Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Updates

USCIS has posted updates regarding the announcement of deferred action for childhood arrivals made on June 15, 2012.  The newest information can be found here, but here are some notes worth mentioning:
  • ·         This process does not begin until August 15, 2012.  Do not attempt to apply for Deferred Action before this time.
  • ·         The forms will be made available via the USCIS website on or before August 15, 2012. 
  • ·         The fee for filing the deferred action form and employment authorization form is $465 and there is no  fee waiver available.  However, there are very limited fee exemptions, and applicants are encouraged to closely review the conditions on USCIS’s FAQ page.
  • ·         There is no appeal process if your application for deferred action is denied, and although the consideration notes state that only aliens meeting the ICE policy guidance on the issuance of Notices to Appear will be placed in removal proceedings, applicants are urged to use extreme caution and discretion when reviewing the guidelines for this deferred action process.  If you believe that your case is questionable, or that you may not be eligible, we urge you to seek the advice of a licensed immigration attorney before filing your application.
  • ·         If you have leave the country at any time after the August 15, 2012 start date of this program, you will be ineligible for deferred action, even if your application has already been filed.  If you have left the country since your entry, prior to August 15, 2012, for a brief, casual, or innocent type of travel, then your continuous presence requirement for deferred action will not be affected.  If you have left the country since your entry, prior to August 15, 2012 for an extended time, because of an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal, or to participate in criminal activity, this travel does affect the determination of continuous residence and your application may be denied. 
  • ·         USCIS regards the following crimes as significant misdemeanors that would disqualify an applicant from being approved for deferred action status: a misdemeanor (one for which the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is one year or less but greater than five days) and that meets the following criteria: (1) regardless of the sentence imposed, is an offense of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or driving under the influence; or (2) if not an offense listed above, is one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of more than 90 days.  The sentence must involve time to be served in custody and therefore does not include a suspended sentence.
  • ·         Applicants should be aware that even the absence of criminal history as outlined above does not mean that an applicant will be approved, as any approval is subject to an individualized, thorough, and discretionary review. 

As a reminder, the guidelines for Deferred Action are as follows:
Pursuant to the Secretary’s June 15, 2012 memorandum, in order to be considered for deferred action for childhood arrivals, you must submit evidence, including support documents, showing that you:
1.     Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
2.     Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
3.     Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
4.     Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
5.     Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
6.     Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and;
7.     Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
These guidelines must be met for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals. USCIS retains the ultimate discretion on whether deferred action is appropriate in any given case.
If you have any questions about the guidelines, or about your particular eligibility under these guidelines, please do not hesitate to contact our offices, or another licensed immigration attorney (please beware of fraudulent legal services) and we can assist you.  Please be advised that prior to some advice being given by US lawmakers (Sen. Durbin and Congressman Gutierrez) it is entirely reasonable for an applicant to seek the advice of a licensed immigration attorney before an application is submitted.  Immigration law is complex, second only to the tax code in the US, and there are terms of art and other pieces of the law to be considered in filing any sort of paperwork with USCIS.  Please do not be afraid to contact a LICENSED immigration attorney. 

Also, there is some uncertainty in the legal community as to whether the information that an applicant provides on his or her application may be used against other unlawfully present family members, and therefore we urge caution in this process.  USCIS has stated that the information provided to USCIS in the application for deferred action is protected from disclosure to ICE and CBP, and says that this includes information regarding family members and guardians, but it also follows this statement by saying that this policy may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice.   While we do not believe that this is cause for alarm, especially if the applicant is facing immediate removal proceedings, or is in detention, we do believe that it is the right of any potential applicant to carefully think through the benefits and consequences of applying for this program. 

Please contact our office with any questions or concerns.

This post does not cover all of the new information on the Deferred Action process.  Please also consult USCIS’s website for further information. 

1 comment:

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