President Obama’s Executive Action – What Does It Mean? A Summary of the Executive Immigration Action

President Obama’s Executive Immigration Action covered three key areas:

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

As expected, the Executive Action has been controversial and a Federal Judge in Texas recently halted the implementation of the Action. The White House is taking steps to challenge the ruling and we should have more clarity of how this plays out over the next few weeks or months. This blog post deals with item 1 “Deferred Action” above.

Taking Steps to Deal With Undocumented Immigrants With Strong Family Ties

It is estimated that almost 12 million people are living in the United States without legal status and most have families and jobs where they are employed under the table. This group is under the constant threat of deportation and millions are parents of U.S. citizen children that were born here. With little action in Congress, the Executive Action seemed like the only hope for this group. To address at least part of the problem, the Executive Action provided relief to certain groups described below.

Relief from Deportation/Removal

The technical term for the relief is “Deferred Action” which means a temporary reprieve from immigration enforcement. This relief was given to two distinct groups and is similar to the Deferred Action that was given to undocumented minors that were studying in the U.S. in the past. The eligible groups are i) parents of U.S. citizen or Green Card Holder children born before November 20, 2014 and ii) an expansion of relief to the “DREAMers” (children brought to the U.S.). While the relief does not apply to all 12 million undocumented people, it is estimated that it will impact over 4 million people.

What Do You Need To Qualify?

1. To qualify for the Deferred Action as a parent, the applicants must meet the following tests:

  • Child must have been born before November 20, 2014
  • Applicant must prove that they entered the U.S. before January 1, 2010 (I-94 and airline ticket if possible)
  • Applicant must demonstrate that they stayed here continuously since they entered the U.S. (you must provide proof that you have lived in the U.S. for 5 years eg. Produce tax returns, leases, bank statements, utility bills or any other proof that they resided in the U.S.)
  • Applicant must demonstrate that they were in the U.S. on November 20th, 2014 and on the date they apply for the relief
  • Provide the government with biometric information (eg. Fingerprints)
  • Pass a government background check

Over 4 million people fall into this category and could be given this relief.

2. To qualify for the Deferred Action as a Childhood Arrival, the applicants must meet the following tests:

  • Applicant must prove that they entered the U.S. before January 1, 2010
  • Applicant must demonstrate that they stayed here continuously since they entered the U.S. (lived here for 5 years)
  • Applicant must demonstrate that they were in the U.S. on November 20th, 2014 and on the date they apply for the relief
  • Applicant must have been under the age of 16 at the time they entered
  • Applicant is no longer required to be under 31 at the time of applying (This is the expansion as previously the applicant had to be under the age of 31 but now there is no age limit)
  • Provide the government with biometric information (eg. Fingerprints)
  • Pass a government background check

This relief will impact over 300,000 people.

What Do You Receive? What Don’t You Receive?

Once approved, the applicant will be given the following:

  • 3 years of work authorization
  • Applicant will not be deported during this period
  • Applicant is NOT given a Green Card
  • Applicant CANNOT reenter the country if they leave (you cannot travel)
  • You are NOT given a guarantee that the program will be extended or that you will not be subject to deportation in the future
  • If you are not considered a high priority deportation candidate, your information is not supposed to be shared with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit.

What if I Apply for Executive Action and the case is denied?

The denial of a case is certainly a risk. One of the key aspects of this action is that the applicant must bring themselves out of the “shadows” and present themselves to the U.S. government. If your case is denied, you could be subject to enforcement action (deportation) and this will likely depend on whether or not you are considered a deportation priority (eg. If you have committed a criminal offense, etc.). Also, there is no guarantee that the program will be renewed and a new president could eliminate the program such that when your status expires it could not be renewed.

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 212-223-2964 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. 

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