February 24, 2020

February 24, 2020

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President Obama Announces Plan for Executive Action on Immigration

Yesterday evening, President Obama announced his administration's plans to utilize executive action to reform the current immigration system. The announced plan includes the following employment-based immigration changes:

  • Modernize the employment-based immigrant visa (green card) system to prevent unissued visas despite high demand.

  • Extend the optional practical training (OPT) time period for foreign students with science, math, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees working at E-Verify employers and expand the eligible fields of study.   

  • Temporary parole status and permanent residence through the national interest waiver program for qualifying foreign investors, researchers and founders of starts-ups.

  • Clear and consolidated guidance for the L-1B program (intra-company transfer for specialized knowledge employees) to improve consistency in adjudications. 

  • Clarify job changes permitted during the permanent residence process including allowing promotions to remove unnecessary restrictions to natural career progression. 

  • Provide work authorization to certain spouses of H-1B visas holders who have begun the permanent residence process. 

  • Modernize the labor certification recruitment and application process.

The plan also includes temporary deferred action and work authorization for three years for parents of US citizens or permanent residence who have been in the country since January 1, 2010 and removes the upper age restriction and extends the deferred action and employment authorization period from two to three years for children who came to the US before turning 16 and have been present in the US since January 1, 2010. Both deferred action plans only offer temporary relief from deportation and work authorization and do not provide any type of path to permanent residence or citizenship. The plans also do not provide any type of safe-harbor for employers currently employing employees eligible for deferred action.  Accordingly, employers should continue to comply with work authorization requirements and refer any employees who request assistance with deferred action to outside resources. 

The executive actions on immigration are expected to be implemented through policy memorandums and regulations in the coming months. We will continue to provide updates and opportunities as they become available.  

© 2020 Varnum LLP


About this Author

Kimberly A. Clarke, Varnum, Immigration Lawyer

Kim focuses her practice on immigration matters, including nonimmigrant petitions, both employment- and family-based permanent residence applications, expatriation and foreign visa issues. She has developed a strong background in the area of worker verification issues and managed clients through internal and agency Form I-9 audits, USICE compliance investigations and civil criminal charges.

In addition, Kim maintains a specialty practice of consultation with agricultural clients and handles various agricultural labor and employment issues such as compliance with...

Nina A. Thekdi, immigration lawyer, Varnum

Nina focuses her practice on business and family-based immigration matters.  Her experience encompasses nonimmigrant visa petitions including H-1B visas, L-1A and L-1B visas, TN visas under the NAFTA treaty, and O-1 visas. She also assists clients with employment-based permanent residence petitions including the labor certifications process, EB-1 extraordinary ability, EB-1 outstanding professor and researchers and EB-1 multinational managers and executives petitions; family-based permanent residence applications; naturalization applications; and foreign visa issues.   She guides clients through the process of obtaining short-term visas and permanent residence status for skilled personnel, including technical professionals, accountants, scientists, managers and executives.  Nina also provides counsel regarding effective immigration compliance programs.