Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

You’re too old for deferred action – now what? Your questions answered

Photo by stevechihos/Flickr (Creative Commons)

By mid-August, hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who believe they may qualify for temporary legal status under a new Obama administration policy are expected to begin making their cases for why they should stay.

What they'll be applying for is deferred action, which does not lead to permanent legal status but would at least give them temporary relief for deportation, renewable after two years, and the ability to apply for work permits.

They must meet certain criteria, including that they are no older than 30, have a clean record and have been in the United States continuously for at least five years. But what about those who might otherwise qualify, but are too old?

Young people who meet most criteria but are over 30 or have another slight qualification issue (such as arriving in the U.S. just after the cutoff date) may not be entirely out of luck, Telemundo legal expert and immigration attorney Alma Rosa Nieto said in a Q&A last week. But to see if they stand any chance of relief via deferred action, they must take a wait-and-see approach. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency charged with implementing the policy, is still working out a strategy and there are questions that have yet to be answered.

Here, Nieto responds to some specific questions* that came in from readers:

From Kgb: What if we came here after June 15, 2007? I came here in August,  only 2 months later. Is it applied to me as well?

Nieto: Difficult  to know with certainty. The requirements to date are sketchy, and we will know more in a week or so. It is "my" personal belief that as long as you meet the five-year residency requirement PRIOR to filing, you should be eligible. I will post more as we learn more.

From Nb: What about people who enter the U.S. older than 16, are under 30 and have lived in the U.S. for over 5 years?

Nieto: As per the news releases issued by USCIS (immigration), you have to have entered the U.S. prior to turning 16. However, since most of the deferred action details are still  not out, things could change. I'm hopeful.

From Fhfc87: I've the same question and I've spoke with some lawyers and they told me to wait until the deferred action is published. But it seems that people who came here older than 15 years old would not qualify for the deferred action. 

Nieto: If you arrived in the U.S. PRIOR TO  TURNING 16, you would be eligible. Be patient. Let's see what USCIS says in a week or so. You do not appear to be eligible, however, the guidelines could change as the process unfolds.

Read the earlier Q&A with Nieto here for more details. And if you have additional questions, feel free to post them below.

*Slightly edited for clarity.