Important News

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DAPA/DACA Update. April 19, 2016

The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and its sister litigation, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) both exclude certain categories of undocumented immigrants from deportation within the United States by offering them work-status in the country. This executive decision made under the Obama administration has recently had its case accepted by the Supreme Court on January 19, 2016. The Court, through a series of oral arguments, discussed the ideological factors affecting these programs in what some claim is an over extension of executive authority. Currently, the DAPA program is frozen and unable to accept applicants due to an injunction placed by a federal judge last year. This decision was reaffirmed by a New Orleans Court of Appeals in November 2015. The scope of these arguments, some of which questions the validity of statewide authority to bring a case against a national legal issue and emphasizes the repercussions of executive overreach into Congressional law, have divided the Court on the programs’ legality and the issues surrounding it. Those in favor of the Obama Administration’s position emphasize that such a case against this policy cannot be brought forth by states due to immigration policy’s roots in national governmental law. The opposition argues that the indirect effects of such a law, which would increase the amount of authorized undocumented workers and potentially increase Medicare and Social Security benefits for such workers, allows states to bring forth such claims due to the programs’ potential effects on state costs and taxes. With the death of one of the nine Supreme Court justices in February, the Court faces deadlock between the remaining eight justices, half of which are Republican and the other half Democratic. This ongoing split between the eight justices would ultimately send the case back to the district court in Texas that filed the original injunction, which is considered a defeat for the Obama Administration. Millions of people will be affected as the Supreme Court comes decides on the President’s executive actions. Our immigration law firm will be watching developments closely to advise and help our clients navigate our complex and ever-changing immigration system. Please call the Los Angeles immigration lawyers of ALG Lawyers at (213) 384-3300 for more information or an in-person consultation.

US Reaches its EB-5 Visa Allowance for 2015. November 21, 2015

For the second year in a row, the Employment-Based 5th Preference category (EB-5) visa program depleted its annual allowance, once again demonstrating the increasingly popular nature of the investment-based US visa. As set forth by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1990, the EB-5 program is allotted 10,000 visas each fiscal year and limits any one country to a total of 7.1% of the annual limit. In a repeat of FY2014, 10,000 EB-5 visas were issued in FY2015, forcing the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to suspend all issuances of EB-5 visas until more are made available.

For the most of the EB-5 program’s 25 years in existence, applicant numbers for the EB-5 visa investor program were negligible and had never reached its limit. In 2012, however, USCIS set a record, issuing 7,461 EB-5 visas.

In a sharp contrast from FY2004, where Chinese applicants made up only 13% of EB-5 visas issued, they accounted for the vast majority of EB-5 visa recipients in FY2014, totaling 9,128 issuances – 85.4% of the 10,692 total issued that year. Following in a distant second was South Korea at 2.1%, followed by Mexico, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Russia at lower rates, respectively. Despite the 7.1% allowance limit per country, China’s domination of the EB-5 category has made possible through an exception – a country may exceed its 7.1% limit if there are any unused visas from other countries.

Benefits of the EB-5 program set itself apart from other visas: It requires only a reasonable investment amount of USD $500,000; there are no language requirements; it is one of the fastest ways to obtain a US green card; and until recently, there were USCIS no wait times for application processing. As long predicted by organizations and immigration experts around the country, the EB-5 category is now backlogged by at least 13,000 applications, translating to wait times of 1-3 years or more.

From FY2005-13, the EB-5 program accounted for $6.5 billion in capital investment and created over 130,000 jobs in the US With an increasingly long wait list, the EB-5 may soon begin to lose its appeal, which will in turn affect the US economy.

In response to the recent trends, President Obama’s recent November 2014 announcement regarding executive action on immigration included orders to revise procedures to improve the EB-5 program. Although unclear, indicators of a major change to the EB-5 program have surfaced in order to address its recent popularity surge. Every three years, the EB-5 program is reconsidered and renewed by Congress, and different proposals and bills have been introduced that would make the EB-5 program permanent, increase the minimum investment amount, address fraud and abuse, shorten processing times, and exclude accompanying family member visas from the 10,000 visa allowance.

