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National Restaurant Association - Immigration executive actions: What you need to know now

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Immigration executive actions: What you need to know now

It isn’t clear yet exactly how President Obama’s series of executive actions on immigration, which will give millions of undocumented immigrants a path to temporary legal status, will affect restaurants and other employers.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, will be working to implement the actions, and the first elements are expected to take effect in about three months. We’ll have full analyses of the elements and their impact on restaurants as USCIS releases guidance to explain the changes.

Here are some of the more common questions restaurateurs are asking:

Who will qualify for temporary legal status?

President Obama’s executive actions will allow approximately 5 million individuals to apply for temporary legal status.  They’ll also temporarily halt deportations of individuals who have been in the U.S. continuously for at least five years, unless they’re considered to be a threat to national security or public safety. Specifically, the executive actions:

  • expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, to include individuals who were born before June 15, 1981, and who have been in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010
  • expand the length of employment authorization for individuals in the DACA program from two to three years.
  • allow the parents of citizens or lawful permanent residents who have had continuous residence in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010, to apply for temporary legal status.
  • allow individuals who are the child or spouse of lawful permanent residents and who have resided unlawfully in the U.S. for at least 180 days to request a provisional waiver of their unlawful presence.

When do the executive actions take effect?

Expansion of DACA will take effect on or around Feb. 20, 2015, which is also when individuals may begin to apply for the program. Deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents will begin on or about May 20, 2015. Individuals may begin to request provisional waivers of their unlawful presence once new guidelines are issued.

What changes will employers need to make?

Employers are still required to complete all the necessary local, state and federal documents that they are required to complete when hiring new employees. USCIS will issue further guidance in the coming months regarding the executive actions.

Do the executive actions mean employers no longer have to verify employment eligibility?

No. Employers must continue to require all employees to complete I-9 forms and take all other necessary steps to ensure their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S. If employers use E-Verify, they must continue to make a good-faith effort to verify the employment eligibility of employees.  

What actions do individuals who plan to apply for a deferral need to take?

Applications won’t be accepted until the executive actions take effect. However, USCIS recommends that individuals who plan on applying gather documents to establish their identity, relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and proof that they have resided in the U.S. continuously for five or more years.

Where can I find more information on the executive actions?

Updates will be available on the USCIS website. You may register to receive alerts via email when new information on the executive actions becomes available.

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