New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Obama Administrative Immigration Reform: Who Can Benefit?

Author: New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

The long waited administrative immigration reform has been announced (please see Obama Immigration Reform). However, there are a lot of rumors as to who can qualify and what the immigration reform actually is…

First of all, the announced administrative action is not an amnesty that will help all undocumented people immigrate in the United States. It is not the law, but is a set of improvements to the existing law that should help some (not all) undocumented persons to get some sort of relief.

The main question is who will be affected by the proposed immigration action? First of all, it is parents of the United States citizens and permanent residents regardless of age. However, what exact relief the “immigration reform” will bring them? For now, it is actually just a work permit after the applicant is granted a deferred action and, in some cases, an easier way to get a waiver of inadmissibility.

As such, we can divide all the undocumented parents of the USC (United States Citizens) and LPR (Lawful Permanent Residents) into two big groups: one, are those whose children are under 21 and will not be able to adjust or get a green card. It means that they will have to use the Deferred Action plan, which will protect them from deportation or removal and will give them a work permit for three years. Also, it might be that like with DACA beneficiaries, the beneficiaries of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents) will be able to travel using an advance parole document.

The second group are those immigrants who have children USC 21 or older, and who can qualify for an immigrant visa, but due to an illegal entry will have to apply for provisional waiver. Here, the administrative reform is supposed to lessen the standards for the waiver, which in turn will make it easier to get the waiver.

Please note that the proposed administrative immigration action cannot and will not automatically waive unlawful presence bar or entry without inspection. It means that there is no law right now that will automatically help those who came to the US illegally to get a green card. It is very important to understand that because already there is incorrect information here and there which mislead people and will result in broken hopes and money loss.

Who will not benefit from the proposed action? Undocumented persons who do not have USC or LPR children. Regardless of number of years, a person who entered legally or illegally and stayed in the US, if he/she does not have a USC or LPR son or daughter, is not covered by the administrative action. Such a person may benefit from other initiatives (possible improvements to the long lines for employment based immigration).

Further, another large group of potential beneficiaries, are childhood arrivals. The administrative action is improving criteria for DACA beneficiaries by eliminating the upper age barrier (DACA was initially could be utilized only by those who were under 31 on the day of its implementation). Now, the person does not have to worry about it, as long as he/she entered the country before the age of 16. Also, the time of continuous presence that will be taken into consideration will be changed from 2007 to 2010.

Those are the two largest groups that will be able to benefit from the administrative action. There are other points of the administrative action, but there are less significant. Those points include improvements to the process of naturalization and parole in place.

Parole in place for members of the military has actually the most significance out of all of the improvements because allows a paroled person to apply for green card or permanent residence status immediately; and if, there are no other grounds to inadmissibility, eliminates the need for a waiver.

09 December 2014
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