While many of these potential changes, if implemented, will benefit future applicants, it may be more beneficial to some by applying for an EB-5 visa before such changes occur. As it is a complex process with many factors to consider, it is important that each applicant fully understands his unique situation and consults a qualified and licensed attorney to determine his best course of action. Please call the Los Angeles immigration lawyers of ALG Lawyers at (213) 384-3300 for more information or an in-person consultation.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. If you have a particular legal issue, you should seek the assistance of a qualified licensed attorney.

US Senator Rand Paul Introduces EB-5 Invest in Our Communities Act. November 21, 2015

One day after the EB-5 program was originally set to expire, US Senator Rand Paul delivered on his promise to introduce laws to expand and improve the EB-5 program by increasing visa availability and eliminating the current renewal periods every few years.

The EB-5 program was created by Congress in 1992 and has been renewed nine times since. It provides means to a green card to immigrants who invest either $500,000 or $1 million in a capital enterprise or Regional Center. The program was designed to stimulate the economy by increasing capital investment in the US, creating jobs, and jump-starting regional productivity with higher unemployment rates.

Senator Paul’s timing comes as no coincidence, as the EB-5 program, originally slated to expire this past September 30, 2015, was granted a temporary continuance until December 11, 2015 following the passage of the Continuing Resolution. The temporary extension creates a suitable time frame for legislators to discuss and lobby new laws such as Senator Paul’s Invest in Our Communities Act.

S. 2122 – The Investment in Our Communities Act provides a number of improvements to the EB-5 program, including:

  • More oversight capabilities of Regional Centers;
  • Elimination of the program’s mandatory renewal;
  • Elimination of the 7.1% per country application cap;
  • Raising overall yearly visa availability (from the current 10,000 cap);
  • Maintaining the current $500,000 minimum investment amount for Targeted Employment Areas;
  • Excluding accompanying family member visas from the yearly cap; and
  • Allowing accompanying children to maintain their “child” status even if they “age-out.”

In June 2015, Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley introduced, among other improvements, a bill to increase the EB-5 investment amount to $800,000 in Targeted Employment Areas and $1.2 million for all other regions and investment types.

With the end of the extension coming up in mid-December, and several EB-5 improvement bills in the air, one thing is likely: the EB-5 program is soon to be undergoing changes. Current and future applicants can at a minimum rest assured that the vast majority of legislators realize and agree with the need to permanently maintain and improve the EB-5 program in order to help immigrants live the American dream, while contributing to continued growth of the U.S economy.

It’s an exciting time for immigrants who are considering gaining permanent residence through the EB-5 program. The first step is to fully understand your options. Please call the Los Angeles immigration lawyers of ALG Lawyers at (213) 384-3300 for more information or an in-person consultation.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. If you have a particular legal issue, you should seek the assistance of a qualified licensed attorney.

US Reaches its EB-5 Visa Allowance for 2015. October 20, 2015

For the second year in a row, the Employment-Based 5th Preference category (EB-5) visa program depleted its annual allowance, once again demonstrating the increasingly popular nature of the investment-based US visa. As set forth by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1990, the EB-5 program is allotted 10,000 visas each fiscal year and limits any one country to a total of 7.1% of the annual limit. In a repeat of FY2014, 10,000 EB-5 visas were issued in FY2015, forcing the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to suspend all issuances of EB-5 visas until more are made available.

For the most of the EB-5 program’s 25 years in existence, applicant numbers for the EB-5 visa investor program were negligible and had never reached its limit. In 2012, however, USCIS set a record, issuing 7,461 EB-5 visas.

