Published: August 6, 2012

In the past week, the Obama Administration announced it will implement its “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” or “DACA” program on August 15, 2012. That’s the program that will allow certain undocumented young adults who arrived in the U.S. prior to turning 16 to apply for a 2 year employment authorization, and a grant of temporary “Deferred Action” status. Last week’s news release provides more details on the program requirements and answers the most common questions on the minds of prospective applicants. Below is a review of the program’s basic requirements and a discussion of the most common eligibility questions.

The Basics – eligible applicants are “young adults” who:

A) are in school, have completed high school or their G.E.D., or are an honorably discharged veteran from the U.S. armed forces or Coast Guard,
B) have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 and up to the present,
C) have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor, or 3 “insignificant” misdemeanors,
D) came to the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday,
E) entered the U.S. without inspection prior to June 15, 2012, or whose immigration status expired as of that date,
F) were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of submitting the DACA application and
G) were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012

According to last week’s news release, U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services on August 15, 2012 will release and begin accepting a form to be submitted, in tandem with Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) to facilitate DACA processing. A filing fee totaling $465.00 will be required, as will the submission of documentation to support the applicant’s claim of eligibility.

Important Details in Response to the Most Common Questions:

* “Brief and casual” departures from the U.S. during the above qualifying periods will not negatively impact eligibility, so long as the departure did not take place in the context of a removal proceeding or immigration court order,

* Individuals in removal proceedings are indeed eligible to apply and the application is made directly with DHS/CIS, as any other applicant would proceed,

* Misdemeanors deemed “significant” and thus causing ineligibility – include any conviction for driving under the influence, domestic violence, sexual abuse, burglary, firearms violation, drug distribution or trafficking (but not possession), no matter the jail term, or absence thereof,

* Applicants with any conviction involving a sentence of more than 90 days in prison will be deemed ineligible,

* Applicants with 2 or fewer “insignificant” misdemeanors continue to be eligible for this benefit,

* Applicants with minor traffic violations, such as driving without a license, will not be deemed ineligible because of such offenses,

* Applicants must be at least 15 years old at the time of the application, although if the prospective applicant is in removal proceedings, or has already been ordered removed (but is still in the U.S.), the applicant can even be under the age of 15.

* Following approval of the application, applicants may possibly be eligible to apply for a special document to allow for international travel. Any travel prior to issuance of a travel document may lead to disqualifying consequences.

* Additional filing instructions will be available when the form is released on August 15.

Copyright © 2012, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois