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Deferred Action for “DREAMers” - August 2012

August 17, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security began offering deferred action for qualified undocumented immigrants on August 15, 2012. Deferred action does not confer lawful status to an individual, but it does stop the accumulation of unlawful presence for the duration of the deferral period.

Qualified individuals may receive deferred action for a period of two years. The individuals receiving approval of deferred action will not be placed into removal proceedings or removed from the United States during the deferral period. Individuals who are currently in removal proceedings and/or have received final orders of removal, as well as those who have never been in removal proceedings, may apply for deferred action. One of the most significant benefits of deferred action under this program is that individuals who are granted deferred action may apply for work authorization from USCIS. This benefit also makes individuals eligible for other benefits such as applying for an identification card and/or driver’s license. Individuals who receive a grant of deferred action may also apply for advance parole by completing Form I-131 and paying the applicable fee.

In order to apply for deferred action, individuals must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. came to the United States before reaching his or her 16th birthday;
  3. has continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007 through the present time;
  4. was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and at the time of application to USCIS;
  5. entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. is currently in school, has graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, has obtained a GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Every request for deferred action will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If an individual has a conviction of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, deferred action will not be granted unless exceptional circumstances exist.

A word of caution: Every individual applying for deferred action will be subject to a background check. While USCIS and Homeland Security have stated that they will not be routinely providing names and information to ICE or CBP, they can and will provide information necessary for national security and public safety. When in doubt, it is highly recommended to seek the advice of an immigration lawyer before filing to evaluate your particular case.

Written by Anne C. Lahren.