Approximately one million young undocumented immigrants are thirsting for every drop of information they can find regarding the biggest and newest immigration law to help the undocumented community since 2001.
It’s called Deferred Action.
While not exactly on time, the tardy U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) issued a written statement and conducted a telephonic conference with stakeholders on August 3, 2012, outlining the filing procedures. This was originally scheduled for release on August 1st, but who is counting?
The USCIS is ramping up for an avalanche of applications that can begin to be submitted on August 15, 2012. Processing these applications will be a herculean task.
I am relieved that USCIS is moving forward on the program and providing much-needed information to the anxiously-waiting undocumented community, This is a key step forward in instilling confidence in the program.
The new information provided by USCIS includes the following:
• Filing fee for deferred action and work permits will be $465, which is intended to subsidize the costs of administering the program, which could be used by 800,000 applicants, without increasing the fiscal burden on taxpayers. Fee waivers will not be accepted.
• The form used to request deferred action, along with additional information and guidelines, will be available on August 15, 2012 and can be downloaded at that time from the USCIS website.
• Applicants can begin filing for deferred action and work permits on August 15, 2012, not earlier.
• Information obtained by USCIS during the Deferred Action filing process will not be used for immigration enforcement, unless a criminal, fraud, or national security issue is involved.
• Applicants will be required to submit biometrics and undergo background checks.
• Conviction for driving without a driver’s license will not be a disqualifying offense.
• Applicants will mail their Deferred Action application along with a work permit application to a USCIS Lockbox. Four USCIS Service Centers will be responsible for adjudicating the applications.
• It is anticipated that it will take several months to adjudicate the applications.
This is a good opportunity for undocumented immigrants who qualify, but everyone should be cautious about relying on bad advice, particularly from so-called “notaries” who are not licensed to practice immigration law.
I am deeply concerned with immigrants falling prey to unscrupulous service providers who provide misleading or false information on deferred action. I have practiced immigration law for 18 years, and I know how complicated this field is. Even something that appears simple on its face can turn into an immigration nightmare.
Bad advice can hurt.
We’ve seen this many times before when immigration law has changed and immigrants, desperate for legal status, are vulnerable to empty promises by some agents, attorneys or notaries. Complicated fact scenarios and rapidly developing law make can create risk.
Predatory service providers can only make it worse.
Those who work with undocumented immigrants, such as immigration lawyers and immigrant rights activists, are concerned that some unethical individuals will prey upon the undocumented immigrant community with misleading information about the new immigration law.
In the recent guidance issued by USCIS, the government continues to caution against the unauthorized practice of immigration law who may try to take advantage of immigrants by charging a fee to submit forms to USCIS. Visit USCIS website for tips on filing forms, reporting scams and finding accredited legal services. Remember, the Wrong Help Can Hurt! An informational brochure and flyer are also available at USCIS website.
To further help educate the immigrant community on applying for the new deferred action program, which will provide eb5 regional center the opportunity to obtain relief from removal and a 2-year work permit, I and other immigration lawyers are conducting workshops in various parts around the country.
Eligible individuals for the new Deferred Action program, as outlined in Napolitano’s memo, “Deferred Action Process for Young People Who Are Low Enforcement Priorities,” are those who:
• Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
• Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012, and are present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
• Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
• Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
• Are not above the age of thirty as of June 15, 2012.
Those who have final deportation or removal orders, or are in removal proceedings, or who have never been detected by the government, are eligible to apply based on the above criteria.
Those who prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria may be granted deferred action/prosecutorial discretion, which will give them immunity from deportation for 2 years and the ability to apply for work authorization with no renewal limits.
While many immigrants are eager to apply for Deferred Action relief, USCIS has alerted eligible individuals NOT to submit a deferred action request under the Deferred Action Process for Young People memorandum at this time. As stated by USCIS, “if you submit now, your application will be rejected.”