On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced his immigration reform plan to provide deportation relief for certain undocumented workers and streamline the immigration process for highly-skilled workers in the US. His executive actions on immigration include the following:
1. Deferred Action for Parents (DAP): Parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents (of any age) who have been in the US continuously since January 1, 2010, pass background checks and pay taxes will be able to apply for deferred action for a three-year period. The projection is that this plan will go into effect in 180 days.
2. Expansion of Dream Act for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): The age cap (currently 16) will be eliminated and the applicant must have been continuously present in the US since January 1, 2010. It will be granted for three years and the projection is that it will take effect in 90 days.
3. Foreign Entrepreneurs: Certain investors will be granted parole (either in the US or to enter the US) for job creation. Also, entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors and founders may apply for national interest waivers to obtain legal permanent residency.
4. Filing of Adjustment of Status Applications and Portability: Individuals with approved I-140 immigrant visa petitions who are unable to file the Form I-485 to adjust status to legal permanent residency because of visa quota backlogs will have their cases advanced so that they can apply to adjust their status and obtain the benefits of it (work authorization, travel permission and status in the US).
5. STEM OPT Extension: F-1 student on optional practical training (OPT) who are STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) graduates will have their OPT extended.
6. I-601A Waivers: The provisional waiver, allowing the prefiling of the waiver in the US before the alien departs the US to consular process abroad, will be expanded to include spouses and children of legal permanent residents. The definition of extreme hardship will be expanded and clarified.
7. H-4 EADs: H-4 spouses of H-1B workers will be provided work authorization, such as L-2 and E-2 spouses of L-1 intracompany transferees and E-2 investors.
8. Clarification on L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visas: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will offer guidance on L-1 intracompany transferee petitions for foreign workers who transfer from a company’s foreign office to its US office.
8. Modernization of PERM: The Department of Labor will modernize the recruitment requirements and labor market test for the PERM labor certification (the first stage of the green card process for most employment-based foreign workers).
Let’s stay tuned for the details of all of these benefits.