In a sharp contrast from FY2004, where Chinese applicants made up only 13% of EB-5 visas issued, they accounted for the vast majority of EB-5 visa recipients in FY2014, totaling 9,128 issuances – 85.4% of the 10,692 total issued that year. Following in a distant second was South Korea at 2.1%, followed by Mexico, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Russia at respective lower rates. Despite the 7.1% allowance limit per country, China’s domination of the EB-5 category has made possible through an exception – a country may exceed its 7.1% limit if there are any unused visas from other countries.

Benefits of the EB-5 program set itself apart from other visas: It requires only a reasonable investment amount of USD $500,000; there are no language requirements; it is one of the fastest ways to obtain a US green card; and until recently, there were USCIS no wait times for application processing. As long predicted by organizations and immigration experts around the country, the EB-5 category is now backlogged by at least 13 thousand applications, translating to wait times of 1-3 years or more.

From FY2005-13, the EB-5 program accounted for $6.5 billion in capital investment and created over 130,000 jobs in the US With an increasingly long wait list, the EB-5 may soon begin to lose its appeal, which will in turn affect the US economy.

In response to the recent trends, President Obama’s recent November 2014 announcement regarding executive action on immigration included orders to revise procedures to improve the EB-5 program. Although unclear, indicators of a major change to the EB-5 program have surfaced in order to address its recent popularity surge. Every three years, the EB-5 program is reconsidered and renewed by Congress, and different proposals and bills have been introduced that would make the EB-5 program permanent, increase the minimum investment amount, address fraud and abuse, shorten processing times, and exclude accompanying family member visas from the 10,000 visa allowance.

While many of these potential changes, if implemented, will benefit future applicants, it may be more beneficial to some by applying for an EB-5 visa before such changes occur. As it is a complex process with many factors to consider, it is important that each applicant fully understands his unique situation and consults a qualified and licensed attorney to determine his best course of action. Please call the Los Angeles immigration lawyers of ALG Lawyers at (213) 384-3300 for more information or an in-person consultation.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. If you have a particular legal issue, you should seek the assistance of a qualified licensed attorney.

USCIS Announces New System for Determining Visa Availability. September 14, 2015

In response to President Obama’s November 2014 announcement regarding executive action on immigration, the White House issued a memorandum in July 2015, which introduced recommendations on streamlining the visa application process. Accordingly, USCIS recently released revised procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file for adjustment of status. Under the new system starting on October 1, 2015, I-485 applicants will be able to better predict their visa availability according to the annual visa issuance limitations established by Congress.

Until the end of September 2015, applicants will remain subject to the out-going system, in which applicants cannot file their I-485 visa applications unless their priority date is earlier than the cut-off date as provided in the September Visa Bulletin. Under this system, if a visa class is oversubscribed, an applicant’s priority date can range from months to even years later than the cut-off date. I-130 petitioners (family-based) and I-140 petitioners (employment-based) are often required to wait an unpredictably long amount of time before they are able to file their visa applications, causing various hardships to those attempting to immigrate to the US, such as the inability to travel overseas, work, or be with their families.

The new system taking effect next month predominantly eliminates the old system’s unpredictable nature by partitioning the current cut-off date into two separate categories: filing dates and final action dates. Immigrants will now be able to file their application well in advance of their pending final action date. Once an applicant’s priority date becomes current with the final action date, the applicant will be eligible for approval of a visa application. To illustrate the magnitude of this change – the current cut-off date for family-based first preference petitions as provided in the September Visa Bulletin is December 15, 2007, meaning that only those who submitted their I-130/I-140 petition on or before December 14, 2007 are eligible to apply. The permitted filing date for same category under the new system as provided in the new October Visa Bulletin is May 1, 2009 – a total of 14 ½ months earlier than allowed by the old system.

Not only will USCIS’s new Visa Bulletin system help maximize the number of available visas each year; immigrants will be able to take advantage of several other benefits while waiting for their final action dates. Most notably, applicants will be able to apply for their Employment Authorization Document (EAD or “Work Permit”) at the time of their initial filing date, rather than waiting until the final action date arrives. Applicants will also be eligible to request Advanced Parole, which will allow them to visit their friends and family overseas while waiting for their final action date. Several other benefits will ensue, such as the ability of spouses and children to apply for EADs and AP, the timely prevention of “aging-out” if a dependent is able to apply before he or she turns 21, and wider availability of H-1B, L-1, and other employment-based visas.

