On June 15, 2012, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum announcing a new prosecutorial discretion program that will offer grants of deferred action, in two year increments, to certain individuals who entered the United States as children. With a grant of deferred action, individuals will also be eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a discretionary determination by the government not to deport an individual. HOWEVER, deferred action is not the same as permanent residence and deferred action does not place a person on a path to permanent residence.
To be eligible for this new program, an individual must meet the following criteria:
• Came to United States under the age of 16;
• Has continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012 and is present in the U.S on June 15, 2012;
• Is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate (GED), or is an honorably discharged veteran of the coast guard or armed forces of the U.S.;
• Does not pose a threat to national security or public safety, including having not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or multiple misdemeanor offenses; and
• Is not over 30 years of age on June 15, 2012.
Deferred action will be offered to eligible individuals who are currently in removal proceedings, individuals not currently in removal proceedings and individuals who have been encountered by ICE, CBP, or USCIS. Each person must qualify individually for the program. Family members of qualifying individuals will receive no benefit from the program. A qualifying individual who is not in deportation proceedings will have to file an application with USCIS. However, the procedures for filing an application with USCIS have not yet been established by USCIS, therefore, no applications should be submitted at this time. USCIS has been instructed to begin implementing this program within the next 60 days. Therefore, we can expect to see further announcements in the near future about the implementation of this new policy and the procedures for filing the applications with USCIS.
What to do now: if you believe you might qualify for deferred action under the new program, in order to be ready to apply once USCIS announces the procedure, you should gather evidence to prove that you qualify. Such evidence includes:
• Birth records to show qualifying age
• School, military records to show that you meet the education or military requirement
• School, financial, medical or any other documents to show that you have been here for five years prior to June 15, 2012.
*** Our law firm is currently making a list of all individuals we know that we believe may be eligible for deferred action under this program. If you believe that you or someone you know may be eligible for this program, please contact our office. ***
There are many unanswered questions about the program at this time so you should be wary of anyone who claims to know the procedure, guarantees you qualify, or offers to handle your application at this time.
Information provided by the Immigration Task Force of the Colorado Lawyers Committee, June 19, 2012