The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions announced
last month contained a raft of measures principally aimed towards providing
relief for individuals in the United States who are out of status. The
Executive Action also included some measures that the President felt would
help legal immigrants and students in Science and Technology programs.
The President’s actions created a firestorm of political reaction
– from those who deemed the Presidential Action as unconstitutional
to those who felt that the President had not done enough. In fact 24 Attorneys
General have filed a complaint, in a case which could wind its way to
the Supreme Court and have wide ranging impact on the exercise of Executive
For legal immigrants or those in legal status in the United States the
Presidential Action provided some notable relief in the form of a directive
to the Department of Homeland Security to change current procedures so
that some high-skilled immigrants and their spouses are able to change
jobs; increasing immigration opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs and
creating further opportunities for students in STEM programs in U.S. Colleges.
In the coming months there will be further guidance released by the relevant
government agencies on how the Presidential directives will be implemented.
There will also be further clarity on whether the Presidential Action
will be able to stand the political and judicial scrutiny. It may be noted
that recent Senate Action on the budget precluded a de-funding of government
agencies as a retaliation for the Presidential decision. This may be an
indication that the Presidential Action may be too politically toxic to
The highlights of the Presidential Executive Action are:
Measures for Aliens Without Documentation who have a Legal Permanent Resident
or U.S. Citizen child and expansion of the DREAMer program: The major thrust of the President’s action involved providing relief
for undocumented or illegal aliens residing in the United States for at
least 5 years and who have a U.S. Citizen child or a child with a Legal
Permanent Residence. These immigrants will be provided relief on a case
by case basis. The DREAMer program will also be expanded to allow those
who were under 16 at the time of their entry into the United States and
will have to have been here on or before January 1, 2010.
Portable Work Authorizations for High Skilled Workers Awaiting Permanent
Residence (Green-cards): For those awaiting employment based permanent residence, Employment Authorizations
will be issued that would allow portability. Opportunities for their spouses
to avail themselves of Work Authorizations will also be introduced.
Enhanced Measures and Opportunities for Foreign Entrepreneurs: New measures and options will be introduced for Entrepreneurs who “will
provide a significant public benefit by creating jobs, attracting investment,
and generating revenue in the United States.”
Measures for students in STEM programs in U.S. Universities: Additional administrative measures to be introduced for foreign students
graduating or enrolled in STEM degree studies through the existing Optional
Practical Training (OPT) program.
Relief from Re-Entry Ban for Persons Awaiting Green Cards: Individuals who face a ban on Re-Entry will be “to apply for a
provisional waiver of certain restrictions before they depart the United
States to attend visa interviews at U.S. consulates abroad.”
Our advice to clients impacted by the Presidential Action is to await further
guidance and clarification. The Presidential Action is unprecedented.
However these measures may prove to become extremely difficult for future
administrations and the Congress to roll back.
Please contact USILaw should you have any questions or need clarification.
You can reach us via email at
info@USILaw.com and via telephone at (202) 618 4540.