Photo by Neighborhood Centers/Flickr (Creative Commons)
A young man looks over a petition during a deferred action informational event in Texas, June 20, 2010
Starting next Wednesday, many young undocumented immigrants who arrived here before age 16 may begin applying for deferred action, a form of temporary legal status that's part of a new Obama administration policy. If approved, they can also apply for work permits.
There is a long list of criteria that applicants must meet, including that they were under 31 as of June 15, the date on which the policy was announced. Last week, Homeland Security officials issued guidelines that answered some of the questions surrounding the application process, and made the rules for deferred action applicants clearer.
But for those who don't quite qualify, even though they meet the other criteria, the news is bittersweet. Some are still clinging to hope that future adjustments could be made. A few recent posts have addressed those who don't quite qualify, particularly those who are slightly too old but otherwise meet the criteria. Following a related Q&A with Telemundo legal expert and immigration attorney Alma Rosa Nieto last month, readers have posted questions, which Nieto has answered.
In this most recent comment* Mariagrobert28 is unsure of what her chances might be because she is 31. A reponse from Nieto follows.
Mariagrobert28: I arrived to the U.S. in 1991. I graduated from high school. I have most of the requirements except one: I'm 31years old. I'll be 32 in December. Some people are saying that I do qualify, others say no. I'm pretty sure there's a lot of people out there that have the same problem. I've known people that graduate from the university when they're very old. Why can('t) we get a chance? There shouldn't be limit on the age. Let's just hope for the best of the deferred action.
Nieto: U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services has indicated, up to now, that all applicants must have been under 31 as of June 15, 2012. However, let's remember that all guidelines are not out until August 14th or 15th.
You never know if USCIS could widen the margin. Unlikely, but let's wait and see.
I am hopeful that Congress may someday pass a Dream Act with broader coverage and lawful permanent residence.
Read Nieto's legal interpretation of the new guidelines here.
*Copyedited for clarity.