Contributed by Amber Blasingame, Associate Attorney, Colorado Springs
President Obama’s announcement brings much needed relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. However, President’s executive action on immigration will not be a panacea for all undocumented immigrants and will only extend temporary relief until and if Congress passes a more permanent solution. The executive action also calls to develop and improve current legal immigration processes for employment based status and naturalization.
The President’s actions have been calculated to reach the widest population possible within his executive authority. The order will extend benefits to various categories of undocumented immigrants, but not status or a path to citizenship. The order will include the following relief and expansion of existing benefits: (1) Deferred Action for Parental Accountability to parents of United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who have been present since January 1, 2010; (2) An extension of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to applicants regardless of age who arrived before January 1, 2010; and (3) Extending provisional waivers to immediate relatives of lawful permanent residents and children of United States citizens. In the interest of economic growth and job creation, US Citizenship and Immigration Services will work with the Department of State to “modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant programs” including the employment based immigrant visa preference category system, adjustment portability, national interest waivers to foreign inventors, researchers, and entrepreneurs, expanding optional practical training, offering employment authorization to H-4 dependents of H-1B temporary workers, and clarifying guidance on defining the L-1B “specialized knowledge” nonimmigrant status.
Only those applicants who “meet strict requirements” will benefit. As usual, all applicants will be subject to criminal and national security background checks and must not be considered a “priority” for removal purposes, i.e., no substantial criminal record or immigration violations and not a threat to public safety or national security. Each case will be reviewed carefully, and any evidence of fraud, misrepresentation, or failure to disclose a material fact will subject applications to criminal prosecution and possibly removal proceedings. Applicants will be eligible for employment authorization and required to pay taxes as well as applicable government filing fees for processing.
Applications will not be accepted until early 2015. The agencies involved in the process will need time to implement the President’s call to action including creation of necessary forms, determination of fees, and reallocation of resources to accept and process millions of applications. Potential applicants may begin collecting documentation to show presence for at least the last 5 years and should consult with an immigration attorney concerning eligibility and risks.
While the executive order brings relief to millions, the action does not extend to recently arrived immigrants. For example, it does not extend benefits to the influx of immigrants from Central America in the past six months. The President’s action will finance additional resources to Customs and Border Patrol to increase security at the borders and deterrence of illegal immigration.
For many immigrants, this is the chance that they have been waiting for. Eligible immigrants should be careful in seeking assistance with their application process. Many people who are not licensed or authorized to practice immigration law will take advantage of applicants desperate for relief and security from deportation. Applicants must make sure that they have a qualified expert evaluating their case and file any application correctly.
Call us at 303-297-9171 to make an appointment with one of our experienced immigration attorneys to discuss how the President’s executive action might change your immigration status.
We will also be providing a free information session to explain the details of the program. If you are interested in attending the information session, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the invitation list.
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