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Obama Moves Forward with Sweeping Immigration Reform

By Humera Subhani Email By Humera Subhani
December 2014
Obama Moves Forward with Sweeping Immigration Reform

On November 20, 2014, President Obama unveiled his bold Executive Action for Immigration Reform. This plan will affect millions of illegal and legal immigrants.

For illegal immigrants:
Under the plan, the bulk of the estimated 5 million people who could be protected from deportation would be parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders who have also had continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010. Beginning next spring, they could register with the government, undergo a background check, start paying taxes, and gain protected status for up to three years. This is referred to as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability Program (DAPA). The details will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

**This order does not affect anyone who has entered the country illegally within the last five years.

Another 290,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children would also be newly protected under an expansion of Obama's original Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The administration is eliminating the age cutoff for DACA, which had been open only to people born June 15, 1981 or later, and it is allowing immigrants to apply if they have lived in the U.S. since 2010, not 2007 as before. They will also be extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years.

They will also be expanding the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses and sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and the sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, which broadens the previous provisional waiver regulation.

For legal immigrants:
The ability of individuals with an approved employment-based immigrant petition, who are caught in the quota backlogs, to file for adjustment of status will be advanced to permit them to obtain the benefits of a pending adjustment. This is expected to impact about 410,000 people. This will be done by regulation.

Business immigration changes
A number of business immigration improvements were announced. For example, certain investors will be eligible for parole into the U.S., or for parole-in-place, and national interest waivers will be available for entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, and founders. Also, the term "same or similar" for AC-21 purposes will be clarified, L-1B guidance released, the H-4 EAD (work permits for spouses of H1B visa holders) regulation was finalized, and the length of time permitted on OPT for STEM graduates was expanded. Additionally, the rulemaking process will be undertaken to modernize the PERM labor certification program.

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 recaptured are expected to be included in this effort.



VISA PREFERENCE NUMBERS FOR December 2014

 

FAMILY

India

Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st

22Jun07

22Jun07

2A

22Mar13

22Mar13

2B

22Feb08

22Feb08

3rd

15Dec03

15Dec03

4th

22Feb02

22Feb02

 

 

EMPLOYMENT

India

Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st

Current

Current

2nd

15Feb05

Current

3rd

01Dec03

01Nov12

Other

01Dec03

01Nov12

4th

Current

Current

5th

Current

Current1B

 


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