A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Additional information on the Deferred Action Program for youngsters

On June 15, 2012, DHS Secretary released a memorandum authorizing the implementation of a Deferred Action program for young people who came to the U.S. under the age of 16 to be able to obtain temporary legal status.  Since then the DHS has released additional information on this program including the eligibility requirements, implementation process, and other related information.  The following is a summary of the key points:

What are the additional requirements for the Deferred Action Program?

Other than the requirements that the applicant entered the U.S. before the age of 16; attending or graduated from high school or having honorably served in the military; be a person of good moral character, etc., there are a few other additional requirements.  For example, applicants must be 15 years or older before they can apply.  Further, they must undergo a background check.  An individual must prove that he or she has resided in the United States for a least five years preceding June 15, 2012.  However, brief and innocent absences undertaken for humanitarian purposes will not violate this requirement. Finally, if they are subject to a final order of removal, their case will be subject to further review to determine if they are eligible.

How will the new Deferred Action be implemented?

Group1: Individuals who are not in removal proceedings will have to submit a request  for a review of their cases with supporting evidence to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Individuals may request deferred action if they meet the eligibility criteria.  The USCIS will release additional info on June 18, at their hotline number  1-800-375-5283.
Group 2: Individuals who are in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court or BIA, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will come up with a process to determine applicants' eligibility.   Beginning June 18, individuals may call the ICE hotline at 1-888-351-4024 for more info.
Group 3: Individuals who are in removal proceedings and have already been identified as meeting the eligibility criteria as part of ICE’s case-by-case review, ICE will immediately begin to offer deferred action to them.   

What are the benefits of the Deferred Action program?

Applicants who are granted deferred action will be issued employment authorization document (EAD) with two-year duration.  Renewals of both deferred action and the EAD are allowed.   However, they will not be granted permanent resident status or a pathway to obtaining permanent lawful status. Beneficiaries of deferred action may not bring their spouses and other dependents to the U.S. Each person must meet the requirements individually. DHS has not yet decided whether international travel is allowed after an individual is granted deferred action.

What documents are needed to prove eligibility?

Required documents to prove eligibility include but are not limited to: financial records, medical records, school records, employment records, military records, diplomas, GED certificates, report cards, and school transcripts. To prove an honorable discharge, one may use report of separation forms, military personnel records, and military health records.

What criminal background will render an individual ineligible for Deferred Action?

Individuals who have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or three or more other misdemeanor offenses not occurring on the same date and not arising out of the same scheme of misconduct are not eligible to be considered for deferred action under the new process. A felony is a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.  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.

For individuals who do not satisfy the eligibility criteria under this new process, can they still apply under the June 2011 Prosecutorial Discretion Memoranda?

Yes, these individuals may then request an exercise of prosecutorial discretion under the ICE June 2011 Prosecutorial Discretion Memoranda from ICE.  USCIS will not consider requests for review under the ICE June 2011 Prosecutorial Discretion Memoranda. 

Can individuals appeal a denial by ICE or USCIS of their request for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion under the new process?

One may not appeal a denial by ICE or USCIS of their request for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion.  However, ICE and USCIS will develop protocols for supervisory review as part of their implementation of the new process. Individuals in removal proceedings who believe their cases were not correctly handled may contact the ICE Office of the Public Advocate either by phone at 1-888-351-4024 or by e-mail atEROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov

If an individual’s request to USCIS for deferred action is denied, will he or she be placed in removal proceedings?

Under the existing DHS policy, individuals whose requests are denied under this process will be referred to ICE if  they have a criminal conviction or there is a finding of fraud in their request. 

How soon will a decision be made?

USCIS has not released information about the processing time of these requests yet. Stay tune for more information.

What if an individual is about to be deported from the U.S.?

If an individual is about to be deported but believes that he or she can meets the requirements for deferred action, he/she should immediately contact either the Law Enforcement Support Center’s hotline at 1-855-448-6903 (staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week) or the ICE Office of the Public Advocate through the Office’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 (staffed 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday) or by email at EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.   They should also contact a qualified immigration attorney for assistance.

No comments:

Post a Comment