Sunday, November 23, 2014

Obama's Immigration Reform: Deferred Action and the Dream Act

What exactly do the new immigration policies announced by President Obama do? Several things, each of which is summarized below:

Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) The new policy announced by President Obama allows parents of either U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents who have lived here since January 1, 2010 and have children born on or before November 20, 2014 to apply for employment authorization.  This policy does not apply to national security or public safety threats.  If you fit in to this category, USCIS should begin accepting applications in May or June 2015.  

"The Dream Act" (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA]) Beginning in February or March 2015, individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, may apply for DACA (removing the upper age restriction) provided they meet all other guidelines. To qualify you must have continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007.  The new policy also extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from the current two years.

High Cost Citizenship Fees  Want to become a U.S. Citizen?  Many green card holders are eligible for citizenship but cannot afford the fees.  The new policy makes this easier in that people will be able to pay their naturalization fees by credit card and UCSIS will look into a potential partial fee waivers.  The idea behind this is that it will promote the naturalization process (and probably also to help the Department of Homeland Security pay for the new fee structure the policy hopes to implement for ICE enforcement officers).

Provisional Waivers  The policy also expands the provisional waiver program announced in 2013 by allowing the spouses, sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents and sons and daughters of U.S. citizens to get a waiver if a visa is available. There may be instances when the qualifying relative is not the petitioner.

Immigrant Visas for U.S. businesses, foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers  UCSIS is ordered to finalize a rule to provide work authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders who are on the path to lawful permanent resident status; work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop regulations for notice and comment to expand and extend the use of optional practical training (OPT) for foreign students, consistent with existing law; provide clear, consolidated guidance on the meaning of “specialized knowledge” to bring greater clarity and integrity to the L-1B program, improve consistency in adjudications, and enhance companies’ confidence in the program.

If any of these apply to you, an experienced immigration attorney can help you through the process.  Call Hadley Law, PLC at 757-498-1800 to set up an appointment to discuss your case.  USCIS reviews applications on a case-by-case basis.  Make sure your's is reviewed in the light most favorable to you!