Natty Shafer Law

Utah lawyer for criminal and immigration cases


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Deferred Action Fee Exemption

Most applications for a deferred action cost $465 (which includes an $85 biometric fee), but for some, it may be possible to avoid paying those fees. USCIS is careful to say that they do not offer a “fee waiver” for deferred action applications, but instead only offers a “fee exemption.” The difference probably does not matter to the average person. In effect, it means that instead of submitting the usual fee waiver form, each applicant sends a letter explaining the reason they believe they are eligible for an exemption, along with documentation to support the claim. Such documentation should include proof of annual income along with other documents proving the specific exemption.

The applicant then waits for approval of the exemption, and then, after approval, submits the application for a deferred action along with the exemption letter from USCIS.

There are three stated reasons that a person may be granted a fee exemption for a deferred action and all of them require that the applicant earn less than %150 of the U.S. poverty level, which is recalculated each year.

    1. The applicant is under 18 years of age and homeless, in foster care, or otherwise lacking any family support.
    2. The applicant suffers from a serious chronic disability and consequently cannot care for themselves.
    3. The applicant, at the time of the request, accumulated $25,000 or more in debt in the past 12 months as the result of unreimbursed medical expenses for themselves or an immediate family member.

Anyone who qualifies for an exemption is in a desperate situation. Some attorneys would be willing to accept your case pro bono or at a discounted rate, and it would be worth talking to attorney to make sure it is done correctly.


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Renewals for Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals

Immigrants who successfully applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program soon after it went into effect in August 2012 will soon have their paperwork expire. The terms for both the deferred action and the accompanying employment authorization document are for 2 years. That means the first approvals will expire in late summer and early fall. USCIS is in the process of designing the renewal paperwork for deferred actions.

First, the bad news. It appears the filling fee is going to remain the same. It will cost $465 to file, regardless of whether someone is renewing or applying for DACA the first time. Applicants will also have to submit the same three forms that were submitted the first time: I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS.

Now, the good news. Applicants will not have to resubmit the supporting documentation. Only a handful of documentation should be necessary for applicants who have had no new criminal charges and have not been in any removal proceedings over the last 2 years. Also, USCIS is assuring immigrants that most applications will be processed in under 120 days (about 4 months).

It is worthwhile for applicants to prepare in advance, resubmit their paperwork, and ensure that there is no interruption in their eligibility to work.


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What We Know about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

USCIS has given us a few details about the Obama administration’s policy of deportation relief, or what is now being called “deferred action for childhood arrivals.” On August 15, USCIS should have the forms and instructions available and will start accepting applications for deferred action.

To be eligible, applicants must meet all of these requirements: 1) They must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; 2) moved to the United States before their 16th birthday; 3) lived in the United States, uninterrupted, since June 15, 2007; 4) been physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and on the date of their request for deferred action; 5) either entered without a visa before June 15, 2012 or had their visa expire before June 15, 2012; 6) be currently in school, have graduated from high school, received a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and 7) not have been convicted of specified criminal offenses and not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

That last point is important because it means that USCIS will have discretion to deny deferred actions for many reasons, and it does not appear that an applicant can appeal a decision. The criminal offenses for which an applicant will be denied are any felonies, a “significant” misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors of any type. Significant misdemeanors are those involving burglary, domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, unlawful possession of firearms, driving under the influence, drug distribution, or any other misdemeanor for which an applicant was sentenced to more than 90 days in jail.

As part of the application fee, an applicant will pay for “biometrics” so that USCIS can conduct a background check. The total of the filling fee and the Employment Authorization Document fee will be $465. People approved for the Employment Authorization Document will be able to work in the United State for two years. With any luck, the deferred action will continue beyond that point, or, better yet, Congress will create a path for DREAMERS to get permanent residency.