On November 20, 2014, President Obama made an important announcement regarding his plans to overhaul the U.S. immigration system through a series of executive actions. Among other things, President Obama’s plan is designed to keep America safer at the border, prioritizing deporting felons, while keeping families together. This long-awaited action will ameliorate some of the damage done by the inaction of Congress in the face of our broken immigration system. Up to five millions of undocumented immigrants can avail themselves of the new programs and protect themselves from deportation. Our attorneys at Panagopoulos Embry are excited to provide guidance to intending immigrants regarding their options under the President’s executive action. Please call us at 619-209-6030 to schedule a free consultation.
1. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
This program removes the upper age restriction by allowing applicants born prior to June 15, 1981, to apply for DACA provided they meet all other guidelines.
It now requires continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007.
Extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from the current two years.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) pledges to start accepting requests for this program approximately around February 18, 2015.
2. Deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents
This program allows undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to request deferred action and employment authorization if they satisfy the following requirements:
- Satisfy continuous residence requirement since January 1, 2010.
- Are the parents of a U.S citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014.
- Are not an enforcement priority for removal from the United States, including national security and public safety threats.
USCIS will start accepting applications for this program approximately around May 19, 2015.
3. Provisional waivers of unlawful presence
Sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and the spouse and sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents who resided unlawfully in the United States for more than 180 days will be allowed to apply for a provisional waiver if a visa is available to them. The provisional unlawful presence waiver process allows undocumented individuals to apply for a waiver in the United States before they depart for their immigrant visa interviews at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
The new regulations will clarify the meaning of the “extreme hardship” standard that must be met to receive the waiver.
USCIS expects that the President’s initiatives will allow at least 4.9 million prospective immigrants to apply for immigration benefits. Even though the initiatives do not contemplate deadlines, the government encourages every person who believes they might be eligible to review each initiative, decide whether or not to apply and start gathering supporting documentation as soon as possible.