President Obama’s long awaited immigration order has finally arrived. On November 20, 2014, the President announced his plan to shield up to 5 million people living in the United States without status through an executive action. Although the reliefs provided in the plan do not go into effect until next year, those who believe they might qualify should start to prepare by gathering evidence to prove their eligibility.
The President’s plan call for those without legal status to “come out of the shadows” and live in the United States without the fear of deportation. It features three methods by which immigrants may find relief.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
The Deferred Action program was originally implemented in 2012. It allowed immigrants brought to the US as children an opportunity to stay and obtain a work permit as long as they met certain qualifications. The president’s new order extends the deferred action period for employment authorization to three years, it also extend DACA to many individuals who were previously ineligible due to the strict age and residency requirement.
You may be eligible for DACA if:
1. You were born prior to June 15, 1981;
2. You entered the United States prior to reaching the age of 16;
3. You have been residing in the United States since January 1, 2010;
4. You were present in the United States on June 15, 2012.
Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA)
DAPA will provide temporary protection from deportation as well as work authorization to many adults who have been living in the United States without status. This is a new program that for the first time, opens a pathway for protected status to many immigrants who were previously ineligible any relief. This program will likely impact the most people. However, to be eligible for DAPA, you must meet the following criteria:
1. You must be the parent of a U.S. citizen child or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014.
2. You must have continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010. This means you must have only left the country for brief periods. Extended periods of absence may make you ineligible.
3. You must not have been convicted of any serious criminal offense and or not be categorized as alien listed in the November 20, 2014 memo regarding the Apprehension and Detention and Detention of Undocumented Immigrants.
Expansion of Provisional Waivers of Unlawful Presence
In addition to DACA and DAPA, the President’s order will extend the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver to GREEN CARD Holders. This means that spouses, sons, and daughters of those who only have their green card and have yet to naturalize will be eligible to apply for the I-601A waiver. Presently, only spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens are eligible for the waiver. Those with a green card are not allowed to apply. This new change will make it possible for many people who are either U.S. citizens or green card holders with an undocumented immediate family member to confer legal status to such family members. This program is available immediately.
What Executive Action Does NOT Do
The president’s order will make a difference in the lives of many undocumented immigrants. However, it is important to be clear that it does not solve this country’s immigration problems, and it also has many limitations that only a law passed by Congress can address.
The executive order DOES NOT:
1. Make you eligible for citizenship
2. Make you a legal permanent resident
3. Mean that you will not be deported. This executive action means that you are no longer a priority, and you will not be targeted.
4. Make you eligible for federal benefits such as insurance, educational loans, or food stamps.
5. Automatically make you eligible for in-state tuition benefits. This is determined by the laws of your state.
Although these orders have yet to be implemented, it is wise for those who believe they may qualify to contact an immigration attorney immediately to determine their eligibility and gather the necessary documents that will be needed to prove their eligibility. Given the number of applications the government expects to receive once these programs are in effect, there will certainly be a delay in the processing of these applications. Therefore, it is wise to be among first in line.
If you believe you might benefit from any of these programs, please contact our office immediately for a case evaluation. Office is located in Boston Massachusetts. However, we provide nationwide assistance to those in need of immigration services regardless of their state of residence.