forms of relief under the new Executive Order, we encourage you to contact our office for a consultation at 973-542-0200. Although it will not take effect until 2015, there are many preparatory steps that we can begin to take in the meantime.
The Law Offices of Cindy Ramjattan-Paul