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Friday, November 21, 2014

President Obama's Immigration Accountability Executive Action: "We were strangers once, too".

By Charles M. Miller, Partner,  Miller Law Offices

On November 20, 2014, President Obama delivered a speech which introduced the Immigration Accountability Executive Action, which will provide wide-reaching relief to millions of undocumented persons.  While the President's address emphasized border enforcement measures and a change of enforcement priorities for the removal of criminal aliens not families, national attention focused on his plan to provide temporary deferred action for the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  The President also removed the age restrictions for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The benefits provisions with the widest effect are summarized below.  

DACA age expansion- The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is expanded to those persons who came to the U.S. before age 16 who have been continuously resident since January 1, 2010.  The period of DACA and work authorization will be extended from two years to three years. It will allow individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, to apply for DACA.  The USCIS estimates that this provision will be implemented approximately 90 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.

Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA)- Parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents born on or before November 20, 2014,  who have continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010,  will be allowed to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years.  The Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program, requires that applicants also pass required background checks. The USCIS estimates that this provision will be implemented approximately 90 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.

Unlawful Presence Provisional Waiver Expansion- The President expanded 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. Currently, only spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens are allowed to apply to obtain provisional waivers prior to a consular immigrant visa appointment.   

The President's order expands the provisional waiver program by allowing the spouses, sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents and sons and daughters of U.S. citizens to apply for and receive a waiver, if a visa is available.

USCIS and other agencies and offices are responsible for implementing these initiatives as soon as possible. Some initiatives will be implemented over the next several months and some will take longer. Over the coming months, USCIS will produce detailed explanations, instructions, regulations and forms as necessary.