Last night President Obama announced the Immigration Accountability Executive Actions (IAEA), which is a series of wide-ranging changes to immigration policy. Most of the major changes are centered on the undocumented community. However, some changes will impact the business community. At this point, only summary policies have been released by the administration. Over the next few days and weeks, more details will emerge. None of the changes are expected to take effect until after the New Year
MU Law will be holding a client teleconference on Tuesday December 2, 2014 at 2PM ET / 11AM PT for all clients and friends of the firm. If you or anyone in your organization would like to dial-in to the teleconference, please contact Annalisa Smith (Annalisa@muimmigration.com) to register.
Here are the key components of the IAEA, with a focus on the policies that will impact clients and friends of MU Law:
1. Allowing earlier filing of the I-485, Adjustment of Status: Green card applicants will no longer have to wait until their priority date is current in order to file their I-485, Adjustment of Status. This is especially helpful for India and China EB-2 applicants and all EB-3 applicants in the US.
a. By allowing green card applicants to file their I-485, Adjustment of Status much earlier in the green card process than under the current process, applicant’s spouses will be able to obtain work authorization (EAD cards) many years earlier than under the current policy.
b. Once an I-485 is pending for 180 days, applicants are able to leave their green card employer-sponsor provided that they have found a “same or similar” position. The President has also announced that the USCIS will be providing guidance on the definition of “same or similar”. The forthcoming guidance is expected to be more liberal than the current interpretation.
2. H-4 Work Authorization. This long-proposed rule will allow spouses of H-1B workers to obtain work authorization. Earlier this summer, the USCIS floated a proposal that limited the EAD to H-4 spouses whose H-1B workers have been in the green card process for at least one year. A final regulation is expected in December or January.
3. PERM. The Department of Labor is expected to “modernize” the PERM process, including a potential “harmless error” provision.
4. Entrepreneurs. The administration will be “clarifying” rules regarding using the national interest waiver and parole processes for entrepreneurs. It is expected that these rules will be liberalized to encourage investment and entrepreneurs.
5. L-1B Guidance. The L-1B visa system is riddled with inconsistent decision-making. The USCIS will be offering guidance to help on this issue.
6. OPT. Optional Practical Training will be expanded.
7. Deferred Action expansion. This provision is the focus of much of the media attention. Some undocumented and illegal people in the US will be able to gain temporary three year work authorization and no longer be under the threat of deportation/removal.
a. Deferred Action for Parents (DAP): Parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (of any age) who have been continuously present since January 1, 2010, and who pass background checks and pay back taxes; and
b. DACA Expansion: The age cap on DACA will be removed and the date when continuous presence must have started will be changed from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010.