The Beacon (the USCIS Blog) offers helpful tips for those wishing to file applications on their own. It is important to carefully follow the instructions to avoid having the application rejected or denied by the agency.
According to a USCIS News Release: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today marked a significant milestone in its efforts to provide relief to victims of crimes by approving the statutory maximum 10,000 petitions for U nonimmigrant status, also referred to as the U-visa. This is the third straight year USCIS has reached the statutory maximum since it began issuing U-visas in 2008.”
In a blog entry that appeared on huffingtonpost.com, Rep. Luis Gutierrez listed the “Ten Reasons Young People Should Come Forward for Deferred Action.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself! The politically correct terminology for those who are now commonly referred to as “illegal aliens” used to be “undocumented individuals”. DACA is an opportunity for some of those people to come forward and “get documented”. Although it does not provide a status to those who qualify, it will allow them to remain in the US without fear of deportation, to obtain work authorization and in most states, apply for drivers’ licenses. In other words…get documented. Down the road there will almost certainly be a way for these individuals to obtain legal status and an eventual pathway to permanent residence and citizenship.
In addition to updating its Guidance on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the USCIS has Published Forms for Consideration of DACA.
There are gray areas that have yet to be clarified. Considering there will be many cases where adjudicators will use their discretion when making decisions, it is highly advisable to consult with a qualified immigration attorney or an accredited representative at a reputable nonprofit agency before applying. You will also want to read the USCIS Guidance on Avoiding Scams and Preventing Fraud if you have not already done so.
The USCIS has posted a very informative News Release entitled “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process.”
Anyone thinking of applying for Deferred Action under this program should familiarize themselves with the detailed information provided. There has been a great deal of online chatter regarding whether or not an immigration attorney should be retained to assist with the process. This is not a black and white area and, in my opinion, the answer would depend on several factors such as: (1) the applicant’s risk-tolerance level, (2) if there are any obvious factors that could lead to a denial of the application, and (3) the applicant’s understanding of the requirements and ability to properly collect and submit the required documentation.
At the very least, I would suggest scheduling a consultation with a qualified immigration lawyer prior to applying, especially if there are issues that are unclear to you. There are also community service organizations that may be able to answer questions and assist with the completion and/or filing of your application. It may be worth the investment to do it once and do it right.
Please read the USCIS guidance on avoiding scams related to Deferred Action as well as other immigration matters.
(Added on 8/13/12): After delving in further into Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, we learned that although Motions to Reopen or Appeals will not be permitted in most circumstances, one will be allowed to refile without prejudice should an application be denied. This is very helpful in situations where an application is denied on a technicality that can be remedied before refiling.
Many individuals and organizations have worked very hard to get Washington to reform our broken immigration system and this is a good first step in that direction.
Attorney Kristina Rost will be speaking at a Deferred Action Community Forum on August 15, 2012 at 5:30 PM at Roca, Inc., 101 Park Street, Chelsea, MA. The furum is being hosted by the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition in conjunction with Roca, Inc. and will be free to attend. For more information and to RSVP please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.miracoalition.org.
According to a USCIS News Release: “USCIS expects to make all forms, instructions, and additional information relevant to the deferred action for childhood arrivals process available on August 15, 2012. USCIS will then immediately begin accepting requests for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals.”
The deferred action initiative, announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on June 15, 2012 offers a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation to unauthorized immigrants who are under the age of 31; entered the United States before age 16; have lived continuously in the country for at least five years; have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three other misdemeanors; and are currently in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the military.
Immigrants who meet these criteria are commonly referred to as DREAMers because they comprise most of the individuals who meet the general requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
USCIS and ICE has stated that they will begin accepting affirmative applications by mid-Augustthe immigrant communities are awaiting information about when this affirmative process will be available.
Individuals who face imminent removal from the United States and who believe they can demonstrate that they satisfy the eligibility criteria should immediately contact:
- Law Enforcement Support Centers hotline at 1-855-448-6903 (staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week);
- ICE Office of the Public Advocate through the Offices hotline at 1-888-351-4024 (staffed 9am 5pm, Monday Friday) or by e-mail at EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.
Individuals who meet the following criteria from Secretary Napolitanos June 15, 2012 memorandum will be considered for deferred action:
- Have arrived in the U.S. when they were under the age of sixteen;
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012 and have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
- Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces;
- Not have been convicted of a felony offense, a “significant misdemeanor offense,” three or more non-significant misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
- Have been under thirty-one years old on June 15, 2012.
The deferred action offer will be available to those in proceedings, as well as those who apply affirmatively. Individuals who are NOT in proceeding should NOT apply affirmatively until after August 15, 2012, when the procedural rules for applying are expected to be released.