Obama’s immigration policy makes it possible for a certain category of undocumented immigrants to achieve deferred action and avoid deportation.

President Barack Obama, in a highly controversial move, issued an executive order which essentially passes the DREAM Act affecting undocumented immigrants brought to the United States mostly by their parents at a young age. The DREAM Act, once a part of a larger comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) which never made it out of Congress, was thought to be more apt to pass Congressional muster if separated from the CIR efforts. It did not and the DREAM continued to be a nightmare.

President Obama has stepped in and issued the executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to give deferred action to a certain category of undocumented immigrants. Deferred action does not convey legal status nor is it a path to citizenship but it does allow for cancellation of removal/deportation for those in removal proceedings or with orders of removal or deportation. Those who are undocumented and have not had contact with the immigration system can step forward and request deferred action. Once granted deferred action, applicants will also be granted permission to legally work in the United States and the ability to obtain a driver’s license if otherwise eligible.

The criteria for this deferred action:

  • Must have entered the United States before reaching the age of 16;
  • Must be in the United States for at least 5 years;
  • Must be age 30 or below on 6/15/2012;
  • Must have graduated high school or obtained a GED;
  • Must not have been convicted of a serious crime.
  • The President instructed the DHS to be ready to implement this program within the next 60 days.

    Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals: Do You Qualify?

    You application will be submitted to the USCIS lockbox and considered at one of the four USCIS service centers. Unless you are currently detained, you application will only be handled by USCIS. In the event that you have been detained, you must submit your DA request to the United Sates Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If you application is approved, action against you removal from the country will be deferred for two years. After two years, you may pay a free and re-apply. If you are less than 18 years old, you may not have to pay the fee if you are homeless, in foster care, have no parental support, have no income or cannot care for yourself because of a disability.

    If your application is denied the USCIS will not refer your information to ICE unless you are considered a threat to national security. Under most circumstances, you must be at least 15 years old to apply; if removal proceedings have been ordered against you, you may apply anyway. If you were more than 16 years old when you entered the United States, your application will be automatically rejected. You must have lived in the United States for the five years prior to your application. Any brief and casual absences from the country will not be counted against you unless you were not present in the U.S. after June 6th, 2012. If you application is accepted, you may file form I-131 Advance Parole Request.

    Pending immigration-related petitions with the USCIS will not interfere with your ability to apply for DA. However, if you have been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor, your application will not be considered. In short, a felony is any crime punishable by one year (or more) of incarceration. A significant misdemeanor is punishable by five days (or more) of incarceration. A significant misdemeanor might include:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Exploitation
  • Burglary
  • Drug distribution
  • Drug trafficking
  • Domestic Violence
  • Additionally, if you have been convicted of three or more misdemeanors, your application will not be considered for approval. Minor traffic violations are considered misdemeanors.

    For the purposes of your application, the term “in school” means that you were enrolled in school at the time you deferred action is requested. When you apply, you must be able to present documentation that demonstrates your presence in the United States since you were a child. You must also show that you have continually resided in the country for the past five years, and that you were physically present in the United States by June 15th, 2012. You may use military-, school- or employment-related documents to demonstrate this. Once you have applied, you will able to track you request online. If you are denied, the USCIS does not allow you to appeal its decision. However, you may file a motion for the USCIS to reconsider your application or re-open your case.