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August 10, 2012 - 10 Highlights of Obama's New Immigration Policy

 On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration, through the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS,) announced that certain individuals who came to the United States as children and met several key guidelines may request consideration for “deferred action” for a period of two years, subject to renewal.  If deferred action is granted, the Secretary noted that applicants would then also be eligible for work authorization.  Applicants will be eligible to apply starting on August 15, 2012 when United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) publishes the required forms. What exactly is deferred action and what does it entail?  

 
1. Deferred action does NOT provide a legal status in the U.S. or a path to citizenship or permanent residence
 
It is a discretionary determination made by officials at USCIS to defer removal action of an individual.  Deferred action does not confer lawful status for the period of deferral.  Thus, deferred action does not provide a path to lawful permanent resident status (i.e., green card holder status) or U.S. citizenship.  However, it does stop the unlawful status clock, so to speak.  Meaning once you are granted deferred action you will not accrue more unlawful status. In addition, you will be eligible to obtain a work permit that will allow you to work legally in the U.S.
 
2. Information shared by applicants will generally NOT be shared
 
The information an applicant provides to USCIS to request deferred action for childhood arrivals will not be used against the applicant for immigration enforcement purposes except if the applicant meets the criteria for (a) the issuance of a Notice to Appear (NTA) or (b) a referral to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  What exactly is this criteria?  See the following link:   www.uscis.gov/NTA or contact us for more details.
 
3. Applicants with certain criminal convictions are NOT eligible
 
An applicant is ineligible for deferred action if he/she has a conviction for a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or multiple misdemeanors.  Note that offenses criminalized as felonies or misdemeanors by State immigration laws will not be treated as disqualifying felonies or misdemeanors pursuant to a deferred action request.  For further clarification, see http://www.uscis.gov/definitions Minor traffic violations will not be considered misdemeanors for the purposes of this process. 
 
4. Only applicants that are currently out of status may apply
 
You can only request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you currently have no immigration status and were not in any lawful status on June 15, 2012.  Thus, applicants currently in a nonimmigrant status (e.g. F-1, E-2, H-4, TPS), do not qualify.
 
5. Applicants in removal proceeding should contact ICE and NOT apply through USCIS
 
Applicants in removal proceedings should not submit request for deferred action for childhood arrival to USCIS; instead you should identify yourself to your detention officer or contact the ICE Office of the Public Advocate through the Office’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 (staffed 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday) or by email at EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.
 
 If you are in removal proceedings, have a final removal order, or have a voluntary departure order and believe you can demonstrate that you meet the guidelines for deferred action for childhood arrivals, immediately contact either the Law Enforcement Support Center’s hotline at 1-855-448-6903 (staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or the ICE Office of the Public Advocate through the Office’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 (staffed 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday) or by email at EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.
 
6. Applicants not in removal proceedings may request deferred action from USCIS starting August 15, 2012
 
If you are not in immigration detention and want to affirmatively request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals, you must submit your request to USCIS – not Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – no earlier than August 15, 2012 (any request made earlier than this date will be rejected).  
 
7. The fee for applying for deferred action and the work permit will be $465.00
 
Your request will be made through a form along with another form requesting an employment authorization document (both forms will be available on www.uscis.gov on August 15, 2012).  The total fee will be $465.00.  Fee waivers will be available in limited circumstances. Requests for fee exemptions will be available on August 15, 2012 at the following link:www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals.  
 
8. USCIS will conduct a background check before granting deferred action
 
After applying for deferred action for childhood arrivals, USCIS in reviewing your case will conduct a background check.  Thus, it is vital that the applicant does not knowingly make a misrepresentation or fail to disclose facts.  Doing so will cause the applicant to be treated as an immigration enforcement priority, subject to criminal prosecution and/or removal from the United States. 
 
9. Immediate relatives and dependents will NOT be considered childhood arrivals 
 
The decision on whether to grant deferred action will be based on the individual application submitted.  Therefore, only the applicant will be able to obtain deferred action based on his/her application; the applicant’s parent, child, or spouse must submit a separate application and qualify for deferred action on their own.
 
10. Documents necessary for deferred action request
 
An applicant seeking deferred action for childhood arrivals should begin accumulating documents and records that demonstrate:  (a) that he/she came to the United States before the age of 16; (b) that he/she resided in the United States for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012; (c) that he/she was physically present in the United States as of June 15, 2012; (d) that he/she is either currently in school, or has graduated from high school, or has obtained a general education development certificate (GED), or has been honorably discharged as a veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States. 
 


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