On November 20th, President Obama announced a plan for the Immigration Accountability Executive Action 2014, which is also known as the "Immigration Accountability Executive Action". In addition to the announcement, there were eighteen (18) documents released by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that elaborated on the President's Plan. Many facets of the President's Plan may be of great assistance to members in many immigrant communities in the U.S.
The President announced the creation of a new program called "Deferred Action for Parental Accountability" (DAPA). This program will permit Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (as of November 20th, 2014) to be eligible to apply for "deferred action" (avoiding removal) if they have been present in the U.S. since January 1st, 2010 and if they have five (5) years of "continuous presence".
DAPA will be available as follows ... An applicant must have been present in the U.S. on November 20th, 2014, at the time of making the request for deferred action. Applicants may not have lawful status on November 20th, 2014. Applicants will be subject to background checks and must not be in an enforcement priority category. The White House mentioned a back taxes requirement, but no mention was about this in any of the issued documents. DAPA will be granted for a period of three years. The fees will be $465. Applications will be accepted within 180 days after November 20th, 2014.
In addition, another extension of deferred action was announced. It is the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. The age limit for DACA has been removed and the date of residence has been moved-up to 2010. It is anticipated that this will allow 300,000 additional persons to apply for deferred action. Like DAPA, DACA work permits will be granted for three (3) years.
Another way that members of many immigrant communities will benefit from the President's Plan concerns changes to Provisional Waivers. USCIS will issue new regulations and policies regarding I-601A waivers. In January 2013, DHS published a regulation allowing some people to file I-601A waivers of the three and ten year overstay/unlawful status bars before leaving the U.S. and potentially facing the bar.
The current rule only applies to spouses and children of U.S. citizens. The rule will now be extended to cover all statutorily eligible classes of relatives for whom an immigrant visas are immediately available (including spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and the adult children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents). However, USCIS is advising that these changes will not take effect until new guidelines and regulations are issued. USCIS has not yet provided a timeline.
Another way that President Obama's announcement will benefit many immigrant communities will be a liberalization of the use of the National Interest Waiver (NIW) category for the Green Card. The President stated that the NIW was "underutilized" and ordered USCIS to clarify the standard by which a national interest waiver can be granted. The change is primarily targeted at making it easier for businesspeople and entrepreneurs to qualify.
Additionally, "parole-in-place" is being expanded for certain entrepreneurs. USCIS will grant parole status, on a case-by-case basis, to inventors, researchers, and founders of start-up enterprises who may not yet qualify for a national interest waiver but who have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing or otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting-edge research.
In addition to the foregoing, the President requested the USCIS to issue clarification of the definition of "specialized knowledge" for the L-1B intracompany transfer nonimmigrant visa petitions. Presently, the definition is too subjective and difficult to understand. Additionally, there are proposed changes to the way that visas are counted which may work to eliminate some significant backlogs (retrogression). Also, there is a proposal to accelerate the time when an employee may be "portable" under AC-21.
The Administrative Relief that has been proposed by the President is long overdue. However, what appears clearly to be the cases is that the President continues to be open to receiving a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill from Congress that he can sign and make it a part of the U.S. Immigration Law.