Executive Action — DAPA, DACA and Immigration Reform

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced sweeping changes to our Nation’s immigration system. Specifically, the President has elected to utilize his executive powers in order to reform the immigration system to the extent that he is able. While none of the changes will occur immediately, the President’s actions will provide the opportunity for approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants to obtain work authorization. The plan also provides for important changes to several aspects of the legal immigration system. Notably, the President has explained that USCIS will begin accepting the applications at some point in 2015 and that the benefits will not be available until April, 2015. The plan significantly expands the opportunities for undocumented immigrants who arrived as children through the DACA program while initiating a plan to assist undocumented immigrants with chilren who are green card holders or U.S. Citizens (DACA). The following is an outline of some of the major changes addressed by the President for undocumented immigrants:

(1) Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – DACA

The President has eliminated the prior age cap for DACA beneficiaries. Previously, you had to be under 31 years of age to apply for deferred action through this program. However, that requirement is now removed. Additionally, the date of arrival has been moved to January 1, 2010 from June 15, 2007. Accordingly, provided you have been physically present in the US since January 1, 2010 and were under the age of 16 when you entered you are eligible to apply work work authorization (no valid for 3 years) provided you do not have a significant criminal history.

(2) Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents – DAPA

Undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders will be able to obtain work authorization through the President’s plan. The DHS memorandum issued immediately after the President’s speech confirms that provided you have resided in the United States since January 1, 2010, have a U.S. citizen or LPR child and have no significant criminal history you are eligible to apply for work authorization.

(3) Expansion of I-601A Provisional Waiver

The President’s actions will expand the waiver to apply to spouses and children of LPRs in addition to spouses and children of U.S. citizens. Additionally, the President has asked USCIS to clarify the definition of the “extreme hardship” requirement presumably in order to allow for a more streamlined determination of whether this standard may be met by the immigrant.

Benefits of the Executive Order:

  • The beneficiaries of “deferred action ” are eligible to obtain:
  • Protection from deportation.
  • Work Authorization.
  • Driver’s licenses in states that allow it.
  • Permission to travel abroad under certain conditions ( with prior permission from USCIS)

Limitations of the Executive Order:

  • The legal status is only temporary and must be renewed according to the provisions of the law.
  • No permanent residence and no pathway to citizenship.
  • Does not extend benefits to the families of beneficiaries.
  • No access to any public assistance program or federal aid.

WHEN CAN I FILE?

Please note that USCIS is not yet accepting new applications and has not yet announced a date when filing will begin (though the White House has indicated a time frame of approximately three months). However, you can begin the process of obtaining the required documentation and preparing your case. It is imperative that you submit the strongest possible application in order to give you the best opportunity to obtain approval. For more a free live consultation you can also contact one of our Orlando DACA and DAPA immigration attorneys at (407) 478-1111.