HOUSTON IMMIGRATION
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August 25

Obama’s Accountability Administrative Actions on Immigration

Back in November, the President issued his executive action to address the immigration system. Prior to it being held up in courts, it would have impacted border security, prioritizing deportation where appropriate and improving the system for high skill workers, students and similar individuals.

Unlike the Presidents executive action, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) still remains intact. Similarly, there are other executive actions that continue to progress forward.

Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal

In January 2015, new enforcement priorities have been implemented that prioritize deportation of immigrants who pose threats to our national security, public safety, and border security. Guidance has been given to judges to use their discretion regarding these new priorities.

New Priority Enforcement Program for Convicted Criminals

Replacing the Secure Communities program, the new Priority Enforcement Program with the goal to removable immigrants convicted of criminal offenses with the support of local law enforcement.

Ice Restructuring

Due to the strong and growing focus on convicted felons and threats to national security, personnel challenges have risen for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (REO). Career paths and promotion potential have been increased and implemented for the end of 2015.  In addition, funding for pay reform for 2016 has been requested in order to address compensation and retention.

Lawful Permanent Residency for Spouses

For some high-skilled non-immigrants spouses, there is a path to request work authorization. In February of 2015, eligibility for work authorization for some H-4 spouses of H-1B workers was published by USCIS. This directly addresses attracting high-skilled non-domestic workers by lowering the burdens, both personal and money related during this transition.

Multi-National Companies Transferring Skilled Employees

In March 2015, USCIS announced a policy memorandum on efficient and clear L-1B intracompany transers visas for specialized workers. A final memorandum will go into effect August 2015 based on initial feedback.

Support for Victim Workers of Crimes and Human Trafficking

Department of Labor (DOL) has taken strides to increase support victims of criminal activity and human trafficking if the victims cooperate with legal investigations and prosecution.

Strengthening Immigrant Worker Protections

A 6 month action plan has been developed to improve worker protections for immigrants. This plan will have the goal of ensuring workers who cooperate with labor and employment enforcement to cooperate without fear of retaliation. This will also ensure parties to not abuse labor or immigration laws that violate worker protections and immigration enforcement.

Reduce Family Separation

For those waiting to obtain LPR status, USCIS drafted a regulation to increase options for family members of citizen thus reducing the amount of time that families are separated. The I-601A provisional waiver is available now for relatives of U.S. citizens. They can their visa interviews abroad if eligible, and some inadmissibility bars will not apply. USCIS will take feedback on regulation for 2 months. A final rule is expected in Spring 2016.

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