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The Stocking Stuffers – What Santa Left Us, Besides Just Deferred Action

Kolko Staff Christmas Stockings 2014

While wide-spread immigration relief was something we were all excited to see during this holiday season, there was much more than simple deferred action left for us.  Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (“DAPA”) will provide much needed relief for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, and that’s easily the biggest gift left for us under the Christmas tree this year, but we shouldn’t overlook all of the great things left for us in our stockings, as well.  Many programs were announced by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security which should provide for expanded immigration benefits to a whole host of people, helping to push America’s economy forward.

TPS for Ebola-Stricken Countries – The White House announced that citizens of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, who were present in the U.S. on November 20, 2014, will receive Temporary Protected Status, eliminating the threat of forced removal from the United States, and allowing employment authorization, while their countries deal with the ongoing Ebola crisis.

Expanded DACA – The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is also being expanded to include more of the children that grew up in the United States.  This has largely been a successful program, and the expanded program will also expand the term of approval from two years to three years.

Clarification of “Extreme Hardship” – USCIS announced that it will clearly define the term “extreme hardship” via memorandum or guidance.  This is expected to benefit many people who are applying for inadmissibility waivers.  Many people have been denied waivers due to inconsistent adjudication of their applications.  This will affect, chiefly, spouses of U.S. citizens, who are seeking waivers to become residents of the United States.  Many of these applicants are ineligible because they spent too much time in the U.S. without status.

Expanded Provisional Waiver Program – The White House announced that USCIS will expand the provisional waiver program to allow more people to apply.  Currently, spouses and parents of U.S. citizens can apply for provisional approval of their waiver before departing the United States.  Under the new program, spouses of lawful permanent residents will be able to apply, as well.  By seeking provisional approval prior to travel, this program greatly shortens the time a foreign national spends abroad to secure their immigrant visa, thereby promoting family unity.

Expanding Business Immigration – The White House also announced that USCIS will expand efforts to help America’s economy through expanded business immigration efforts.  The Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) program will be expanded in time and scope to alleviate some of the pressure from the H-1B visa cap problems.  Parole programs for investors, researchers, and start-up enterprises will also begin.  Expansion of the National Interest Waiver program was also announced to help keep some of the most brilliant minds here inside the United States and contributing to our own future.  And USCIS is expected to clarify much needed issues in the AC21 job portability context, making it easier for beneficiaries to seek advanced jobs without losing their place in the visa line.

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Kolko & Casey, P.C. is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese and we can arrange for translators in any other language.