On August 15th, 2012 USCIS will begin accepting "Requests for Consideration of Deferred Action" under what they are now calling "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" program. On that day, I will be volunteering with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights at their "DREAM Relief Day" at Navy Pier. We sure hope the forms are released on time!
For those who want more individualized attention, my office will be holding extended evening hours between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm for the last two weeks of August. Please fill out this appointment form to request an appointment.
Last week, Alejandro Mayorkas, the Director of USCIS clarified qualification criteria and procedures on a conference call. USCIS has created a special webpage about the program at www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals. Criteria for requesting deferred action under this program are that a person is:
1. Not 31 yet on June 15th, 2012
2. Came here before 16th bithday
3. Has been in continual residence since June 15 2007 except for "brief, casual, and innocent absences"
4. Was here on June 15th 2012, and has been since
5. Does not current have legal status through some other visa
6. Is currently in school, or has a high school diploma or GED*
7. Not convicted of felony, significant misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanors
Director Mayorkas clarified that school enrollment, graduation, or GED is determined at the time a request is filed. So it appears that USCIS may approve requests from people who were not enrolled in school on June 15th, so long as they are in school at the time they request for deferred action. He also confirmed that once deferred action is granted to an individual, that person could travel outside the country and return by requesting "advanced parole."
On the topic of whether requesting deferred action would put a person (or family member) in danger of removal proceedings, Director Mayorkas reiterated USCIS policy which had been communicated earlier in the summer. Unless the requestor meets criteria for removal priorities already, removal proceedings will not be initiated solely based on the request for deferred action. He did add that information from the request form may be shared with national security, law enforcement, and ICE for purposes OTHER than removal, however. Additionally, fraud or misrepresentation in the request form will make a person deportation priority and may lead to criminal prosecution.
Mr. Mayorkas also warned that in some areas "notarios" and similar servicers are taking large fees from people and hinting that they have connections to "expedite" these requests for deferred action. This is a false promise; no requests are even being accepted at this time, and USCIS will not expedite any requests. For more information on how to avoid fraud when shopping for immigration services, see www.uscis.gov/avoidscams.
*service in the military or coast guard is listed as an alternative to graduation or GED, however anyone who has already served in the military would have better immigration options than deferred action, or would already have legal status.