You may qualify to file your green card application much sooner than anticipated. Please call the Los Angeles immigration lawyers of ALG Lawyers at (213) 384-3300 for more information.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. If you have a particular legal issue, you should seek the assistance of a qualified licensed attorney.

Current Status of Deferred Action of Children and Parents. February 18,2015

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) are two US immigration policies aimed at expanding the opportunities for undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the US Both policies grant a deferred action status to a different subgroup of immigrants, of which the policy either postpones or exempts undocumented immigrants from deportation by giving them a work permit and residency in the US DACA focuses on undocumented immigrants that arrived in the US before June 2007 who were younger than 16 and grants them a two-year work permit. DAPA focuses on those who were residents in the US before January 1, 2010 and during November 20, 2014, and had children who were US citizens or legal permanent residents on November 20, 2014. Those chosen under DAPA are granted a 3-year work permit as well as deportation exemption. The following shows the chronology of circumstances surrounding these policies.

DACA was announced by Obama in June 2012 and the application process of DACA followed suit at August 15, 2012. Republicans of the House of Representatives voted against the funding of the program on June 2013, but had failed since the programs were self-funded and not funded by government. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began the renewal processes for the previous applicants of DACA shortly after on June 2014. Finally, Obama announced fewer restrictions on DACA beginning from November 2014, which had allowed those who were aged 31 or over by June 2012 to become eligible under the program. In addition, the renewable deferral period was also extended an extra year under this change.

DAPA, whose goals were similar to its predecessor, was announced during November 2014 at around the same time as the DACA expansion. 17 of the 50 States filed a lawsuit against DAPA for legal overreach around December 2014 in response. As a result, on February 16, 2015, Judge Andrew S. Hanen filed a temporary injunction against DAPA in addition with the DACA expansion in order to proceed with the lawsuit. In response, the Obama administration stated that it would appeal the injunction. As a result, the injunction was lifted by the Fifth Circuit on April 17, 2015 on the grounds that the State of Mississippi and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement had no standing in their lawsuit. In this case, Crane v. Johnson, the program was allowed to remain in effect. However, a similar Texas case against DAPA proceeds, although results against the state are expected to produce similar results.

DAPA followed shortly after DACA and had hoped to continue expanding immigration settlement opportunities here in the US Some people have stated that the administration of this policy is an over extension of executive authority and has created a dispute between the Obama administration and certain member states. Neither policy creates any legal pathway to becoming a citizen in the US, but it does reflect the current agenda shift concerning the government on increasing legality and opportunities for immigrants and non immigrants in the US.

For more information on the eligibility requirements of DAPA and DACA, or if you have any questions concerning miscellaneous issues in immigration, please contact the Los Angeles immigration lawyers at our number at (213) 384-3300.

New Employment Authorization for H-1B Dependent Spouses. February 24, 2015

In order to increase employment opportunities, promote economic growth, relieve the burden of employers currently employing non immigrants under an H-1B visa, and encourage non immigrants to stay in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security has recently announced a change to employment eligibility among H-4 spouses of H-1B holders. This new regulatory revision, effective May 26, 2015, will allow certain H-4 holders seeking employment-based lawful permanent residence status (LPR) to secure legal employment in the United States.

Not all H-4 members qualify under this new act, but those who can are spouses of H-1B holders who currently receive the benefits of Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, which petitions for non immigrant employees to qualify for permanent residency. H-4 spouses of H-1B holders may also qualify if their H-1B spouses are granted H-1B status under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 past the typical 6-year admission status normally authorized for H-1B holders living in the US. The H-1B holder under the second qualification may also pass this 6-year admission limit as a beneficiary of a PERM labor certification, regardless of the certification’s approval status. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services will approve the necessary forms and the H-4 spouse may begin their work in the United States. However, applications will not be accepted prior to the enactment date of May 26, 2015.

