Natty Shafer Law

Utah lawyer for criminal and immigration cases


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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.


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Rules Still Hazy for Deportation Relief

Over the weekend, we learned little about how the Obama administration is going to implement its new policy of deportation relief. The procedures for application are unknown as well as how someone proves that they are among the eligible immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security directive from June 15 applies to undocumented immigrants under 30 who came to the United States before they turned 16, but the federal government has prosecutorial discretion over who it will grant a Deferred Action.

The details of the work permits are also a little hazy. The administration said that they will be valid for two years and eligible for renewal, but the application procedures have not been laid out.

In the meantime, beware of con artists. Specifically, do not hire a “notario público” (notary public) to do any legal work for you. Unlike most Latin American countries, notarios públicos are not attorneys and cannot practice law. They have no ability to get you a Deferred Action or a work permit. In due time, we will know the proper procedures for the new policy.


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Obama’s ‘Stopgap Measure’ for Immigration

Immigrants who were brought to the United States as children received a bit of good news today. The Obama administration announced, effective immediately, it will block deportations of certain individuals. To be eligible, an immigrant must be no more than 30 years old, have arrived in the country before they turned 16, and have lived in the United States for five years. They must also have no criminal record and have a high school diploma, or be serving in the military or have been honorably discharged.

Eligible immigrants can request a “deferred action” that eliminates the threat of deportation for two years. However, the plan does not create a pathway to U.S. citizenship. President Obama called the policy a “stopgap measure” and “the right thing to do.”

The new policy has obvious shortcomings for undocumented immigrants, but if you or one of your family members are among the eligible people, the news has to ease your fears a bit. For one, it may spur Congress to implement a permanent pathway to citizenship by passing the DREAM Act or similar legislation. It also will give you a two year reprieve from deportation, and give you a work permit, which should make it a little easier to work legally.