By: Joseph G. Cella, Esq.

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced to the nation the specifics of his Executive Action concerning our broken immigration system. The following is a brief summary of the changes expected to be implemented by early Spring, 2015:

Expands DACA to include More Young People and Parents of US Citizens (“USCs”)and Lawful Permanent Residents (“LPRs”):

Estimated to benefit up to 4.4 million unlawful aliens within our borders, the most far-reaching provision of President Obama’s executive order will protect parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents from deportation if they can demonstrate that they have been present in the United States since at least January 1, 2010, and pass background and security checks. These individuals will also receive employment authorization in two year increments, which will allow them to receive Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses in all states. 

President Obama’s executive order also expands his prior order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or “DACA”, which previously provided permission to work to individuals who arrived inthe United States before they were 16 years of age, by eliminating the requirement that limited DACA eligibility to only those born after June 15, 1981.

Broadens and Liberalizes Aspect of Business Immigration:

The Obama executive order also directs a number of federal agencies to amend their regulations and application of the law to benefit foreign-born, highly-skilled workers. The order is intended to broaden and lengthen the Optional Practical Training Program or“OPT”, for our foreign-born graduating students; provide more“green card” opportunities for entrepreneurs and those foreign-born individuals who are starting and running new businesses;and provide for greater job freedom (“portability”) for those individuals who are forced to wait years employment-based permanent residence, or “green cards”, as a result of visa backlogs.

On the Enforcement End:

With regard to enforcement and deportation/removal issues, the President’s executive order directs Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to focus its resources and efforts primarily on the apprehension and removal of felons, those convicted of multiple and/or “serious” misdemeanors, and recent arrivals in the United States. In general terms, those individuals with non-criminal records but who are in the United States without authorization will “not be priorities for removal.”

What To Do Now?

Although at this time it appears that the government will begin accepting applications for these programs in the early spring of 2015, it is recommended that those who believe they may qualify contact CELLA & ASSOCIATES, LLC, review the order’s requirements and to start collecting and compiling the necessary proof of presence in the United States as well as any and all criminal dispositions and other relevant records.

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