On August 15, 2012 USCIS released forms and rules for the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA does not give permanent legal status to those here without status. It does, however, provide an employment authorization document and the ability to work in the U.S. legally if certain criteria are met.
You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Qualifying for DACA is not always clear cut. There are various issues to consider before filing an application. A competent and experienced immigration lawyer will be able to guide you through the process and determine if the DACA program is right for you. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, along with various other public interest groups, has launched a website designed to help immigrants brought to this country as children understand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative. The website can be found at: http://www.weownthedream.org/. As always, beware of nonlawyers who charge you fees to file cases on your behalf. The money you save with a nonlawyer isn’t worth getting deported over.