President Obama's Executive Action on Immigration
On November 20, 2014, President Obama publicly proclaimed his Executive Action on immigration. The Executive Order is a series of initiatives to reform our system as well as provide relief to non-criminal undocumented aliens present in the US. The three most prominent aspects of the Executive Action are the following:
Expansion of DACA Program
The current program deferred action program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or "DACA") available to individuals who entered the country before the age of 16 and who have graduated with a high school degree will be expanded to include more people. Effective February 2015, USCIS will begin accepting applications under new criteria, which 1) eliminates the age cap and 2) changes the continuous residence requirement from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. This is now currently on hold pending the Supreme Court's ruling.
Creation of DAPA Program
The Executive Action provides deferred action to parents of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. This new program is called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability or "DAPA." Individuals who can demonstrate that they have been continuously present in the US since January 1, 2010 and who can prove that they are parents of a US Citizen or Green Card Holder will be eligible to apply for official protection from deportation. Applications will be granted on a case-by-case basis. If approved, the individual will be receive a three-year grant of deferred action and be authorized to work.
Expansion of Provisional Waiver Program
The current provisional waiver program, instituted in 2013, allows immediate relatives of US Citizens to apply for a provisional waiver on Form I-601A. The provisional waiver allows the individual to apply for a waiver of the unlawful presence bar while here in the United States. If the waiver is approved, an interview is scheduled abroad without the applicant having to file a waiver from outside the US, uncertain whether it will be approved or not. Under President Obama's Executive Action, the program will be opened up to 1) spouses and sons and daughters of Lawful Permanent Residents and 2) sons and daughters of US Citizens.
In addition to these three initiatives, the Executive Order calls for the implementation of changes in the visa system, the end of Secure Communities, and incentives to promote naturalization.
On June 23, The Supreme Court of the United States announced that due to a 4-4 deadlock in United States v. Texas, the lower appeals court decision is affirmed. As a result, the DAPA and Expanded DACA programs effectively remain on hold.