Eight years after the law is passed, he expects the backlog of legal applicants to be cleared up. Then undocumented residents may apply for provisional legal status and a green card.
Young undocumented people, usually called Dreamers, may apply for green cards two years after the law is passed.
The plan calls for payments of back taxes and penalties of a few hundred dollars. Applicants with serious criminal records will not be eligible.
The Obama plan would increase the number of visas for Mexicans and others. At present, most Mexicans must wait at least 16 years to get a green card.
It does not deal with changing the rules for agricultural and low-wage workers.
Republicans and immigrant advocate groups took issue with the plan. Republicans said the plan violated an agreement that Congress would draft the plan. The president said his plan was a draft and a “backup” if Congress does not come to an agreement.
Advocates are calling for a much shorter waiting period for green cards.