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What does Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) Mean for You?

On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced he was taking executive action on immigration, and would be instructing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) not to bring removal actions against certain undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and parents of lawful permanent residents (LPRs). This program, along with an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is expected to impact as many as 4.4 million people.

What is deferred action and how does it work?

Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion, which allows an enforcement agency, such as DHS, to prioritize the type of individuals it targets. Since DHS has limited resources for removal actions, it can choose to focus on illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes or who are threats to national security, rather than parents of citizens and legal residents who simply want to be reunited with family.

However, it’s important to understand that deferred action does not change immigration law. It does not confer legal status on a person who is in the U.S. without status. It only puts off the process of examining your status until a later date. The standard period is three years, but the DHS can renew the deferment. A deferment comes with several benefits:

  • Work permit
  • Social Security number
  • The ability to travel outside the U.S. on advance parole, which may have other adverse consequences.  Never travel in such status without consulting an experienced lawyer. Notwithstanding permission, a non-citizen traveling in such status will become what is known as an “Arriving Alien” with limited due process rights in the future.

It’s also important to understand that deferred action can only be granted on a case-by-case basis. You can meet the requirements and still be denied deferred action. But, if you are granted deferred action, you may apply for a work authorization during the period of your deferment.

To qualify for DAPA, a person who does not have lawful immigration status must:

  • Be the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Have continuously lived in the U.S. since January 1, 2010
  • Have been in the U.S. on November 20, 2014, the day Pres. Obama announced his plan
  • Not have been convicted of any felonies and/or certain misdemeanors
  • Pay an application fee of $465, which covers employment authorization and finger-printing

If you qualify for DAPA, you cannot apply yet. But you should seek advice from an experienced immigration law attorney at Bretz & Coven, LLP, so that when the government starts accepting applications in May 2015, you’ll be ready.

The hope for foreign nationals who get a deferment is that U.S. immigration laws will be reformed and liberalized before their hearing comes up. If that happens, the deferment could be a great help in allowing them to remain permanently in the U.S. with their family. Call our firm today at 1 (212) 267-2555 or contact us online so we can start working on your deferment.

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