The President's Executive Actions Announced Last Night

immigration_v3_120012Last night, President Obama outlined several actions that he is directing USCIS and other agencies to implement as soon as possible.  While his deferring deportation of those in the US illegally was the “centerpiece” of this action, it was not the only action he took.  Several other actions he took should be of great importance to many of our clients.  Specifically:

  1.  He directed USCIS to implement the rule change allowing H-4’s to get work authorization in limited situations.
  2.  He directed USCIS to expand the length of time for OPT and STEM OPT extensions

  3.  He will implement a new regulation to give relief to those caught in the employment visa backlogs – allowing them to file the I-485 application based upon their approved employment based I-140 prior to having an immigrant visa available (the exact details of this have not been released).

  4.  He will have USCIS expand the definition of “same or similar” in the context of switching employers under AC21

  5.  He will update and modernize PERM regulations so that applications are not denied based upon harmless error, or for inconsistencies that do not affect the overall integrity of the process

  6.  Ensure that Customs and Border Protection is forced to honor Advance Parole documents issued by USCIS so that if you are granted such a document, CBP will not be able to stop you from entering (unless something occurs in the interim to render you inadmissible).

  7.  He directed USCIS and DOS to work together to modernize the Immigrant Visa system to try an utilize all available visas every year.  He also directed them to explore certain issues including exempting dependents from being counted towards the Visa caps.

The above are just some of the highlights.  The one sticking factor in all of the reforms is that it will require USCIS, DOL and other agencies to develop and issue regulations, something that USCIS, at least,  is notoriously slow at doing.  Some of these reforms should be implemented fairly quickly (for example USCIS has stated that the H-4 work authorization regulations should be implements by December/January), some may not be implemented for months.  As parts of the plan are implemented, we will certainly update people with the specifics of each of those parts.  Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about the possible ramifications of the above changes to your immigration processes.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

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