Last night, President Obama made several major announcements regarding proposed changes to immigration law in the U.S.
Probably the most notable (and most discussed) piece of President Obama’s executive action is that he plans to provide relief to various groups of undocumented immigrants. If you missed the speech or simply want more information on what this may mean for you or loved ones, we’ve outlined some of the main points below.
- Those who have been in America for more than five years and who have children who are American citizens or permanent residents will be able to have their deportation delayed as they navigate the immigration system. If these individuals register, pass a criminal background check, and pay their share of taxes, they will be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. Even though they can’t file their application for 6 months, parents who qualify for deferred action through a son or daughter that is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident will be protected. This provides immediate relief for about 4 million people. It should be noted that this measure does not grant them citizenship or the benefits of U.S. citizens.
- New policies will instruct immigration officers to place a greater focus on deporting criminals. Those who post a threat to national security will be first priority, followed by those with at least three misdemeanors, and finally those who were issued a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014.
- Adjustments will be put in place to make it faster and easier for entrepreneurs, graduates, and highly-skilled workers to move to the U.S. The DHS outlined steps to improve the backlog for green cards and visas for high tech workers, but the actual timetable is still unknown. The United States is a popular, attractive location for starting a business or furthering one’s career. Immigrants who want to come to the U.S. to contribute their skills are an asset to the economy.
As you read the headlines today, you’re likely to see a lot of different viewpoints regarding the executive action. As we’ve said many times before, immigration law changes quite frequently and we’re here to stay informed so we can give the best service to our clients. No one can say for certain what these changes will look like when fully detailed, but we’re hoping it brings positive outcomes for the millions of individuals and families who have started a new life in the U.S.