After months of anticipation- and following years of hope for Comprehensive Immigration Reform- President Obama today finally announced an outline of his “Immigration Accountability Executive Actions”.
With just basic details released so far, we still do not know exactly who will qualify for the new program, but should generally be able to help-
1. Parents of US citizens or lawful permanent residents as of November 20, 2014, who are not enforcement priorities and have been in the US since January 1, 2010 OR
2. Individuals who arrived in the US before turning 16 years old and before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today.
Applicants will also need to pay their taxes, and pass national security background checks.
Additionally, the “provisional waiver” program which allowed the undocumented spouses of United States citizens to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility before leaving the U.S., will be expanded to the parents and spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents.
Because of the lengthy visa availability wait times, the family members of lawful permanent residents may not be able to actually file for waivers until after Obama leaves office. This would create a serious potential risk. On the other hand, the increased likelihood of being able to proceed under the provisional waiver program is a reason why the family members of lawful permanent residents may want to begin the visa petition process right away.
There are a few more key cautions, as well.
First, and most importantly, it is not yet possible to apply for benefits. The government will need to generate new forms, filing procedures, and other key aspects of the application process. Therefore, do not pay anyone claiming th can file your application right now.
One exception is that people in removal proceedings with an upcoming hearing, should consider requesting a delay or administrative closure of those proceedings if they appear to qualify for the new program. This, however, should be discussed in detail with an immigration attorney, as it may actually be a better idea to go ahead with the case.
Additionally, as a trade off for the increased benefits, the government has said that it will place increased emphasis on deporting foreign nationals who arrived after January 1, 2014 or how have criminal records. It is our understanding there will be new, more specific, guidance forthcoming on the criminal issues. Nonetheless, foreign nationals facing criminal problems may potentially now be in more danger of deportation than previously.
As discussed above, there is now an incentive for more family members of lawful permanent residents to apply for residency. While this is a possible benefit for those foreign nationals, it could lead to longer wait times for other family-based immigrant visa petitions.
Again, this is just a preliminary assessment based on initial information. Undoubtedly the full impact of this program will hinge on details which should be coming soon. Those potentially helped- or hurt- by the new program should follow the news, this blog, and consult with an experienced immigration attorney before filing anything.
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