Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
A man holds a list of guidelines during a deferred action applicants' workshop at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles, Aug. 14, 2012
Today is the day that young undocumented immigrants may begin filing applications for deferred action, a form of temporary legal status that is part of a new Obama administration policy announced in June. As many as 1.76 million people under 31 could be eligible, according to one recent estimate, and heavy demand is anticipated as applications start coming in.
Those who have been preparing the necessary paperwork have been getting ready since June, most recently with the help of detailed guidelines. As of yesterday afternoon, the application form* went up on uscis.gov, the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, along with instructions on how to apply. Here are the basics as to who may file Form I-821D:
1. Childhood Arrivals Who Have Never Been in Removal Proceedings
If you have never been in removal proceedings, but were in unlawful status as of June 15, 2012, submit this form to request that USCIS consider deferring action in your case. For deferred action for childhood arrivals, unlawful status means your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012, or you entered the United States without inspection. You must be 15 years of age or older at the time of filing and meet the guidelines described in the Secretary's memorandum to be considered for deferred action.
2. Childhood Arrivals Whose Removal Proceedings Were Terminated
If you were in removal proceedings which have been terminated by the immigration judge prior to this request, you may use this form to request that USCIS consider deferring action in your case. You must be 15 years of age or older at the time of filing and meet the guidelines described in the Secretary's memorandum to be considered for deferred action.
3. Childhood Arrivals In Removal Proceedings, With a Final Removal Order, or With Voluntary Departure
If you are currently in removal proceedings, have a final removal order, or have a voluntary departure order, you may use this form to request that USCIS consider deferring action in your case, even if you are under the age of 15 at the time of filing. You must also meet the requirements described in the Secretary's memorandum, including the requirement that you were not age 31 or older on June 15, 2012, to be considered for deferred action.
For the past two months, at least hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants have been rushing to compile the paperwork they'll need to apply for deferred action, a form of temporary legal status that's part of a new Obama administration policy announced in June. More than a million young people who arrived in the United States before age 16 could begin applying come Wednesday, when the federal applications become available.
It's a complicated process, though. There are strict criteria involving age (those who were over 30 as of June 15 can't apply), the applicant's date of illegal entry or loss of legal status, criminal history and other aspects. There are also concerns about cost, not only for critics of the plan, but for applicants, as it isn't cheap - there is a $465 processing fee to apply.
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.
Source: Migration Policy Institute
An estimate of potential deferred action beneficiaries, by age group
Now that Homeland Security officials have issued detailed guidelines on who may may qualify for deferred action, temporary legal status that young undocumented immigrants can apply for under a new Obama administration plan, it looks like there could be more applicants in the pipeline than estimated before.
The change comes after the guidelines, released last Friday, clarified that youths lacking a high school diploma or GED would be still eligible to apply, so long as they have re-enrolled in school by the date of their application. This raises the number of potentially eligible young people, estimated at as many as 1.39 million in June by the Migration Policy Institute, to 1.76 million.
MPI now estimates that with the educational requirements as they stand, an additional 350,000 young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors could eligible for deferred action if they meet other criteria.
Screen shot from uscis.gov
On Friday, officials from U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement released new guidelines on that they're calling “deferred action for childhood arrivals,” DACA for short. Since mid-June, when the Obama administration announced it would allow young undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria to apply for temporary legal status and work permits, the agency has been working to formalize the application process and clear up a long list of questions.
The applications aren't ready yet, but the application period is set to start Aug. 15, a date that hundreds of thousands of young people have been gearing up for since June.
How to interpret the guidelines? Last month, Telemundo legal expert and immigration attorney Alma Rosa Nieto provided her take on how those who were either slightly too old (over 30) for the deferred action plan or otherwise almost-but-not-quite qualified might be affected, and whether there was any wiggle room. At the time, the rules were still unclear. Now that they've become clearer, Nieto revisits deferred action with an interpretation of the new guidelines.