Obama Announces Immigration Action

Yesterday, Thursday November 20, 2014, President Obama announced executive actions on immigration policy that has the potential to positively impact up to 5 million immigrants, not to mention their families.  The current executive action will have the following impact: stay deportations of unlawfully present immigrants who are parents of US citizen or legal resident children; remove the age cap for DACA eligible persons; all persons now eligible for deferred action will also be eligible to apply for work permits; and directs immigration officials to focus on criminals or persons posing a threat to the US in their deportation and enforcement efforts.

We, and many law offices, have spent most of the day today fielding questions from anxious and excited clients regarding if and how they fit into this executive action.  Unfortunately, we still have to wait to see who exactly will meet USCIS eligibility requirements, and what the real cost and process will be.  There are several questions still unanswered – how long will the process take, who exactly is eligible, what do we need to show to prove eligibility, what is the cost of the application, will there be fines for unlawful activity, will all criminal acts trigger ineligibility, what exactly is the procedure, and how long will the deferred action last?  We will have to keep an eye on USCIS and Department of Homeland Security updates to see how the details get sorted.

Currently there is still no news on whether persons in H4 status, spouses of H-1B non-immigrant workers, will be allowed to apply for work permits.  Furthermore, parents of DACA children will not currently be eligible to file for deferred action.  Only parents of US citizen or legal resident children will be eligible.

Though we are relieved to see President Obama make this bold step, it is still unclear exactly who and how we will be able to help.