Qualified minors who came to the United States before the age of sixteen and who have been present in the U.S. for at least five years and are currently under the age of 31 can now file their requests for Deferred Action and Application for Employment Authorization. USCIS have started accepting applications on August 15, 2012.
Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security on June 15, 2012 released a memorandum setting forth the exercise of prosecutorial discretion to certain young people who were brought to theUnited States as children and know “only this country as home.” Those who qualify would given the opportunity to apply for Deferred Action, would not be deported and be able obtain Employment Authorization if they meet certain criteria stated below:
- They came to the United States under the age of sixteen
- They have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years before June 15, 2012
- They are currently present in the United States as of June 15, 2012
- They are currently enrolled in school, have graduated high school, had obtained a GED or had been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of theUnited States
- They have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense or multiple misdemeanor offenses
- They do not pose a threat to national security or public safety
- They are not above the age of thirty (30)
Note that this Deferred Action is still subject to the discretion of DHS, meaning that there is no guarantee that relief would be granted in all cases. When an application is denied, there is no opportunity of appeal.
For children who are already in deportation or removal proceedings, but not yet ordered removed by the Immigration Judge and who meet the seven criteria above; Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) would exercise discretion by deferring action for 2 years, subject to renewal.
As for children who are not currently in removal proceeding, the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) would not place them in removal proceeding or deport them under deferred action for 2 years if they meet all the criteria stated above and are at least 15 years old at the time of application.
As for children already ordered removed or deported from the United States, but who are still present in the United States, the USCIS shall refrain from deporting or removing them from the U.S. under the Deferred Action criteria regardless of their age as long as they are still under the age of 30.
The implementation of this new immigration solution to the qualified children shall be commenced by the USCIS within sixty days of June 15, 2012.
Note that Deferred Action does not confer Permanent Resident/ Green Card status. It does not completely prevent a beneficiary from eventually getting removed in the event they commit a deportable or removable crime. It however grants an applicant the opportunity to obtain work authorization, obtain social security number, drivers’ license, go to school and other benefits associated with having an Employment Authorization Document.
For more information, visit http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=f2ef2f19470f7310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=f2ef2f19470f7310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD