Irish Network Chicago member Fiona McEntee outlines President Obama’s actions on immigration reform.

Last night, October 20, at 8PM EST, the nation stood by as President Obama announced his long awaited executive action on immigration.

While there have been many articles written about the President’s announcement, we wanted to make sure that each point was clearly explained in detail so that our clients can fully understand the executive action.

The main points of the executive action are as follows:

1. Increased Border Security & Prioritize Deportations

The President confirmed that, despite the hype by the opposition, the border is more secure than ever before and that illegal border crossing is at the lowest level since the 1970′s. The President will continue to focus efforts on ensuring the border is secure.

2. Prioritize Deportations 

The administration will also continue to focus its efforts on the deportation of undocumented criminals/felons from the United States.

Under this revised policy, those who entered illegally prior to January 1, 2014, who never disobeyed a prior order of removal, and were never convicted of a serious offense, will not be priorities for removal.

Thus, even if you may not benefit from the other provisions of the action as will be explained below, you make take some solace in this new policy knowing that you will not be a priority for deportation.

3. Deferred action for parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children.

“Deferred action” is a key term in the President’s announcement and we want to make sure that everyone understands exactly what it means.

Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action (deportation) against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status but it does allow the individual to apply for a work and possibly a travel permit.

Under the new Executive Action, undocumented individuals who meet a certain criteria will be able to come out of the shadows and apply for work authorization.

The individual must:

1. Have been living in the U.S. for more than 5 years & currently be in the U.S.

2. They must have children who, on the date of this announcement, are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders)

3. Not be a removal priorities under the new policy

3. Present no other factors that would make a grant of deferred action inappropriate.

These individuals will be assessed for eligibility for deferred action on a case-by-case basis, and then be permitted to apply for work authorization, provided they pay a fee.  Each individual will undergo a thorough background check of all relevant national security and criminal databases, including DHS and FBI databases. With work-authorization, these individuals will pay taxes and contribute to the economy.
4. Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

DACA will be expanded to include a broader class of children. When it was initially implemented, DACA eligibility was limited to those who were under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012, who entered the U.S. before June 15, 2007, and who were under 16 years old when they entered.

DACA eligibility will now be expanded to cover all undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16, and not just those born after June 15, 1981.  The entry date will also be adjusted from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010.  The relief (including work authorization) will now last for three years rather than two.

5. Reforming Optional Practical Training for Foreign Students and Graduates

Current regulations allow foreign students studying in the States to apply for 12 months of work authorization (OPT) following completion of their schooling. STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graduates are allowed a further 17 months of OPT for a total of 29 months.

The President has directed the USCIS to improve the OPT program and to expand the degree program eligible for OPT and to extend the OPT time period for STEM graduates.

6. Changing procedures for adjustment of status to allow immigrants delayed in the quota backlog to
register their applications and obtain work authorization.

The current employment based immigration system suffers from extremely long waits for green cards. The new policy will amend current regulations and make other administrative changes to provide needed flexibility to workers with approved employment-based green card petitions.

Specifically, the memo states that the USCIS should consider amending its regulations to ensure that approved, long-standing visa petitions remain valid in certain cases where the individual employee seeks to change jobs or employers.

7. Promote Research and Development in the United States

To enhance opportunities for foreign inventors, researchers and start-up founders, the President has directed the USCIS to implement two administrative improvements to the employment-based immigration system:

a. The standard for the “National Interest Waiver” will be clarified. This allows individuals to seek green cards without employer sponsorship if their admission is in the interest of the U.S.

b. The Department of Homeland Security will be able to admit inventors, researchers, and start-up founders, in a “parole” status to allow them to pursue research and development of new ideas in the States rather than abroad.

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) wants the public to know that within the wake of administrative action, “many unscrupulous and unqualified individuals will engage in illegal scams. Such scams could jeopardize the many immigrants who are desperate to qualify for immigration relief. “Notarios” and non-lawyers without accreditation are not qualified to assist with immigration filings. It is illegal for them to engage in the unauthorized practice of law.”

Obviously, there is a lot of digest. The President will immediately begin implementing some new policies through published guidance and begin implementation of other policies through proposed regulatory changes. We, at McEntee Law, will monitor the status of each change and post updates as they become available.

For practical or legal advice, please contact the McEntee Law Group  773-828-9544 or info@mcenteelaw.com. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook for all immigration updates: https://www.facebook.com/McEnteeLawGroup.

Posted on November 21, 2014 in Blog

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