On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced his long-awaited changes to our broken immigration system. None of the changes will take place immediately, and some hoped-for changes like recapture of lost EB numbers and counting only principals toward the 140,000 EB cap were not included in the new policy.

 

Nevertheless, for 4-5 million persons, most of them undocumented, there is considerable good news.

1. Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) – Parents of young persons granted DACA will not receive any benefits under the President’s new policy. However, certain parents of US citizens and green card holders will be able to apply for relief and work cards under DAPA.

The age of the child is irrelevant. Even if you are 50+ years old and your son/daughter gets a green card through his/her citizen spouse, you may be eligible for DAPA. To qualify, you need to have resided in the US since January 1, 2010 and not be in lawful status on November 20, 2014. The background checks will be similar to those for DACA applicants. You can qualify even if you are under removal proceedings or are subject to a Final Order of Removal. Immigration Policy

The work permit and biometrics fee is currently $465.

The application period will start in the Spring of 2015.

2. Expansion of the DACA Program – The 31-year-old age cap for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be removed. To qualify, you must have been present in the US on January 1, 2010 (rather than on June 15, 2007), and you must have been under the age of 16 when you entered the US. DACA work permits will now be issued for 3 years at a time instead of 2 years. You must be present in the US on November 20, 2014 and not be in lawful status.
The application period will start within 90 days of November 20, 2014.

3. Employment-Based (EB) Benefits – Most of these promised benefits are in the “Coming Attractions” category since they require regulations. We are informed that the long-awaited regulations for work permits for certain H-4 spouses will soon be finalized.

Also, that certain persons with approved EB petitions who are waiting for their priority dates to become current may eventually be permitted to “pre-register” for adjustment of status, which will allow them to obtain EADs and APs, and to change jobs. Regarding OPT, the STEM category will be expanded, and the length of STEM-OPT extensions will grow. Also promised are benefits for foreign-born entrepreneurs.

Again, don’t look for any of these benefits in 2014. Perhaps by the end of 2015.

4. Other Benefits – These include items that have been on many immigrants’ wish lists for years and years:

I-601A Provisional Waivers – Will be expanded to include spouses and children of LPRs;
Parole-in-Place – Will be expanded;
Advance Parole – DHS will apply standards in Matter of Arrabally-Yerrabelly;
Promises, Promises – DHS will clarify legal terms of art, including “extreme hardship”, “specialized knowledge”, and “same or similar”, and everything from the PERM process to Immigration Court proceedings will be improved and modernized.