Here is a list of the top five most important takeaways from President Obama’s immigration plan:
1. You must meet strict requirements to qualify for relief from deportation.
In order to qualify for temporary relief from deportation and obtain a work permit, you will have to pass a criminal background check, pay your taxes, and pay a fee. You must also fall into one of the following categories:
· A parent of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident on the date of the announcement (November 20, 2014) who is not an enforcement priority and has been in the US since January 1, 2010. This will likely become known as the Deferred Action for Parents program (DAP);
· An individual who arrived in the US before turning 16 years old and before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today. This is an expansion of the currently available Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
2. You cannot apply for several months.
It will take several months for the government to create new forms and begin accepting applications for the new benefits, especially for the DAP program. For the DAP program, you can get ready by gathering documents showing you are the parent of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (ex: your child’s birth certificate). For both DAP and DACA, you can start gathering documents to show you have been residing in the United States since before January 1, 2010 (ex: lease agreements, utility bills, paycheck stubs, etc.)
3. Recent border crossers will be a priority for deportation.
You must have been in the US for at least five years to benefit from DAP or DACA. People who recently crossed the border (defined as those who entered the US after January 1, 2014) cannot benefit from DAP or DACA. People entering the US in the future also cannot benefit from DAP or DACA.
4. The I-601A Provisional Waiver program is being expanded.
The I-601A Provisional Waiver program currently allows immigrants who came to the US illegally to apply for a waiver if they have a US citizen spouse or parent. The waiver process is completed in the US, and the immigrant only has to return to his or her home country for a short time, generally less than two weeks.
This program is now being expanded so that immigrants who came to the US illegally can apply for the waiver even if their spouse or parent is only a lawful permanent resident.
5. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will focus deportation on three categories of aliens.
People not falling within these categories will have much less to fear from ICE. The categories ICE will focus on are:
· Suspected terrorists, convicted felons (including aggravated felonies), convicted gang members, and persons apprehended on the border;
· Persons convicted of serious or multiple misdemeanors and very recent border crossers (those who entered after January 1, 2014); and
· Those who, after January 1, 2014, failed to leave under a deportation order or returned after deportation.