Breaking Immigration News | Deferred Action | Immigration Reform
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Lawyers in Austin, Texas
On June 15, 2012 President Obama and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano ordered a new immigration enforcement process known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Those young immigrants who qualify for DACA will be given the ability to live, work and stay in the U.S. for two years following approval from the United States Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Young immigrants who meet the basic requirements of DACA will receive work permits and will be recognized by the U.S. as documented immigrants. If you are a young person, who meets the criteria below or if you have questions about your eligibility, please contact our office at 512-474-4445 or click here.
Basic Requirements for DACA
An individual may be considered for DACA if he or she:
- Was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Has continuously resided in the United States 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 making his or her request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or his and her lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Is currently in school, has graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, has obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or was honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Under the age of 31 years old and at least 15 years of age.
DACA allows anyone under the age of 31 to apply for its benefits. Additionally, an applicant must be at least 15 years old at the time of filing to be eligible for DACA, however there is one exception. If an individual is in removal proceedings, then he or she may apply for DACA at any age.
Continuously Resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.
To apply for DACA, an applicant must provide USCIS all his or her absences from the U.S. since June 15, 2007 on his or her application. Not all absences from the U.S. will disqualify an applicant from DACA approval. For example, USCIS has stated it will take into account “brief, casual and innocent absences” and will take into account the length and reason for the absence in determining eligibility for DACA. The DACA application instructions also include examples possible reasons for travel, including attending a wedding or funeral. However, it is apparent from this language that an absence from the U.S. due to a removal order, voluntary departure order or for illegal purposes, such as trafficking drugs, trafficking immigrants, etc. will not be accepted as “brief, casual and innocent” for the purpose of DAA eligibility.
Additionally, the DACA application and instructions do not require proof of absences before June 15, 2007 and do not ask an applicant to list absences prior to June 15, 2007. Thus, it appears that any absence outside of the U.S. and reentry before June 15, 2007 will not disqualify an applicant for DACA.
Presence on June 15, 2012.
The DACA application also indicates that an applicant must show that he or she is one of the following:
- The applicant entered into the U.S. without inspection and was present in U.S. on June 15, 2012, or
- The applicant had status that expired before June 15, 2012 and was present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.
High School Diploma, GED or Certificate of Completion and Military Service
To apply for DACA, an applicant must meet one of the following criteria:
- Be attending high school,
- Have graduated from high school and have a diploma or certificate of completion,
- Have obtained a GED, or
- Received an honorable discharge as a veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
Unfortunately, those applicants who are preparing for the GED or who are in the process of taking the GED may not apply for DACA until they have completed their GED.
A juvenile offense is a crime committed by a person under the age of 16 years in Texas. Based on a reading of the DACA application instructions, it appears juvenile offenses will not disqualify an applicant from the DACA application process because juvenile offenses in Texas do not result in convictions. However, if an applicant is convicted of a juvenile offense, the applicant will be required to submit documentation of the dispositions to apply for DACA.
Documents Needed to Prove Identity
The DACA application instructions include a list of documents to submit. The instructions state that an applicant may submit “any of the following”, meaning an applicant is not required to submit all the documents included on the list. Thus, an applicant is not required to submit a passport to apply for DACA.
Other important factors to note:
Deadline to File:
There is no deadline to file. We currently believe the application process is an open registration, meaning once an individual turns 15 years old, he or she can apply for DACA.
For Those in Advanced Parole:
Do NOT submit advanced parole until your deferred action application has been approved.
At Peek and Toland, we are very excited about the opportunities the new executive order has offered young immigrants. Through our years of immigration experience we have had the deliver to bad news to numerous good, hardworking immigrants that they could not remain in the U.S. However, this new order now makes it possible for a different, happier outcome. At Peek and Toland, we hope to help young immigrants who meet the criteria for deferred action contribute to the American education system and the American workforce for now and into the future.
If you think you may be eligible for deferred action or if you want to ask more questions about your eligibility, contact our office at Peek and Toland at (512) 474-4445 or contact us on the contact page. We are also hosting free community events, for a list of the dates and the times of the events, please click here.
We have created two information packets in English and Spanish to help with any additional concerns and questions young immigrants or their parents and loved ones may have. Please click one of the buttons below to download the packet to your computer.
- Deferred Action Packet in English
- Deferred Action Packet in Spanish
- Additional Frequently Asked Questions in English
- USCIS Flow Chart for Deferred Action
- Alternative forms of Relief to Deferred Action
Deferred Action and the DREAM Act Frequently Asked Questions
What is deferred action?
Deferred action is not permanent residency and it is not citizenship. Deferred action is a discretionary act of prosecutorial discretion that defers a removal action of an immigrant. While the immigrant is in deferred action, the immigrant will not be removed (deported) from the U.S.
What are the requirements to be eligible for deferred action?
The immigrant must:
- Have come to the U.S. under the age of sixteen;
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and must be present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
- Currently in school, a graduate from high school or GED recipient, or is honorably discharged as a veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the U.S.;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
- Not be above the age of thirty.
Immigrants seeking deferred action must complete a background check. Finally, if the immigrant seeking deferred action is not subject to a final order of removal, he or she must be at least 15 years old or older.
How long will I be given deferred action?
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deferred action will only be granted for two year periods. When the two year period expires, the immigrant will need to renew the deferred action and have his or her case re-reviewed.
What if I have a pending removal (deportation) case against me or I have a final order of removal (deportation) against me?
The new directive applies to those individuals who have pending removal cases against them and those who have final orders of removal against them. Regardless of pending removal proceedings or a final order of removal, an individual who meets all the criteria may request review of his or her case for deferred action.
Does deferred action apply to individuals who are not in removal (deportation) proceedings or have a final order of removal against them?
Yes. However, those individuals who meet the criteria must request review by the USCIS.
Does deferred action provide individuals with a path to citizenship or permanent legal status?
No. Deferred action does not grant any further permanent legal status or citizenship. However, deferred action does allow those individuals who meet the criteria to live and work in the U.S. for the two year period.
If I am approved for deferred action can I apply for employment authorization?
Yes. Those individuals who meet the criteria and are approved for deferred action may apply for employment authorization.
What does this recent news mean for the DREAM Act?
Based on the information we have received, Congress is still considering the DREAM Act and how best to provide certainty to young immigrants living in the U.S.
If you have additional questions about deferred action and immigration reform or if you want to consult with an attorney about your eligibility, contact our office. Our experienced immigration attorneys look forward to helping you with your case and answering your questions about deferred action.