Q: I am a foreign national residing in the United States. I overstayed a visitor’s visa eight years ago. I have two kids, both were born here. Do I qualify for any type of immigration relief based on President Obama’s speech last week?

A: On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced that he will require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation. Individuals living in the United States may apply for deferred action and employment authorization if:

• As of November 20, 2014, you are the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident

• Have continuously resided in the United States from January 1, 2010 to present

• Were physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014, and will be physically present in the United States at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action from USCIS

• Have no lawful status in the United States as of November 20, 2014

• Are not an enforcement priority. Enforcement priorities include but are not limited to national security and public safety threats. Check back here for updates as to the degrees of enforcement priorities that USCIS plans to implement.

Q: I think I am eligible! How do I apply?

A: USCIS is not accepting requests or applications at this time. The agency anticipates this new form of relief to go into effect approximately 180 days following the President’s November 20, 2014 announcement.

Q: How long will I be granted deferred action and employment authorization?

A: If you are granted relief through this program, you will receive deferred action relief and employment authorization for three years.

Q: If I believe that I am eligible for deferred action through this program, what can I do right now in order to prepare for applying when the policy is officially announced?

A: While USCIS is not accepting requests or applications at this time, you can begin collecting documents to establish your identity, relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and your presence in the United States from January 1, 2010 to present.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is dedicated in its advocacy and community involvement efforts towards achieving effective comprehensive immigration policy reform. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

Q: What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?

Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Individuals who meet the DACA requirements and who receive deferred action will not be placed into removal proceedings or removed from the United States for a specific period of time unless the deferral is terminated by the Department of Homeland Security.

Q: How do I know if I am eligible for DACA?

In a speech on November 20, 2014, President Obama announced his intent to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program through Executive Action. Under President Obama’s proposed change, individuals who have already been granted DACA remain eligible for renewal. Additionally, individuals may now request DACA if:

- You came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday, the upper age restriction is no longer in place
Continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010, up to the present time, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007;

- Physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014 and at the time of making the request for DACA
Have no lawful status on November 20, 2014;

- Currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a GED certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran;

- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Q: I think I am eligible, how do I apply?

USCIS is not accepting requests or applications at this time. The agency anticipates the expansion of DACA to go into effect approximately 90 days following the President’s November 20, 2014 announcement. Go to the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) page on USCIS’ website for instructions which will be updated over the next several months.

Q: How long will I be granted DACA?

If you are granted DACA, you will receive deferred action relief and employment authorization for three years.

Q: If I believe that I am eligible for DACA, what can I do right now in order to prepare for applying when the policy is officially announced?

While USCIS is not accepting requests or applications at this time, you can begin collecting documents to establish your identity and your presence in the United States from January 1, 2010 to present.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is dedicated in its advocacy and community involvement efforts towards achieving effective comprehensive immigration policy reform. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

Last night, President Obama addressed the nation on his plans for modernizing the employment-based immigration system through executive action. We have gathered the following information which is applicable to employment-based applicants:

1. Will H-4 visa holders be allowed to work?

Yes for some, but not right now. USCIS has been directed to publish the final rule implementing the availability of Employment Authorization for H-4 visa holders. Since this rule was already proposed several months ago, the effective date should be relatively soon. The I-765 form will need to be updated to create a new category for H-4 dependents. Guidance will need to be published by USCIS to confirm exactly who is eligible for the EAD and what documents must be submitted. We are estimating that this may become available within the next 2 months. Based on the proposed rule, spouses of H-1B holders beyond the six year limit or with approved I-140s should be eligible.

2. Will priority dates become current?

Possibly, but not right away. USCIS and Department of State have been directed to improve coordination to better ensure that all authorized immigrant visas (green cards) are issued each year. This may refer to the potential recapturing of green cards that went unused over the last 20 years. Estimates are that over 200,000 green cards could be made available, which would be enough to clear all employment-based I-485s that are currently pending with USCIS. This would then allow priority dates to be advanced significantly. In addition, USICS is to consider other policy changes, such as the counting of derivative family members towards the numerical limits for immigrant visas. If family members are no longer counted, priority dates will likely become current.

3. Can I file my I-485 now since my I-140 is approved?

Not right now, but soon. USCIS is to “carefully consider other regulatory or policy changes” for beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions. This likely refers to the possibility that those with approved I-140s may be able to file the I-485 Adjustment of Status now, even if the priority date is not current. While the I-485 cannot be approved without a current priority date, this step will provide 2 specific benefits: 1. The ability to obtain an EAD and no longer rely on the underlying nonimmigrant visa; and 2. The ability to change jobs under AC-21. Because this may require changes in regulations, it could take two months for these changes to be implemented.

USCIS and other agencies are directed to implement these initiatives as soon as possible. Some may be done over the next few months, while others are expected to take longer. USCIS will need to produce detailed explanations, instructions, regulations, and forms. Importantly, note that USCIS is NOT accepting applications for any of these initiatives at this time. The initiatives do not include any deadlines at this time

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is dedicated in its advocacy and community involvement efforts towards achieving effective comprehensive immigration policy reform. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.