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President Barack Obama Announces Immigration Action

On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced the steps he will take to make our nation's immigration system more reasonable, transparent, and fair. Through these executive actions, the President will expand DACA, implement a deferred action program for the parents with U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident children, extend provisional waivers to the children and spouses of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, and streamline the immigration process for high skilled workers.President Obama has expanded DACA by removing the upper age restriction, allowing individuals born before June 15, 1981 to apply. The residency requirement has also changed, DACA applicants must demonstrate they have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010, as opposed to June 15, 2007.

Finally, the deferred action period and work authorization will be extended from two years to three. Applications for the newly expanded DACA program will be available in 90 Days.

Deferred Action for Parents (DAP) will apply to parents of U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident children who have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010. In order to qualify, applicants must pass a criminal background check and pay taxes. If they are eligible, deferred action and work authorization will be granted for 3 years. It is important to note that DAP will not apply to the parents of DACA recipients or long term residents who do not have children.

President Obama has also expanded the I-601A provisional waiver program announced in 2013 to include the spouses and children of legal permanent residents. The children of U.S. citizens may also obtain a waiver if a visa is available. Furthermore, the meaning of the "extreme hardship" standard, required to get a waiver, has been clarified.

Included in the President's executive action is a plan to modernize, improve, and clarify immigrant and non-immigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs. Optional Practical Training (OPT) will be extended for foreign students while spouses of H-1B recipients will be allowed to apply for work permits and high skilled immigrants will have the freedom to change jobs during the green card process.

USCIS will not accept applications until 2015 and will most likely not process them until the spring. However, it is never too early to begin gathering documents and getting ready. Should you have any questions, please call our office at 216-566-9908 or visit our website www.imwong.com to schedule an appointment.

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