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Flash Summary of Pres. Obama's Announcement of Executive Actions on Immigration

Flash Summary of Pres. Obama's Announcement of Executive Actions on Immigration

Pres. Obama, with two years left on his presidency, has announced the largest executive immigration relief plan in memory, which could potentially help over 4 million undocumented immigrants remain in the U.S. will Congress continues to struggle over immigration reform.

While many details need to be worked out, below is a summary of Pres. Obama's new immigration relief policy. Details of the official immigration action policy can be found on the DHS website.

What Immigration Benefits Are Provided to Undocumented Immigrants by Pres. Obama's Administrative Relief Announcement?

Pres. Obama's new immigration policy will defer immigration prosecutions deportation for certain parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents and for certain undocumented childhood arrivals. Those who qualify for Deferred Action may also receive employment authorization and a work permit identification card. The new employment authorization period has been extended to three years from two.

How do I qualify for Pres. Obama's Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program?

Under the new policy, undocumented childhood arrivals (i.e. those who arrived prior to turning age 16) even if born prior to June 15, 1981, may qualify under the new expanded DACA rules. Applicants for DACA must have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 10, 2010, rather than June 15, 2007, as under the former DACA policy. The new policy also eliminates the age ceiling.

Other requirements from the former DACA policy remain. Applicants must currently be in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States. Likewise, the Applicant may not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and may not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

How do I qualify for Pres. Obama's New Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents?

Undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents can qualify for Deferred Action and a work permit if they have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2010. The Applicant must be the parent of a child born on or before November 20, 2014. Who qualifies as a "parent" is not yet clear. We are waiting for clarification on whether adoptive parents and step-parents are covered under the definition.

The Applicant may not be an "enforcement priority" for removal from the United States. These Enforcement Priorities are set forth in the November 20, 2014, Policies for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum. Priority 1 are threats to national security, border security, and public safety. These include non-citizens apprehended seeking to illegally enter the U.S., as well as non-citizens convicted of state felony offenses (other than immigration related felonies), and federally defined "aggravated felonies" under 8 USC § 1101(a)(43). Priority 2 are those convicted of three or more misdemeanors, significant misdemeanors, non-citizens in the U.S. who arrived after January 1, 2014, and those who have significantly abused the visa or visa waiver process. Priority 3 are non-citizens present in the U.S. who are under final order of removal (i.e. not on appeal) as of January 1, 2014. Priority 2 and 3 non-citizens under the new administrative policy should be deported from the United States, unless DHS has concluded there are significant factors in favor of permitting the non-citizen to remain in the U.S. under Deferred Action.

When can I apply for Pres. Obama's Expanded Deferred Action Program?

For non-citizens seeking relief under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, DHS has indicated it will begin accepting application around February 20, 2015. In the case of Parental Deferred Action, DHS has indicated it will begin accepting application May 20, 2015.

What's next on immigration reform?

Congressional Republicans have voiced strong opposition to the new Executive Immigration Action plan, and have vowed to block it once they take over the Senate in January 2015. Our Firm will continue to monitor these developments.

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