On Friday, August 3, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued new guidance on the process and benefits of obtaining deferred action status for certain young immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children. Individuals eligible for this status will be able to apply beginning on August 15, 2012, when USCIS is scheduled to release full details on the exact application procedure as well as the new application form.
Once the application procedures are in place in mid-August, eligible individuals will be able to apply for deferred action status as well as for employment authorization (a work permit). Dyer Immigration Law Group (DILG) applauds the Administration's initiative, and eagerly looks forward to helping eligible young people apply for deferred action status and its benefits.
Deferred Action Status
- Deferred action is a kind of administrative relief from deportation. Although it does not provide a path to lawful permanent resident status (a "green card") or U.S. citizenship, it allows a person to temporarily remain and reside here.
- A person in deferred action may also apply for employment authorization (a "work permit") for the period during which he or she has deferred action status.
- Under this program, deferred action status will be granted for two years. When the two-year period expires, a person can apply to have the grant of deferred action and employment authorization can be renewed.
- A person who has already been granted deferred action may be permitted to travel outside the U.S. if he or she applies for, and receives, advance parole from USCIS. (Please note, however, that you should consult an immigration attorney prior to traveling if you have been in the country without status. Additionally, if you travel outside the U.S. after August 15, 2012 without requesting deferred action, you will not be eligible for deferred action).
- A person in deferred action status also does not accrue unlawful presence in the United States while the deferred action is in effect. (This is particularly important for individuals who can apply for deferred action before they reach the age of eighteen, to help them avoid significant immigration barriers later on.)
Not every young immigrant will qualify. In order to be eligible for deferred action status under the June 15, 2012 policy, an individual must prove that he or she:
- Came to the United States under the age of 16;
- Was under 31 years old on June 15, 2012;
- Has continuously lived in the United States for at least five years since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of applying;
- Is currently attending school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development (G.E.D.) certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard;
- Has not been convicted of a felony offense, significant misdemeanor offense, three or more misdemeanor offenses, nor otherwise poses a threat to the community or national security.
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or lawful immigration status has expired as of June 15, 2012; and
- Is 15 years old or older, if he or she has never been in removal (deportation) proceedings, or has had those proceedings terminated. If he or she is currently in removal proceedings, has a final order of removal, or has voluntary departure, he or she can apply even if not yet 15 years old.
Filing Process and Filing Fees
Beginning on August 15, 2012, candidates may submit their applications to USCIS on a newly-created form. The total USCIS filing fees for the deferred action and the employment authorization applications will be $465.
Applying for Deferred Action
DHS has indicated that deferred action status will be granted on a case-by-case basis, thus even if you believe you meet all these requirements, DHS will still have to decide to grant deferred action. Experienced immigration attorneys at DILG can help you prepare a complete and thorough application to demonstrate your qualification for this status.
Don't place yourself in peril. Significantly, people who are found to be ineligible for deferred action because of criminal history, fraud, or because they represent a danger to the community may be referred to Immigration Court for removal proceedings or other immigration enforcement action.
- DHS considers many different kinds of misdemeanor offenses to be "significant misdemeanors," including those for which a person received no jail time.
- If you have ever been arrested by the police, you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney before applying for deferred action. The immigration attorneys at DILG will assist you in determining the consequences of any convictions.
If you believe you or someone you know would qualify for deferred action, and you would like to discuss applying for this status, call us toll free at 1.877.377.1247 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. We speak English, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.