This act intends to bolster the economic growth of the country by encouraging H-4 holders and their families affected by immigration laws to continue working in the United States. In turn, job creation is expected to increase, businesses are expected to feel less tension from hiring and employing immigrant workers, and the country is expected to effectively compete internationally in attracting a higher number of skilled workers. This policy is a fairly recent development and can be considered a progressive step for immigration policy, which would most likely only see improvement in the near future.

For more information or questions regarding immigration policy or visas, please contact the ALG Lawyers at (213).384.3300 or at our email at info@alglawyers.com. We have many of the finest Los Angeles immigration lawyers ready and willing to assist you with any and all immigration issues you may have.

Summary Points of Obama's Immigration Reform. November 20, 2014

Immigration Accountability Executive Actions:

All points are proposed law changes only. For information purposes only. Final laws may vary.

Preventing illegal immigration at the border:
• Continued focus on prioritizing removal cases of recent border crossers.
• New Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan- will strengthen the efforts of the agencies who keep the border secure
• Quickly adjudicate cases of individuals who meet new DHS-wide enforcement priorities and close cases of those who are low priorities
• Expansion/strengthening of immigration options for victims of crime (U visas) and trafficking (T visas) who cooperate in government investigations.
▫ 3 more types of offenses will be added to the list of offenses for which DOL can certify U status – no specifics available regarding which offenses

Deportation of felons
• Government’s enforcement activity should be focused on national security threats, serious criminals, and recent border crossers (highest priority for removal).
▫ Suspected terrorists, convicted felons, convicted gang members, and people apprehended at the border
▫ People convicted of serious or multiple misdemeanors, and very recent entrants (entered after 1/1/14)
▫ Those who, after 1/1/14, failed to leave under a removal order or returned after removal
• Priority Enforcement Program (PEP): Identify and remove criminals in state and local jails

Accountability – Criminal Background Checks and Taxes:
• New deferred action program for parents of US citizens or LPRs
▫ not enforcement priorities
▫ have been in the US for more than 5 years (continuously present since 1/1/10)
▫ o work authorization for 3 years at a time

• Expanding DACA
▫ Individuals who were brought into the US as children (before age 16) before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today
▫ Work authorization for 3 years at a time

• Portable work authorization for high-skilled workers awaiting LPR status and their spouses
▫ DHS will make changes to allow workers to move or change jobs more easily
▫ DHS is finalizing new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved LPR application

• Enhancing options for foreign entrepreneurs
▫ DHS will expand immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the US
▪ Certain investors will be able to be paroled into the US, or be granted parole in place if already in the US, for job creation.
▪ Entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, and founders will be eligible for national interest waivers
▫ Criteria will include income thresholds so that these individuals are not eligible for certain public benefits like welfare or tax credit

• Strengthening and extending on-the-job training for STEM graduates of US universities
▫ DHS will propose changes to expand and extend the use of the existing OPT program and require stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges/universities following graduation
▫ Expansion of degree programs

• Streamlining process for foreign workers and employers
▫ DHS will clarify its guidance on temporary L-1 visas
▪ L-1B “specialized knowledge” will be more clearly defined
▫ DOL will take action to modernize the labor market test (PERM program) that is required of employers that sponsor foreign workers for immigrant visas while ensuring that American workers are protected

• Timing of Filing for AOS
▫ Individuals with an approved employment-based immigrant petition who are caught in the quota backlogs to file for AOS will be advanced to permit them to obtain the benefits of a pending adjustment

• Reducing family separation for those waiting to obtain LPR status
▫ DHS will expand the existing program that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional waiver for certain violations before departing the US to attend visa interviews
▫ Will be expanded to include spouses and children of LPRs- to “all statutorily eligible classes of relatives”
▫ The definition of extreme hardship will be expanded and clarified

