Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration – What is Next and How do I Prepare?

Since the announcement by President Obama on November 20, 2014 of his Executive Action on Immigration, a few updates are warranted as we head into the holidays and new year with hopeful expectations on how these new initiatives will be rolled out.

First, BEWARE of attorneys or attorney-like individuals who can promise to do something NOW. The Obama Administration through US Department of Homeland Security’USCIS issued an Announcement¬† last updated on December 5, 2014, indicating that the new Deferred Action program for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will become effective on or about February 20, 2015 and the new Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA) will be rolled out on or about May 20, 2015. It also provides a link to get email updates directly from USCIS on these programs and also warns persons of those in your communities who may be interested in scamming you. As USCIS has stated, there are no forms created yet and only USCIS will be announcing when persons are able to file. This is an excellent resource page for ongoing information.

In the meantime, potential applicants are advised by USCIS to get various documents in order to establish:

  • Identity (such as valid passport, birth certificate, matricula consular card)
  • Relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children (birth certificates or adoption paperwork)
  • Continuous residence in the United States over the last five years or more (leases, bills, bank statements, pay records, government records, etc). The USCIS Announcement refers to the definition of “continuous residence” under the Naturalization statute and regulations, which is interesting. That definition states that residence is broken automatically after 1 year of absence and is presumed broken after 6 months unless one can prove otherwise.

For those high-skilled and those who have entrepreneurial goals, there is no specific announcement yet for administrative improvements that can assist in the process of temporary or permanent residence. For instance, work authorization for H-4 workers, will require a regulatory process to be complete. The link for the USCIS announcement above allows you to sign up for announcements regarding specific employment-based updates, which I do recommend.

There is still much unknown, especially with Congress only providing funding to Department of Homeland Security through February 2015 only in the last budget bill. Also there are some potential unanswered questions with how different agencies might impact these programs. For example, a new ICE Enforcement Memo announced November 22, 2014, lists the priority type persons who will be deported and includes those with prior deportations and DUIs.

Before proceeding with Obama Executive Action applications in Denver or Boulder, you can contact attorney Catherine Brown at 303-322-2117 for specific advice on whether you might be eligible and how best to prepare for Deferred Action or other reform that will be upcoming.