Now that we know who the next President will be, the immigrant community's attention has turned largely to what will happen in President-elect Trump's first 100 days in office. There is a lot of widespread fear and apprehension, and understandably so, but whether one's worst fears will come to materialize has yet to be seen. From what he has already indicated, there are certain segments of the immigrant community that may be in imminent jeopardy. One prominent aspect of President-elect Trump's platform was to repeal or cancel all of President Obama's Executive Actions on immigration. As a result, "Dreamers"--in particular, those who applied for and have deferred action under the "DACA" program-may soon lose their protection and work authorization. Some wonder whether this means that renewals will not be entertained, or worse, that those who already have DACA protection will immediately lose it.
Late last week, USCIS published a final rule incorporating proposed changes from July of last year to the I-601A process. Many of proposed changes are now final and will become effective August 29, 2016. Of the many changes, the most significant are that the class of eligible applicants has been opened up to all individuals who are statutorily eligible for the unlawful presence waiver, not just immediate relatives of US Citizens. This means that immigrants in other preference based categories-family and employment-may now potentially apply for the I601A. Secondly, up until now, the provisional waiver was limited to immediate relatives who could demonstrate extreme hardship to a US Citizen spouse or parent. Under the new rule, extreme hardship may now be shown to a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse or parent. Another change worth noting is that USCIS will no longer deny I-601A applications based on a "reason to believe" that the applicant may be inadmissible on other grounds, although, of course, it retains the right to deny cases as a matter of discretion. There are also some important technical changes pertaining to individuals with final orders of removal, exclusion, or deportation. How these changes will play out practically remains to be seen once implementation starts. Nevertheless, given the current state of immigration affairs and dwindling hope of immigration reform, these measures may open up alternative avenues of relief to thousands of immigrants currently in limbo due to the unlawful presence bar.
With the Supreme Court deadlocked over United States v. Texas, the lower appeals court ruling upholding an injunction against DAPA and Expanded DACA remains in place. The decision, unfortunately, effectively stymies any progress on immigration for the duration of the Obama administration, leaving millions of undocumented aliens frustrated and disappointed. While the ruling is disheartening, it is important to place it within its proper context. Especially for those affected by it, it is important to understand what the decision means and does not mean.
It may have escaped public notice, but the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State have begun implementing significant changes to the Visa Waiver Program ("VWP"). Pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, travelers who fall under the following criteria will no longer be eligible to travel or be admitted to the US under the Visa Waiver Program:
Despite the Donald Trump rhetoric and shrill Republican backlash against President Obama's Executive Action on immigration, results from numerous polls conducted over the past few years continue to reveal public support for immigration. If anything, this should encourage the undocumented population not to abandon hopes of immigration reform. Here's a few statistics that are worth noting:
In February of 2015, USCIS announced that it would finally be implementing a rule that extends employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses. The expansion of work permission is part of President Obama's 2014 Executive Action on Immigration. While the expanded DACA and DAPA programs are currently on hold pending appeal of a Texas Court decision, this regulation is scheduled to go into effect May 26, 2015 and there has been no vocal opposition that should prompt any affected parties to worry that it will somehow be halted. There are a couple of salient points to be aware of, however:
President Obama's Executive Action on Immigration was announced on November 20, 2014. Since then, there are still a number of unanswered questions about the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, or "DAPA." We talked about some of those questions here. However, besides unanswered questions, there are also misunderstandings about what the Executive Action does and does not provide. Today, I want to discuss the top five misconceptions that people we talk to have about DAPA.
Under President Obama's new Deferred Action for Parents, also known as DAP or DAPA, eligible applicants will be able to apply for Deferred Action and three-year work permits. One of the most frequently asked questions is what sort of documentation is needed to qualify? At this point, unfortunately, further guidance has yet to be issued. Once the forms are issued, the instructions should clarify what is acceptable evidence. However, it is still extremely important to begin planning and assembling documents. Deferred action under DAPA is the same type of deferred action extended to DACA recipients so the documents required for DACA are a good guide as to what will probably be expected for DAPA applicants. Items that you might want to consider gathering together include but should not be limited to the following. This should not be relied upon as legal advice. This is merely general information based upon what USCIS has requested of applicants for deferred action under DACA. Once the instructions and guidelines come out, of course, it will be clear what is necessary.
President's 2014 Executive Action has understandably generated a lot of excitement as well as controversy. We have even heard it referred to as "Obamesty." However, make no mistake about it: what President Obama announced is far from amnesty. Amnesty is essentially an official governmental pardon. In the immigration context, we often think of what President Reagan did for millions of illegal immigrants in 1986. To be more precise, though, President Reagan signed into law The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which was actually a bill passed by Congress that legalized illegal immigrants who entered the country before January 1, 1982 and who satisfied other eligibility grounds, such as security checks and a minimum level of English.