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.