President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

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In November, 2014, President Barack Obama signed an executive order addressing a wide range of immigration issues. Specifically, the order:

  • Allows parents of American citizens, as well as lawful permanent residents of the United States who have been in the country since the beginning of 2010, to ask for deferred action and employment authorization for three years. Applicants will be required to submit to a background check. Anyone who was considered an enforcement priority for removal before the order was issued will not qualify. Immigration authorities estimate that this provision will affect approximately four million undocumented aliens.
  • Makes more people eligible for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. DACA applies to individuals who came to the United States before the age of 16. Under the executive order, anyone qualifying under DACA may ask to have their work authorization extended from two to three years. Persons born before June 15, 1981, can now qualify for DACA benefits. Applicants must have lived in the United States since January 1, 2010 (the prior requirement was 2007). Officials project that an additional 300,000 people will be eligible for DACA benefits.
  • Expands the use of what are known as “provisional waivers” to allow spouses and adult children of lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens to avoid actions based on allegations of unlawful presence in the United States. Under prior law, only minor children and spouses of U.S. citizens qualified.
  • Makes changes in immigrant and non-immigrant programs designed to bolster the American economy. As part of this effort, USCIS will work with the U.S. State Department to address a number of factors that affect the ability of immigrants to work in the United States.
  • Increases availability of and access to information for lawful permanent residents
  • Allows applicants for naturalization to pay fees with a credit card.

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