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New changes to immigration laws

On Nov. 20, President Obama issued an immigration-based executive order that may be of interest to Florida residents. The new order protects against deportation for undocumented parents of lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens. In addition, the executive order is designed to help keep skilled workers in the country.

In his announcement, Obama stated that the immigration system in this country is broken and common-sense laws are needed to repair it. The first part of that fix is to allow approximately 4.9 million undocumented parents of U.S. citizens to defer deportation for up to three years if they have been in the country for at least five years. To qualify for deferral, the parents must pass a criminal background check and agree to pay taxes. It was not stated what type of criminal convictions could prevent an individual from qualifying for deferral.

There are also some less sweeping changes. U.S. Customs and Immigration will work with the state department to issue green cards during the fiscal year to eligible individuals who submit approved petitions. The executive order would also allow dependent spouses of those with H-1B visas to receive authorization to work in the U.S., including spouses of those with extended visas under the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act. Finally, the order may allow individuals who already have work visas to change jobs where annual caps on H-1B visas previously would have prevented the transfer.

The immigration process can be complicated. A local attorney may be able to help immigrants determine how the executive order will impact their specific situations. For those who may qualify for deferment, an attorney may be able to help get the process started.

Source: Bloomberg, "Obama Immigration Order to Impact Millions, Includes Provisions for High-Skilled Workers", November 24, 2014

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