Sunday, November 23, 2014
MCG CLIENT ALERT: PRESIDENT OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ACTIONS ON IMMIGRATION
On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced a series of sweeping executive actions on immigration that could enable nearly five (5) million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to obtain temporary work authorization. Other initiatives relative to the executive actions include increased border security, incentives to encourage permanent residents to become U.S. citizens and enhancements to better enable U.S. businesses to hire and retain highly skilled foreign-born workers. Although the president’s executive actions will not be implemented until February 2015, the Obama administration is expected to provide detailed guidance and issue new regulations within the upcoming months. Highlights of the president’s executive actions include:
- Expanding the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to individuals who came to the U.S. before turning sixteen (16) years old and have been present in the U.S. since January 1, 2010. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is expected to begin receiving applications from eligible individuals on or around February 18, 2015.
- Allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been in the U.S. since January 1, 2010, to request deferred removal action and employment authorization for three (3) years, provided they pass a background check and pay taxes. USCIS is expected to begin receiving applications from eligible individuals on or around May 18, 2015.
- Providing portable work authorization for highly skilled foreign-born workers awaiting lawful permanent resident status and their spouses. New regulations will allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily than under the current regulations. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is also expected to finalize rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved lawful permanent resident application.
- Strengthening and extending the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for students and interns. New regulations are expected to expand the degree programs eligible for OPT and extend the time period and use of OPT for foreign students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at U.S. universities.
- Enhancing options for foreign entrepreneurs by providing opportunities for foreign inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises that will create jobs in the U.S. through research and development.
- Streamlining the process for foreign workers and their employers by issuing clear guidance on the temporary L-1 visa program. As such, DHS will issue a policy memorandum to clarify the meaning of “specialized knowledge.”
- Modernizing the employment-based immigration system to reduce long waits for immigrant visas.
We welcome your questions about these executive actions or any other aspect of immigration law. For more information, please contact Stephen Davis, Joey Chbeir or Reilly Ward.
More information on Maynard’s Immigration Practice Group »