Obama Immigration Legacy
Author: New York Immigration attorney Alena Shautsova
While everyone is talking about President-elect possible Immigration policy, I would like to recap on what President Obama did. Even though he was not successful on his promise of comprehensive Immigration reform, his administration did promulgate several executive and administrative actions that liberalized Immigration regulations of 1996, and helped thousands to achieve their dream of living in America.
- DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Implemented in 2012. It was created to help young undocumented residents to stay in the US and work legally. Many could receive an advance parole document that allowed them to travel and get back to the US to cure the entrance without inspection. Currently, still in effect. In 2014, DACA was to be expanded, but the opposition forces sued the government and the new plan together with proposed DAPA are still frozen.
- I 601A waiver and its expansion
I -601A Provisional waiver was implemented in 2013 and allowed those who entered the US without inspection or, let’s say using C1/D or K visas, to receive immigrant visas overseas and return back. The waiver “waived” the unlawful presence bar, and the best part about it: it is possible to file for it and wait for the result of the filing in the United States.
- New Rules about Work Visas
Under the President Obama administration, holders of the work visas and future holders, received good news: automatic extensions of employment authorization in case of re-filing; H4 employment authorizations under certain conditions; 2-year EAD cards for asylum seekers, improved portability rules for employment based immigrants.
- Parole program for entrepreneurs
A very new change: just came into effect parole for business people who will improve and contribute into the US economy. The program designed for start-ups and covers spouses and children of the qualified entrepreneurs.
- Clarification and expansion of military parole in place program
Parole in place policy was explained and expanded: immediate relatives of military and ex-military members received an opportunity to be “paroled” or allowed to “enter” the US legally without actually leaving the US.
- And of course, we cannot forget expansion of Federal Immigration benefits for the same-sex couples: one of the biggest and most fought for benefit.
- Parole for children of from certain South American countries whose parents are in the US legally; Parole for members of the families of Pilipino World War II veterans.
It is quite regretful that during its last days, the Obama administration decided to abolish Cuban parole (wet foot/dry foot) policy. Nevertheless, if to focus on positives, one should admit that in addition to new liberalized regulations, the function of the DHS became more transparent within the past 8 years. I hope that the incoming President will focus on finding reasonable solutions, rather than unreasonable conclusions.