President Obama is slated to make a speech announcing a new executive order that will reform the U.S. immigration system at 5 p.m. PT this evening. It’s a move that has been greeted with praise from the tech industry, which has been pushing for a reform package that will allow more people from overseas to come work in America.
While exact details are scarce, the president is slated to reveal a multifaceted plan that includes an expansion of work visas for high-skilled workers who are in line for a green card. An expansion of those H1-B visas has been a key request made by many tech companies, as well as a venture capital community looking to recruit foreign entrepreneurs who don’t have the support of large firms.
“We are pleased to learn the president intends to expand visa opportunities for venture-backed entrepreneurs who all too often lose out in the race to secure U.S. visas,” Bobby Franklin, the President and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association, said in a press release. “By targeting solutions to help foreign-born entrepreneurs build their businesses in the U.S., President Obama has made clear he understands the important role the entrepreneurial ecosystem plays in our economy and is prepared to do all he can to ensure the U.S. remains the global hub of innovation.”
In addition to the visa expansion, President Obama’s executive action will also reportedly include orders that shift enforcement priorities within the Department of Homeland Security to focus on deporting undocumented felons, and undocumented immigrants who have crossed into the U.S. after January 1, 2014. Parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been living in the U.S. for 5 years or more will be able to apply for a three-year work permit, provided they give over biometric information, pass a background check and pay fees.
It’s unclear how the plan will fare long-term: Republican lawmakers are already voicing their opposition to Obama’s moves, saying that they will try to block the president’s actions next year when the new Congress sits down.
“If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement today.
People interested in watching Obama’s address about the plans can do so here, or below.