Understanding the Immigration Reform

As many of you know, last week President Obama announced his executive decision on immigration, which aimed to “fix the broken system”.  Let us take a closer look at what implementation of such reform may involve.

First, who will be affected by the President’s executive action?

  • U.S. businesses, foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers;

According to the new immigration initiative, the process of employment-based immigration will be simplified for both, the applicants and petitioners. The USCIS will remove restrictions that affect individual’s job mobility and adjustment portability. In addition, the standards of eligibility for foreign investors, founders or start-up enterprises, and researchers will be clarified and defined in detail. Those individuals may be entitled to an expanded national interest waiver, which we will discuss in subsequent article.

  • H-1B Visa Holders and their spouses;

In regards to H-1B Visa holders, their spouses, who hold H-4 statuses, will be officially authorized to work in the United States under condition that their H-1B spouses commenced the process of Adjustment to the LPR.

  • Foreign Students that seek employment in the United States

The program of Optional Practical training (OPT) will be extended and expanded. However, the USCIS will work closely with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to monitor and regulate OPT program.

  • Individuals with “specialized knowledge” who seek employment in the United States;

The USCIS will provide a clear definition on the meaning of “specialized knowledge” and clarify the requirements for obtaining L-1B visa.  In addition, a comprehensive guide for adjudication of the L-1B visas will be issued.

  • Current DACA recipients seeking renewal and new applicants, including individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, who meet all other DACA guidelines.

The DACA program is extended to include the individuals who were born prior to June 15, 1981 and were continuously present in the USA since January 1, 2010. Moreover, the DACA recipients will be issued employment authorization effective for three years.

  • An undocumented individual living in the United States who, on the date of the announcement, is the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and who meets the guidelines listed below.

The Deferred Action program shall protect the parents of the US citizens and lawful permanent residents if they have continuous presence in the USA since January 1, 2010 and, their US citizen/ Lawful permanent resident children were born on or before November 20, 2014.

  • Undocumented individuals who have resided unlawfully in the United States for at least 180 days and who are:
    1. The sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and
    2. The spouse and sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents.

Those individuals may qualify for a provisional waiver program if the standard of “extreme hardship” is met. Moreover, the standard of extreme hardship is furthermore defined.

  • Lawful permanent residents eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship;

Lastly, the lawful permanent residents may use credit cards to pay the application fee for naturalization. Furthermore, the basis for fee waiver eligibility is expanded.

As we can see from the list above the Executive decision affects vast majority of immigrants from DACA applicants to the foreign investors, who would like to set up their business in the United States.