President Obama’s executive actions on immigration have several components to them. A few important points to note about the executive actions are that they have not been enacted yet, will take several months before USCIS will begin taking applications and that they are only temporary measures which could be overturned by a new president in 2017. Below is a summary of some select provisions of the executive actions.
1. Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The current DACA program requires applicants to be under age 31 as of June 15, 2012. The executive actions will remove this age restriction. The current DACA program also requires continuous residence in the United States since June 15, 2007. The executive actions will reduce the timeframe for continuous residence in the United States by approximately two and one half years from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. Finally, the executive actions will increase the eligibility timeframe for DACA and employment authorization from two years to three years. The DACA program has several other requirements. The changes listed above are the most significant updates to the program. The changes should take effect sometime in late February 2015.
2. Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Parent of US citizens and lawful permanent residents will be able to apply for benefits similar to those listed in the DACA program (a promise not to deport those who qualify for the program and employment authorization). To qualify, parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents must have lived continuously in the United States since January 1, 2010; their citizen or permanent resident child must have been born on or before November 20, 2014; and they must not be in the group of people that homeland security categorizes as enforcement priorities. The DAPA program should become effective sometime in May 2015.
3. Modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs. There are a lot of improvements for the employment side of the executive actions. I will blog about some of these improvements more in depth in the coming weeks and months. Some notable improvements include: a) Allowing employees to change employers without having to wait several years for a green card (Indians in the 3rd preference employment category currently wait about eleven years for a green card. Imagine being stuck with the same employer and in the same position for eleven years! That’s what’s happening in the current system); b) Allowing investors, researchers and startup founders to parole into the United States if they meet certain criteria; c) Providing employment authorization for the spouses of H-1B holders. Under the L-1A program spouses of executives and managers are currently allowed to apply for employment authorization in the United States. The extension of this privilege to spouses of H-1B visa holders seems like a logical expansion for spouses. While many of the executive actions for immigration have approximate deadlines for implementation, the employment based changes do not. It is not clear when these changes on the employment side will become effective. We only know that the changes will become effective “Upon issuing necessary guidance and regulation”.
Contact award winning immigration attorney Rahim Dhanani by phone at (404) 593-0434 or via our contact us form.