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What Does the Expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program Mean?

On June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security announced that certain people who had come to the United States as children could request deferred action on removal for a period of two years, subject to renewal. Those who qualified would be granted work authorization. On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced executive action on immigration that included an expansion of the DACA program, extending the period and work authorization to three years, and eliminating the requirement that applicants had to have been born prior to June 15, 1981.

If you are in the U.S. without legal status, you could qualify for DACA if you meet these criteria:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
  • You pay an application fee of $465, which covers the employment authorization application and fingerprinting

At this time, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not accepting applications under the new, expanded DACA guidelines, but continues to accept renewal applications and initial applications from people who qualify under the June 2012 DACA criteria. USCIS plans to begin processing initial applications under the expanded guidelines around the end of February 2015.

It’s important to understand that deferred action is simply an act of prosecutorial discretion and does not confer legal status. But it does give the applicant additional time to live and work in the U.S., as well as benefits that include:

  • Work permit
  • Social Security number
  • The right to travel outside the U.S. if DHS grants advance parole
  • Driver’s license in certain states

At Bretz & Coven, LLP, we encourage you to consult one of our knowledgeable immigration attorneys. If you qualify under the old guidelines, we can get your application started. If you must wait until the government starts accepting applications under the new guidelines in May 2015, we can help ensure that you’re ready. 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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