Last week, USCIS issued a notice detailing the next steps of the Executive Actions on Immigration. USCIS is responsible for implementing these initiatives as soon as possible. Some initiatives will be implemented over the next several months and some will take longer. Over the coming months, USCIS will produce detailed explanations, instructions, and forms as necessary. Below we will outline some basic information on each initiative:
1. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program
• Who is eligible? Individuals with no lawful immigration status who are seeking initial or renewal DACA.
• What will the initiative do? Extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from two years, and allows you to be considered for DACA if you entered the U.S. before the age of 16, have lived in the U.S. continuously since at least Jan. 1, 2010 (versus the prior requirement of June 15, 2007), are of any age (removes the requirement to have been born prior to June 15, 1981), and meet all other DACA guidelines.
• When can I begin to make a request? Feb. 18, 2015.
2. Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) Program
• Who is eligible? An undocumented individual living in the U.S. who is the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and who meets the guidelines listed below.
• What will the initiative do? Allows parents to request deferred action and employment authorization if they have lived in the U.S. continuously since Jan. 1, 2010, had (prior to Nov. 20, 2014) a son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and are not an enforcement priority for removal from the United States. USCIS will consider each request for DAPA on a case-by-case basis.
• When can I begin to make a request? Mid-to-late May 2015.
3. Provisional Waivers of Unlawful Presence
• Who is eligible? Undocumented individuals who have resided unlawfully in the U.S. for at least 180 days and who are the sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, or the spouse and sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents.
• What will the initiative do? Expands the provisional waiver program announced in 2013 by allowing the spouses, sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and the sons and daughters of U.S. citizens to get a waiver if a visa is available. There may be instances when the qualifying relative is not the petitioner. Also clarifies the meaning of the “extreme hardship” standard that must be met to obtain a waiver.
• When can I begin to make a request? Upon issuance of new guidelines and regulations.
4. Modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs to grow our economy and create jobs
• Who is eligible? U.S. businesses, foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers.
• What will the initiative do?
— Work with the Department of State to develop a method to allocate immigrant visas to ensure that all immigrant visas authorized by Congress are issued to eligible individuals when there is sufficient demand for such visas;
— Work with the Department of State to modify the Visa Bulletin system to more simply and reliably make determinations for visa availability;
— Provide clarity on adjustment portability to remove unnecessary restrictions on natural career progression and general job mobility to provide relief to workers facing lengthy adjustment delays;
— Clarify the standard by which a national interest waiver may be granted to foreign investors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises to benefit the U.S. economy;
— Authorize parole, on a case-by-case basis, to eligible inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises who may not yet qualify for a national interest waiver, but who have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing or otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting-edge research;
— Finalize a rule to provide work authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders who are on the path to lawful permanent resident status;
— Work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to develop regulations for notice and comment to expand and extend the use of optional practical training (OPT) for foreign students, consistent with existing law; and
— Provide clear, consolidated guidance on the meaning of “specialized knowledge” to bring greater clarity and integrity to the L-1B program, improve consistency in adjudications and enhance companies’ confidence in the program.
• When can I begin to make a request? Upon issuance of necessary guidance and regulations.
5. Promote the naturalization process
• Who is eligible? Lawful permanent residents eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
• What will the initiative do? Promote citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents, allow naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee, and assess potential for partial fee waivers in the next biennial fee study.
• When can I begin to make a request? During 2015.
While USCIS is not accepting requests or applications at this time, if you believe you may be eligible for any of the initiatives listed above you can prepare by gathering documents that establish factors such as identity, relationship to U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and continuous residence in the U.S. over the last five years or more. It is also recommended that those interested subscribe to the USCIS email and newsletter updates. Updates will also be posted to the USCIS Facebook and Twitter accounts.
For professional assistance regarding your immigration needs, please contact Berardi Immigration Law today to schedule a consultation.