reviewed by Elizabeth Simpson and Vanessa Smart

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced a plan to grant deferred action to undocumented youth who meet certain criteria. A similar announcement, better known as the Morton Memo, was made last year and yet undocumented youth still find themselves in the claws of the immigration enforcement machine. We have yet to see if and how effectively this new policy will be carried out. Nevertheless, below is an overview of how deferred action works and what documents to gather while you wait for the application process.

image by J. Valas

What is deferred action?

Deferred action is a discretionary practice that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. In addition, individuals may obtain a permit to work legally during the period their removal action is deferred. You do not need to be in deportation proceedings to qualify for deferred action. But remember, DHS has the last word. You may meet all of the requirements for the program and still be denied deferred action. Deferred action does not put you on a pathway to citizenship.

Are you eligible for deferred action?

In order to qualify, you must meet all of the requirements below:

  • you must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • you must have arrived in the US before the age of 16
  • if you’re not in removal proceedings, you must be at least 15 years old to apply
  • you must have lived in the US for 5 consecutive years as of June 15, 2012
  • you must have been present in the US on June 15, 2012
  • you must not have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or three or more misdemeanor offenses
  • you must not pose a threat to national security or public safety
  • you must currently be in school or have graduated from high school or have obtained a general education development certificate or be an honorary discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or the US Armed Forces.

NOTE: There is currently no application process to apply for deferred action. Based on the 60-day timeline announced, one should be made available by August 2012. Also, deferred action is NOT the Dream Act and you should set up a consultation with an immigration attorney NOT a notario publico. BEWARE OF SCAMMERS. 

If you are currently in deportation proceedings and you meet the criteria for deferred action, contact the ICE Office of the Public Advocate through the Office’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 (Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm) or by e-mail at EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.

If you are not in deportation proceedings, you will need to submit a request for review of your case to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Again, this process is not yet in effect so do not submit requests for review of your case at this time. If you have questions or to request more information on this new process, you can call the USCIS hotline at 1-800-375-5283, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The hotline offers assistance in English and Spanish. Individuals seeking more information on the new process should visit USCIS’s website (at http://www.uscis.gov).

What can you do to prepare for the deferred action application process? 

Start collecting your documents:

  • passport from your country of origin
  • birth certificate
  • proof of date of entry to the US before your 16th birthday (documents like financial records, medical records, school records, and employment records)
  • proof of continuous presence for the last five consecutive years in the US (documents like financial records, medical records, school records, and employment records)
  • letters from employers, teachers, ministers, and school records and awards certificates may also come in handy
  • if you do know that you do have a criminal history, getting certified copies of the convictions, and finding people who can say that you have reformed — if that is necessary, for instance, probation officer or other person.

NOTE: There is currently no application process to apply for deferred action. Based on the 60-day timeline announced, one should be made available by August 2012. Also, deferred action is NOT the Dream Act and you should set up a consultation with an immigration attorney NOT a notario publico. BEWARE OF SCAMMERS. 

For more information, check out this post on DreamActivist.org. Feel free to sign up for updates as well.

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