Immigration Accountability Executive Action
On November 20th, President Obama confirmed that he will sign an Immigration Accountability Executive Action. His speech was brief, but he highlighted the main points of his Executive Action. The White House has outlined these in a fact sheet and posted it on its website — http://m.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/20/fact-sheet-immigration-accountability-executive-action.
We wanted to highlight a few:
- Creating a mechanism that requires certain undocumented immigrants to pass a background check to make sure that they start paying their fair share in taxes. In order to promote public safety, DHS is establishing a new deferred action program for parents of U.S. Citizens or LPRs who are not enforcement priorities and have been in the country for more than 5 years. Individuals will have the opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for three years at a time if they come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass background checks, pay fees, and show that their child was born before the date of this announcement. By providing individuals with an opportunity to come out of the shadows and work legally, we will also help crack down on companies who hired undocumented workers, which undermines the wages of all workers, and ensure that individuals are playing by the rules and paying their fair share of taxes.
- Expanding DACA to cover additional DREAMers. Under the initial DACA program, young people who had been in the U.S. for at least five years, came as children, and met specific education and public safety criteria were eligible for temporary relief from deportation so long as they were born after 1981 and entered the country before June 15, 2007. DHS is expanding DACA so that individuals who were brought to this country as children can apply if they entered before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today. Going forward, DACA relief will also be granted for three years.
- Providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers awaiting LPR status and their spouses. Under the current system, employees with approved LPR applications often wait many years for their visa to become available. DHS will make regulatory changes to allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily. DHS is finalizing new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved LPR application.
- Enhancing options for foreign entrepreneurs. DHS will expand immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the U.S., to ensue that our system encourages them to grow our economy. The criteria will include income thresholds so that these individuals are not eligible for certain public benefits like welfare or tax credits under the Affordable Care Act.
- Strengthening and extending on-the-job training for STEM graduates of U.S universities. In order to strengthen educational experiences of foreign students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at U.S. universities, DHS will propose changes to expand and extend the use of the existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and require stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges and universities following graduation.
- Streamlining the process for foreign workers and their employers, while protecting American workers. DHS will clarify its guidance on temporary L-1 visas for foreign workers who transfer from a company’s foreign office to its U.S. office. DOL will take regulatory action to modernize the labor market test that is required of employers that sponsor foreign workers for immigrant visas while ensuring that American workers are protected.
It is anticipated that President Obama will sign the Immigration Accountability Executive Action today, November 21, 2014. Thereafter, we will be able to provide further guidance on the impact of the Immigration Accountability Executive Action, the timing of its implementation and the long awaited benefits it will bring to the immigrant community.