In our continuing series about international student immigration issues, our guest blogger, immigration and naturalization attorney Laurie Woog, provides answers to your most frequently asked questions about the recent changes to immigration policy otherwise known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Undocumented students wishing to apply to college should take note! The policy change will have definite implications for your college options. This is the first blog in a series of two that will cover DACA policy.
What is “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?”
Through this new policy, announced on June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security will allow certain undocumented youth who did not intentionally violate immigration laws to live and work temporarily in the United States. These young people were brought to the United States as children by their parents and would benefit from provisions of the DREAM Act, if it were passed. Therefore, those who can apply for deferred action now are frequently referred to as “DREAMers.”
What are the requirements for deferred action?
You must be at least 15 years of age in most cases and prove that you:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, or are an honorably discharged veteran; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
What are the benefits of deferred action?
If you receive an approval and work authorization you may be able to improve your job prospects, obtain a social security number, obtain a driver’s license, enroll in college, and receive financial aid, among other things.
Does deferred action provide me with a path to permanent residence status or citizenship?
No. Deferred action means you will not be placed in removal proceedings because the government considers you to be a low enforcement priority. It does not confer lawful status or give you a path to citizenship. Furthermore, although DACA currently provides for the possibility of an extension or renewal after two years, it is not clear whether the program would be continued if a new federal administration is elected in November, 2012.
What if I left the United States briefly at one point? Can I still apply?
If you were absent from the United States for any period of time, your absence will be considered brief, casual, and innocent, if it was before August 15, 2012 and meets several other criteria.
How do I apply for deferred action?
You must submit three forms, Form I-821D, Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-765WS, Income and Expenses worksheet. You must also submit documentation that proves you qualify for deferred action, and the correct filing fee ($465). Make sure that you send the application package to the correct office by checking the information on filing addresses at uscis.gov/I-821D. You must be careful to keep a copy of everything that you submit to USCIS, and send your package via certified mail or another method you can track.
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