Friday, June 22, 2012

Applying for Deferred Action Under the President’s New Policy

On June 15, 2012, President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano announced a new policy to permit certain undocumented young people to remain in the United States and apply for work authorization.  No specific procedures have been adopted yet.  However, if you qualify, there are certain things you can do to prepare.

Do I Qualify?

To qualify, you must meet five criteria:
(1) Been brought to the United States while under the age of 16;
(2) Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007 or before;
(3) Currently be in school, have graduated from a high school, have earned a general equivalency diploma, or be honorably discharged from the Armed Forces or Coast Guard of the United States;
(4) Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or does otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety; and
(5) Is 30 or younger.

What Benefits Can I Get?

Postponement of removal (deportation)
Employment authorization

Can I Become a US Citizen?

No.  This policy does not lead either to permanent residency or citizenship.  It is only temporary protection from being removed (deported) from the United States.

How Do I Apply?

Since I first published this blog entry, new procedures were adopted.  See my later blog entries for a discussion on the procedures.

I am in Removal (Deportation) Proceedings Now.  What Do I Do?

As long as you are not in detention, you can still apply.

I am Not in Removal (Deportation) Proceedings, But I Think I Qualify.  What Should I Do?

If you are not in removal or deportation proceedings, applications should be made to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”).  There is already a process for applying for deferred action in general.  That is to apply to the District Director of the USCIS District where you live.  You should put together a letter explaining why you qualify for deferred action, and include supporting documentation.  It is expected that USCIS will adopt similar proceedings for this particular policy.

How Long Will the Benefit Last

Under this policy, you can receive deferred action and work authorization for two years.  Then, you can apply for an extension every two years after that.

Note, however, that this is an exercise of discretion of the Obama Administration.  There is no guarantee that this policy will continue.  Plus, it is an election year.  If a new president is elected, there is no guarantee that he will continue with this policy.

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