• Ensuring that individuals with lawful status can travel to their countries of origin
▫ DHS will clarify its guidance to provide greater assurance to individuals with a pending LPR application or certain temporary status permission to travel abroad with advance parole

• Ensuring US citizens can serve
▫ DHS will expand an existing policy to provide relief to spouses and children of US citizens seeking to enlist in the military

• Visa modernization
▫ Will be a Presidential memorandum directing agencies to look at modernizing the visa system- to make optimal use of the numbers of visas available
▫ Will address issues such as whether derivatives should be counted and whether past unused visa numbers can be recaptured

• Integration
▫ Presidential Memorandum will set up a Task Force on new Americans

DOMA is unconstitutional. Immigration benefits to extend to same-sex marriages. June 17, 2013

DOMA is unconstitutional. Immigration benefits to extend to same-sex marriages

In a landmark judgment, the US Supreme Court quashed a federal law signed by a Democratic president 17 years ago that defined marriage between a man and a woman. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court Justices declared that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), supported by bipartisan majorities and decreed by Pres. Bill Clinton, is unconstitutional and violates the Fifth Amendment. This will go down in history as one of the fastest turnaround times of any civil rights issue in United States’ history.

This effectively paves the way for legalizing same-sex marriage in California, the largest state of the United States, and is being counted as one of the most important days for the gay rights movement. The court made it unconstitutional to deny Social Security and other federal benefits to same-sex couples while giving the same to heterosexual couples. The decision will extend immigration benefits to same-sex married couples who were forced into exile or remained separated, thus bringing parity into how immigration laws are applied to all couples, same-sex or heterosexual.

The most contentious section of the law was the section which denied more than 1000 federal marriage benefits to gay couples. The court also observed how contradictory marriage laws within the same state made the same marriage legal in state law and illegal under federal law. The court delivered a stinging indictment about how this demeans a couple for their personal moral and sexual choices and creates an environment of stigma for the children off those same-sex couples.

In a separate decision, the court also delivered a technical ruling by declaring that appeals to uphold the ban known as proposition 8 has no legal standing. The case is now being sent to a federal appeals court for dismissal, which leaves open the prospect of gay marriage being legal in California.

President Obama welcomed the decision declaring DOMA as “discrimination enshrined in law” which treated gay and lesbian couples as a lesser class of people.

ALG Lawyers will be offering legal assistance to same-sex couples that may qualify for marriage-based immigration benefits. Please contact our office at (877) 411-1254 for an in-person consultation.

New Immigration Law for Couples and Families. March 30, 2012

NEW IMMIGRATION LAW FOR MARRIED COUPLES AND FAMILIES

Your spouse or relative may qualify for a green card under this new law.

Please contact our firm for more information.

Stateside Waivers Program

On March 30, 2012, USCIS proposed the creation of a process by which immediate relatives of US citizens, residing in the United States, may be granted temporary pro visionary waivers of the unlawful presence factor of inadmissibility.

Purpose: reduce the time that US citizens are kept apart from immediate relatives who must remain outside the United States for the processing of their immigrant visa application and during the adjudication of waivers of inadmissibility

Eligibility:

  • Consideration for the provisional waiver to aliens:
  • Who are currently present physically in the US;
  • Who are 17 years of age or older;
  • who qualify for classification as immediate relatives of US citizens as a beneficiary of an approved I-130 immigrant visa petition;
  • who has already submitted their visa processing fee to immigration services;
  • who have a US citizen spouse or parent who would suffer demonstrable extreme hardship if the waiver were denied;
  • for whom the sole basis for inadmissibility is unlawful presence in the US of more than 180 days.
  • An immediate relative would not be eligible if s/he:
  • Has an application for change of status to lawful permanent residence already pending with USCIS;
  • Is subject to a final order of removal;
  • Already has a scheduled immigrant visa interview at a consulate or embassy abroad.

