Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children will be allowed to remain in the country without fear of deportation and able to work, the Obama administration announced on June 15th. The policy, while not granting any permanent legal status, clears the way for young illegal immigrants to come out of the shadows, work legally and obtain driver’s licenses and many other documents they have lacked.
“They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” President Obama said in an announcement about the new policy. He said he was taking “a temporary stopgap measure” that would “lift the shadow of deportation from these young people” and make immigration policy “more fair, more efficient and more just.”
The U.S. Department for Homeland Security announced that certain young people who meet specific requirements are a low enforcement priority, and can apply for Deferred Action. In order to be considered, the following requirements should be satisfied:
- 1) You were not above the age of thirty on June 15, 2012;
- 2) You came to the United States Under the age of sixteen;
- 3) You continuously lived in the United States for at least five years before June 15, 2012, and you were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
- 4) You are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard who was honorably discharged; and
You have not been convicted of a felony offense, significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, and you do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
If you meet all of these requirements, you can apply for Deferred Action; if granted, you can then apply for a work permit with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The period for Deferred Action is two years and it can be renewed.
What to do now?
In the coming weeks, USCIS will outline and announce the procedures by which individuals can apply for Deferred Action. The process is not yet in effect and requests should not be submitted at this time. Beginning June 18, individuals may call the USCIS hotline at 1-800-375-5283, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with questions or to request more information on the new process. The hotline offers assistance in English and Spanish. Individuals seeking more information on the new process should visit USCIS’s website (at http://www.uscis.gov).
It is important to remember to not believe or hire anyone who tells you they already have an application for you to fill out to apply for this deferred action policy. There are many people, even attorneys who are scamming the immigrant community. They are fraudulently charging people for an application process that is not even available, and filing applications for people who wouldn’t qualify in the first place.
- Now is the time to start collecting your documents to demonstrate your eligibility under this new policy.
- Gather your documents to show your presence in the United States on June 15th, 2012 as well as your presence in the country for the past five years.
- Obtain evidence of your age, such as a birth certificate, and your enrollment in a U.S. high school or documentation o graduation or certificate of general education (GED).
- If you have criminal offenses, obtain your records so an attorney or other legal services provider can help you figure out if your application would be eligible.
For updates on the Deferred Action Policy please visit the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov. To keep you safe from scams, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have created a special webpage at http://www.uscis.gov/avoidscams.