President Obama's speech last night on what is being called "Immigration Accountability Executive Action" (IAEA) primarily described the relief offered to parents of children who are US citizens pr permanent residents (green card holders), and mentioned a change in the focus of the enforcement arm (Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). However, there are far more details on the US Immigration Service website and in the White House Fact Sheet on the subject.
The blog post will cover the proposed changes that affect employment-based applicants and their employers, and prospective citizens. On Monday, I will cover the changes affecting undocumented immigrants and enforcement. Full details of the changes are not yet published, so I can only provide a summary for now.
Changes affecting non-immigrants.
1. Spouses of H-1B workers will get work authorization if the H-1B worker has "an approved LPR application" (this phrase is not defined yet).
2. Investors and entrepreneurs will be encouraged to immigrate by
4. Expand the period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) available to F-1 students in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, including requiring stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges and universities following graduation.
Changes to the permanent residence process.
1 The government is expected to change the way that Adjustment of Status applications are filed, to allow for employees to change jobs more easily, even if their priority date is not current.
2. Improve the ability of people who have filed for permanent residence to travel outside the US while the application is pending.
The government will promote the naturalization process through increased public awareness campaigns in the 10 states where 75% of permanent resident live. Payment of fees will be made easier by
As the USCIS website notes:
Important notice: These initiatives have not yet been implemented, and USCIS is not accepting any requests or applications at this time. Beware of anyone who offers to help you submit an application or a request for any of these actions before they are available. You could become a victim of an immigration scam.
Over the coming months, USCIS will produce detailed explanations, instructions, regulations and forms regarding the changes. Check back here (or subscribe to the feed) for frequent updates as new information emerges.
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.