A Summary of President Obama’s Immigration Executive Action

At 8PM on November 20th, President Obama summarized the key points of his executive action related to immigration.   He did not provide extensive detail during his speech and it is expected that that detail will be revealed over the next few months.  The announcement covered three key areas:

  1. Increasing border security,
  2. Making it easier and faster for highly skilled immigrants to stay in the country, and
  3.  Taking steps to deal with a portion of the undocumented immigrants.

President Obama provided few details on the first two points and for point one really just summed up that it would  be harder for individuals to enter the country illegally.  Presumably this means that more resources will be spent protecting the U.S. borders.

The majority of the speech dealt with the third point.  President Obama stressed that most individuals who enter this country are not looking for a free ride and want to be contributing members of society. He also stressed the difficulties some families face when their loved ones are deported.  Finally, he commented on how Congress has had ample time to pass immigration reform but has failed to do this.  As a result, he described broad ideas that cover two main points.  First, the government will focus limited government resources on deporting criminals or people who pose a threat to national security. Second, the government will provide some 5,000,000 people the chance to stop deportation and get work authorization.

The President’s plan is that those who meet the following criteria would not be deported and could get work authorization.  In order to qualify, the undocumented individual must:

  1. have been living in the U.S. for more than 5 years & currently be in the U.S.
  2.  have children who are U.S. citizens or have children that green cards
  3.  register with the government through an immigration process
  4. Go through a criminal and backround check, and
  5. pay taxes

In addition, the Executive Order will expand the current deferred action to those individuals who came to the U.S. before age 16 regardless of the current age of the applicant.

The President made it clear that no recent entrants would qualify and this relief would not apply to new entrants.   More details related to the President’s plan will come out over the next few weeks and we will cover any developments.

For more practical or legal advice contact Scott Legal, P.C.. We offer services in a number of business areas including, Immigration, New Business set up, Contract review and development and entrepreneurial support. Call 212-223-2964212-223-2964 or email iscott@legalservicesincorporated.com for a consultation.

Ian E. Scott is a Harvard Law School Graduate, lawyer and author of Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing Your First Job.  Mr. Scott worked as a corporate litigator in the law firm Cleary Gottlieb and currently runs his own law firm Scott Legal, P.C. specializing in Immigration Law & New Business set-up. 


  1. Benjamin December 8, 2014 2:21 am

    So how does one apply for this or more specifically how do attorneys apply for the legalization of illegal immigrants under this executive order?

    • IanScott December 8, 2014 2:54 am

      Hello and thank you for contacting us. The regulations will not be finalized for several months so you can check back after the government finalizes the regulations. Kind regards,

  2. AmeriTrust Law Group December 15, 2014 10:12 pm

    Hi Ian, great post. It will be interesting to see how effective the executive action will be in providing clear avenues for undocumented individuals to obtain legal work status. Do you foresee any potential roadblocks?


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