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President Obama Announces Plan for Executive Action on Immigration

November 21, 2014
Immigration Advisory

Yesterday evening, President Obama announced his administration's plans to utilize executive action to reform the current immigration system. The announced plan includes the following employment-based immigration changes:

  • Modernize the employment-based immigrant visa (green card) system to prevent unissued visas despite high demand.
  • Extend the optional practical training (OPT) time period for foreign students with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees working at E-Verify employers and expand the eligible fields of study.   
  • Temporary parole status and permanent residence through the national interest waiver program for qualifying foreign investors, researchers and founders of starts-ups.
  • Clear and consolidated guidance for the L-1B program (intra-company transfer for specialized knowledge employees) to improve consistency in adjudications. 
  • Clarify job changes permitted during the permanent residence process including allowing promotions to remove unnecessary restrictions to natural career progression. 
  • Provide work authorization to certain spouses of H-1B visas holders who have begun the permanent residence process. 
  • Modernize the labor certification recruitment and application process.

The plan also includes temporary deferred action and work authorization for three years for parents of US citizens or permanent residents who have been in the country since January 1, 2010 and removes the upper age restriction and extends the deferred action and employment authorization period from two to three years for children who came to the US before turning 16 and have been present in the US since January 1, 2010. Both deferred action plans only offer temporary relief from deportation and work authorization and do not provide any type of path to permanent residence or citizenship. The plans also do not provide any type of safe-harbor for employers currently employing employees eligible for deferred action. Accordingly, employers should continue to comply with work authorization requirements and refer any employees who request assistance with deferred action to outside resources. 

The executive actions on immigration are expected to be implemented through policy memorandums and regulations in the coming months. We will continue to provide updates and opportunities as they become available.  

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