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Obama's New Illegal Immigration Rules Mean Prepare for New Clients

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

Some 800,000 young illegal immigrants no longer face deportation under the Obama administration's new policy, announced Friday. The change could mean a wave of new clients for immigration lawyers.

The new rules technically allow "deferred action" regarding deportation for illegal immigrants who fit certain criteria, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explained. "This grant ... is not immunity, it is not amnesty," she said, according to Reuters.

It's also "not a path to citizenship," President Barack Obama emphasized in announcing the new policy at the White House.

So what is the new policy?

Effective immediately, illegal immigrants 30 and younger who meet certain requirements are eligible for "deferred action" regarding deportation proceedings for a two-year period. After that, "deferred action" can be renewed, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

To qualify for "deferred action" under the Obama administration's new rules, an immigrant:

  • Cannot pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  • Cannot have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanors;
  • Must have continuously resided in the United States at least five years;
  • Must have entered the United States when he or she was 15 or younger; and
  • Must either be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military.

Deferred action requests are being decided on a case-by-case basis. Eligible immigrants currently in deportation proceedings will be offered deferred action, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Though the new policy takes effect immediately, the application process may take as long as 60 days to be fully implemented. Meantime, DHS is directing questions to the websites and toll-free hotlines for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (1-800-375-5283) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (1-888-351-4024).

The next part of the Obama administration's new plan is to allow eligible young illegal immigrants to apply for work permits. That should begin within a few months, the president said.

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