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New changes to immigration policy could affect millions

Immigrants in Pennsylvania may stand to benefit from some recent changes that have been made to the United States immigration policy. On Nov. 20, President Barack Obama announced an executive order that will reportedly protect 4.9 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Foreigners interested in employment-based immigration may also benefit from provisions in the executive action.

The millions of undocumented immigrants who will now gain deportation protection include the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. According to statements in Obama's speech, the order will provide deferred action for these immigrants for periods of three years. In order to qualify for the deferred action, the undocumented immigrants must have lived in the country for five years or more and have a clean criminal background.

Although the deferred action for undocumented immigrants is getting the most attention, there are other portions of Obama's executive order that immigrants could stand to benefit from. Some provisions in the executive order are aimed at streamlining the process for obtaining an employment based green card and allowing green cards to remain valid when immigrants change jobs. The executive action also seeks to make immigration easier for highly skilled immigrant workers and entrepreneurs. Work authorization will now be granted to H-4 dependent spouses of highly skilled workers.

As immigration laws are frequently subject to change, staying up to date on new policies could help an immigrant avoid any unnecessary legal issues. An immigration attorney may be able to help an individual better understand how changes in immigration policy affect their particular case and help them to take advantage of the changes when possible.

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

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