The Obama administration announced on Friday it would relax enforcement of deportation rules for young people brought to the United States without legal status, a shift in immigration policy that could be designed to appeal to Hispanics in an election year.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement that people up to 30 years old who came to the United States as children and do not pose a risk to national security would be eligible to stay in the country and allowed to apply for work permits.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” Napolitano said in a statement. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case.”

Under the new plan, those aged between 16 and 30 who have lived in the US continuously for five years would be eligible for amnesty from deportation.

Eligible candidates will also be able to apply for a work permit.

In order to be eligible under the new initiative, illegal immigrants must:

-have arrived in the US when they were under the age of 16

-have lived continuously in the US for at least five years

-must be in school, or have graduated from high school or be honourably discharged veterans of the US military

-have no criminal record

-be under 30 years old.