The Obama administration recently announced a new policy on deferred action for certain young immigrants. Because this policy has the potential to save some young immigrants from deportation and may offer others an opportunity to obtain a work card, it has generated a lot of interest among young immigrants in Virginia and DC.
Most of the questions that Virginia and DC residents ask me about this new policy fall into two categories: (1) What is deferred action?, and (2) Who qualifies for deferred action?
What is deferred action?
Deferred action is a temporary status that basically means that the government has decided not to move forward with deporting someone at the present time. The deferred action policy reflects the reality that the government has a limited budget and would like to prioritize its immigration enforcement activities to focus on criminals before they spend resources deporting people who are not criminals.
Key things to keep in mind about deferred action:
- Deferred action is a temporary status. It does not give you any permanent right to remain in the United States. The government can still move forward with deporting you in the future.
- The government can terminate your deferred action status at any time.
- Deferred action is not an amnesty program. It does not forgive any past immigration violations.
- Deferred action does not provide a pathway to a green card.
- Deferred action does not provide a pathway to citizenship.
- There is no guarantee of how long you will be able to keep your deferred action status.
Who qualifies for deferred action under the new policy?
The basic requirements for deferred action under the new policy are:
- You must have entered the United States when you were under the age of sixteen.
- You must have continuously been in the United States for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012.
- You must be in school, have graduated from high school, have a general education development certificate (GED), or be an honorably discharged veteran.
- You must not have ever been convicted of a felony offense, a “significant” misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanors, or be a threat to national security or public safety.
- You must not be older than 30 years old.
- Most applicants must be at least 15 years old.
If you plan to apply for deferred action, please discuss your complete immigration history with a deferred action immigration lawyer and work with an immigration lawyer on your deferred action application to make sure that your application includes all of the documents and evidence that are needed for approval. If you apply and do not qualify, or do not submit the documents needed to prove that you qualify, you will essentially be identifying yourself to the government for deportation. Make sure that you qualify for deferred action before you apply.
What should I do if I want to apply for deferred action?
The earliest date that you can apply for deferred action under this policy is August 15, 2012. If anyone offers to submit your application before then, walk away and don’t let that person submit any forms on your behalf. There is currently no way for you to apply for deferred action under this new policy before August 15, 2012, so if someone says they can help you before then they are not being honest with you and it is likely a scam. This doesn’t mean that you can’t start collecting documents or discussing your options with an immigration lawyer before then. On the contrary, you should move foward with collecting documents and consulting with a lawyer to make sure that you qualify and have the proper documents to be granted deferred action. But, you cannot submit your application before August 15, 2012.
If you are in the Northern Virginia or DC area and are interested in attending a free seminar or webinar on the new deferred action policy, please leave a comment below. If there is enough interest, I’d be happy to host a free seminar or webinar so that you can get your questions answered by a qualified immigration lawyer.