President Obama recently announced that he would take executive action on a number of immigration issues. The President’s actions seek to modernize and reform a number of areas of U.S. immigration law, notably by granting deferred action to a large number of undocumented individuals. For a variety of reasons, including that the regulations which will formalize the President’s actions have not yet been finalized, there is a great deal of confusion about what has been done and what it may mean for undocumented immigrants. Here is what you need to know.
The President took two actions which will benefit numerous undocumented immigrants. First, he expanded the number of people eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or ‘Dreamers.’ President Obama removed the age cap, so that everyone who arrived in the United States before the age of 16, no matter their current age, is eligible for deferred action if they meet all other eligibility criteria. The President also extended the period of deferred action and employment authorization from two to three years, and significantly shortened the time required for continuous residence, moving the date from June 15, 2007, to January 1, 2010.
President Obama’s second major action makes parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents eligible for deferred action and work permits. To be eligible for deferred action under this category a parent must have a child who became a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident before November 20, 2014. Additionally, the parent must have lived continuously in the U.S. since January 1, 2010. Finally, the parent must not be a deportation enforcement priority, meaning that the parent is not considered a national security threat and has not been convicted of certain crimes. If you have any criminal record you should consult an immigration attorney to determine your eligibility.
If you are eligible for a visa but have not pursued one because you could not receive a waiver for unlawful presence, President Obama has also expanded those waivers to include spouses and children of citizens and permanent residents and clarified the ‘extreme hardship’ standard required to receive the waiver.
The President’s executive action benefitting ‘Dreamers’ should be formalized and applications may begin to be accepted around February 20, 2015, and the executive action for parents should be formalized around May 20, 2015, although those dates are subject to change. If you think you might qualify for any of the above-described deferred action on deportation and authorization for employment, contact our office to discuss your potential eligibility. You can call (502) 410-0404 to schedule a consultation.