Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Deferred Action - What You Need to Know

On June 15, 2012, President Barak Obama announced a new procedure for young people, who were brought to the United States before the age of 16 and who would otherwise be subject to removal to countries that they do not remember or where a language is spoken that they do not speak, to be granted 2 years of deferred action.  This means merely that the individuals granted deferred action will not be subject to removal in this 2 year period.  This is a great step for young people, but it is important to sort out what the program is, what it is not, and how to go about requesting this in your case.  This is not amnesty, nor is it a grant of legal status to undocumented individuals.  Only Congress may confer immigration benefits.  

This is merely a program to lift the cloud of deportation from those young persons who were brought here while they were young and who have lived most of their lives as Americans and have contributed in many ways to our society, but are under threat of deportation, through no fault of their own as they lacked the required intent to violate the law.  Although administrative closure under previous prosecutorial discretion directions have already been helping individuals in this circumstance, further action was deemed to be needed to ensure that these low priority cases were not diverting resources from high-priority criminal immigration cases.  

This is not the DREAM Act.  More needs to be done in that direction, but that is solely in the hands of Congress to do.  This policy is designed to make life more bearable for these individuals and allow them to continue contributing as productive members of American society until more comprehensive immigration reform can be passed through Congress. 

Hopefully this information will help explain the program and the best ways to take advantage of this new policy.

CRITERIA: Pursuant to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano’s June 15, 2012 memorandum, in order to be eligible for deferred action, individuals must:
  1. Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and were present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
  3. Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate (G.E.D.), or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. 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;
  5. Not be above the age of thirty or under the age of 15.
Individuals must also successfully complete a background check and, for those individuals who make a request to USCIS and are not subject to a final order of removal, must be 15 years old or older.

IMPORTANT: As of the date of this publication this program has not yet begun, and the USCIS is intending to use the full 60-day allotment to implement this new policy.  The procedure for application for deferred action has not yet been established.  We do not know if there will be a form to fill out, or if there will be a fee charged.  Please continue reading for information about what sorts of evidence you can be gathering in the meantime or contact our office at 513-877-4209 or

DO NOT attempt to place yourself in removal proceedings to receive deferred action.  It is not necessary and will bring more trouble than good.

DO NOT request deferred action if you KNOW that you are ineligible, under any of the criteria, as this can be used to institute removal proceedings against you, following USCIS’s Notice to Appear policy.  Under this policy, individuals whose requests are denied will be referred to ICE if they have a criminal conviction or if there is a finding of fraud in their request for deferred action.  This means it is VERY important to speak to a legitimate, authorized immigration attorney and be very wary of Notarios and others posing as immigration attorneys.

If you are CURRENTLY in removal proceedings, or about to be removed by ICE, please contact either the Law Enforcement Support Center’s hotline at 1-855-448-6903 (staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or the ICE Office of the Public Advocate through the Office’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 (staffed 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday) or by e-mail at

 It IS: a discretionary determination to defer removal action as an act of prosecutorial discretion.  
  • USCIS determines that moving your case to the side for two years meets its discretionary enforcement goals, and it will not pursue your removal in this two-year period.
  • It is also RENEWABLE.  USCIS does not see this program ending at any point in the near future and therefore has decided that after the initial granting of a 2 year deferred action, the individual may request again for the same 2 year deferral.
  • It DOES provide for Employment Authorization for those granted deferred action, and our office can assist you with the employment authorization process. 
  It is NOT: an amnesty program or a granting of legal status, nor a path to citizenship.
  • Deferred action does NOT grant the applicant a legal status, a green card, or citizenship.
  • It does NOT remove any previously accrued unlawful presence time, and although unlawful presence does not accrue during the 2 year deferred action period, if the deferred action comes to an end and is not renewed, then unlawful presence will resume accrual.
  • It does NOT award deferred action to any family members, dependents, or immediate relatives.  This is an individual process and each eligible individual must submit a request separately.

CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK: In order to qualify for deferred action, an individual must pass a background check that USCIS will perform using all available databases.  They will be looking for convictions that may disqualify the individual from receiving deferred action.  Individuals who have been convicted of ANY Felony, a Significant Misdemeanor Offense, or three or more misdemeanor offenses (not in relation to the same instance), or otherwise are found to pose a threat to national security or public safety are not eligible to be considered for deferred action.  
  • Examples of Significant Misdemeanors: A significant misdemeanor is a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by no more than one year of imprisonment or even no imprisonment that involves: violence, threats, or assault, including domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary, larceny, or fraud; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; obstruction of justice or bribery; unlawful flight from arrest, prosecution, or the scene of an accident; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or unlawful possession of drugs. 

If you have a criminal record, or have ever been arrested and have questions about your criminal record or possible post-conviction relief, please contact our offices.
DOCUMENTATION:  You may begin collecting information now to submit once USCIS has determined the manner in which it will process applications, but DO NOT submit anything yet.
  • To prove that an individual was present in the US before they turned 16: may include but is not limited to: financial records, medical records, school records, employment records and military records.
  • To prove that an individual has resided in the US for at least 5 years prior to June 15, 2012: may include but is not limited to: financial records, medical records, school records, employment records, and military records.
  • To prove that an individual was physically present in the US as of June 15, 2012: may include but is not limited to: financial records, medical records, school records, employment records, and military records.
  • To prove that an individual is currently in school, has graduated from high school, or has obtained a general education certificate (GED): may include, but is not limited to diplomas, GED certificates, report cards, and school transcripts.
  • To prove that an individual is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or US Armed Forces: may include, but is not limited to: report of separation forms, military personnel records, and military health records.
NOTARIO FRAUD:  In the US, Notarios are those who are engaging in the unauthorized practice of immigration law.  Please be extremely wary of those people claiming to be immigration lawyers who say that they can get you deferred action now, as the program is not yet available.  Until procedures have been announced by USCIS, do NOT trust anyone who wishes to charge a fee or fill out a form to help you request deferred action, as we do not yet know if there will be a form or fee associated with this.  Fraud may severely negatively impact your immigration status and could make you removable, the opposite of what you want.  Please report any fraudulent immigration practitioners to the proper authorities.  

There is no appeal process if your request for deferred action is denied, so please take the steps to make sure that your request is correctly done, and contact our office if you would like our assistance in doing so.
Neil I. Fleischer Esq.
The Fleischer Law Firm LLC
917 Main Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(p) (513)977-4209
(fax) (513)977-4218    
Twitter: @nfleischer


  1. My occurrence happened precedes 7 years prior to the June 15,2012 of the Memo, any ideas to move my case forward ? Or could the eligibility grounds be broadened to exclude those with DUI within the last 5 years as of the date of the memo ?

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