Work Permits coming to DREAMERS. June 15, 2012

WORK PERMITS AVAILABLE TO YOUNG DREAMERS WITHOUT LEGAL STATUS

You may qualify for a work permit under this new law. Please call us to find out more.

The New Memorandum on Deferred Action

On June 15, 2012, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced a deferred action process for certain qualifying undocumented residents. The process is intended to increase opportunities for undocumented youths in the United States who are low enforcement priorities for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Most illegal immigrant youths were brought to the United States when they were infants; they have thus fully integrated into American society and many of them do not even speak their native languages, let alone feel a sense of belonging to their native country. The new system of deferred action recognizes that these individuals cannot be held responsible for the crime they committed in entering the US illegally and strives to improve their quality of life.

Eligibility?

The new process allows these undocumented youths to be granted deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and makes them eligible to apply for a work permit. To be eligible individuals must:

  • Have come to the United States when they were 15 years old or younger;
  • Have been residence in the United States for at least five years before June 15, 2012, and were located in the United States on the date of the memorandum, June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently enrolled in school, have graduated high school, have successfully attained a general education development (GED) certificate, or have been honorably discharged from the US Coast Guard or the US Armed Forces;
  • Have not been convicted of three or more insignificant misdemeanors, one significant misdemeanor, nor a felony offense, or otherwise present a threat to public safety and national security;
  • Were below the age of 31 on June 15, 2012

All individuals must also submit themselves to a background check prior to receiving deferred action.

What is Deferred Action?

Deferred action is a discretionary decision made by DHS to refrain from pursuing enforcement against an individual for an allotted period of time. Deferred action cannot be used to alter an individual’s existing immigration status and thus it cannot confer lawful immigration status on anyone. Time in deferred action status is considered a period of stay authorized by the Secretary of DHS, although it does not absolve any individuals of prior periods of unlawful presence within the country. Under the new memorandum, individuals cannot appeal a denial of application for deferred action, however ICE and USCIS are collaborating to develop a supervisory and review system.

Deferred action can be granted only to the individuals who meet the eligibility criteria listed above. It does not extend to family members who do not independently qualify. However, seeking deferred action will not put family members in a greater risk of removal by US immigration enforcement.

Army Veterans

Documentation sufficient for an individual to demonstrate that s/he is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States includes, but is not limited to: report of separation forms, military personnel records, and military health records.

Criminal Record

A felony offense is any local, state, or federal crime punishable by over one year of imprisonment. A significant misdemeanor is defined as a local, state, or federal crime that involves: violence, threats, or assault, including domestic violence, sexual abuse, or exploitation; burglary, larceny, or fraud; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; obstruction of justice or bribery; unlawful flight from arrest, prosecution, or the scene of an accident; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or unlawful possession of drugs and that is punishable by either no imprisonment at all or no more than one year of imprisonment. An insignificant misdemeanor is any misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year of imprisonment that does not qualify as a significant misdemeanor. Factors that can disqualify a candidate by classifying them as a threat to public safety include but are not limited to participation in gang-related activity and involvement criminal operations.

Implementation

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been notified that the process of deferred action is effective immediately. Thus, the organizations will utilize discretion in all their operations with individuals who are eligible for deferred action in order to prevent low priority individuals from being prosecuted. Individuals with final orders of removal are still eligible to apply for deferred action through the standard USCIS application process. Qualifying candidates who are within the voluntary departure time frame, or were within the time frame when DHS announced the new deferred action plan, are allowed to remain in the US while the technical aspects of the deferred action application process are developed and implemented. When USCIS finalizes the implementation stages of the deferred action program, eligible candidates who are not subject to a final order of removal or who are not in removal proceedings will also be able to apply, however, such individuals must be at least fifteen years of age at the time of application.

You may qualify for a work permit, social security number and start working under this new law.

The passage of this law has marked the beginning of a new era for undocumented youths residing in the US. This is an opportunity that must not be overlooked by eligible individuals. With a grant of deferred action, these individuals can make themselves accessible to a wide range of opportunities.

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