President Obama's Executive Action Announcement - 11/20/2014

As you likely know, this evening President Obama announced his plan for Executive Action for immigration reform. President Obama actually gave very little detail in his address this evening; it is expected that he will outline the plan in more detail tomorrow afternoon in Las Vegas. However, the White House has released preliminary information about the planned changes, in addition to the information the President gave us this evening.

The Highlights of the Plan

The changes most relevant to our client base include the following:

Timing of Filing for Adjustment of Status

At this time we do not have specific details about this provision, but the idea is that those foreign nationals with approved I-140 petitions who are waiting for the priority date to become current could "obtain the benefits of a pending adjustment." This change will be made via regulation.

Business Immigration Changes

It is expected that several changes in the employment-based realm will be announced, including:

- Additional options for investors

- National interest waivers for entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, and founders.

- Clarification on several terms that have long caused confusion (and even litigation) including the term "same or similar" for AC-21 purposes and L-1B guidance

- Final regulations allowing for EADs for certain H-4 sposues

- Extended OPT for STEM graduates

- "Modernization" to the PERM labor certification process (doing away with Sunday newspaper ads, anyone?) possibly including a harmless error provision

Visa Modernization (Visa Bulletin Changes)

It's expected that there will be a Presidential Memorandum directing the immigration-related agencies to consider ways to "modernize" certain aspects of the current immigration framework. This could include considering whether spouses and children should be counted against the immigrant visa quota (if they were not counted, this would make many more "green cards" available sooner). They may also consider whether previously unused visas could be recpatured.

Deferred Action for Approximately 4.4 Million

There will be two new Deferred Action programs:

Deferred Action for Parents (DAP): Parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders who have been continuously present in the U.S. since January 1, 2010, and who pass background checks and pay back taxes. This program is expected to begin in 180 days.

DACA Expansion: The current age cap on DACA will be removed, instead of having to have been in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, you only must have been present since January 1, 2010. Both of these initiatives will provide deferred action for three years. This should begin in 90 days.

Other Changes

The changes also include a new ICE memo outlining the priorities for enforcement (deportation), emphasizing prosecutorial discretion; expansion of the I-601A waivers for spouses and children of U.S. permanent residents (instead of just U.S. citizens); replacing the Secure Communities initiative with a new program called the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP); and expanded Parole-in-Place.

When Will The Changes Take Place?

The expected timelines for Deferred Action are listed above. At this time, there are no precise timelines for the employment-based changes. Stay tuned for more details as they are available!

My Case Is Already in Process. Will This Affect My Case or Status?

As you can see above, there are multiple changes in the pipeline. At this time, it is not expected that these changes will negatively affect any of our clients' filings. If there are changes that would benefit you, we are of course happy to assist as soon as the framework is in place to do so.

Please note that the information outlined above is based on the information currently available, which is of course subject to change going forward. We will post more information as it is available.

Do you need assistance with a family-based or employment-based immigration filing, based on the recent Executive Action announcement or based on existing processes? Contact our office to find out how we can help you streamline the process and achieve your personal and professional goals! 804-396-3412 or We look forward to hearing from you!