July 5, 2012 – Last month, the U.S. Department of Human Services announced that certain young people who entered the U.S. before age 16 will no longer be removed from the U.S. Qualifying individuals will be granted “deferred action” and be eligible for a work permit.
Lawyers should remind clients that the government is not yet accepting applications for deferred action. Those individuals currently in removal proceedings may be offered deferred action by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Otherwise, individuals will have to wait until the government finalizes an application process.
Lawyers with clients who believe they are eligible for deferred action but face imminent removal from the U.S. should contact either the Law Enforcement Support Center’s hotline at (855) 448-6903 (staffed 24/7) or the ICE Office of the Public Advocate at (888) 351-4024 (staffed 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday) or EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.
Eligibility and Scams
Lawyers should remind their clients to only trust information from reliable sources, such as an official government website or reputable legal or charitable organizations, and to consult with a qualified immigration attorney before requesting deferred action.
In order to be eligible for deferred action, an individual must prove that he or she:
Was under 31 years old on June 15, 2012;
Came to the United States under the age of 16;
Has continuously resided in the U.S for at least five years before June 15, 2012, and was physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
Is currently attending school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a G.E.D. certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard;
Has not been convicted of a felony offense, significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, nor otherwise poses a threat to the community or national security.
Requests for deferred action will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and not every young immigrant will qualify. Individuals who are found to be ineligible due to criminal history or because they represent a danger to the community may be subject to removal or other immigration enforcement action.
DHS considers many misdemeanor offenses to be “significant misdemeanors,” including those for which the individual received no jail time. If an individual has ever been arrested, they should speak with a qualified immigration attorney before applying for deferred action.
Don’t get scammed! The government will inform the public how to apply, within 60 days or by Aug. 13, 2012. Until then, individuals cannot apply for deferred action. Individuals should not “turn themselves in” to start the process. However, individuals can begin gathering the documents needed to apply for deferred action:
Documents, such as a birth certificate or passport, showing age on June 15, 2012;
Financial records, medical records, school records, employment records, and military records that demonstrate an individual came to the U.S. before the age of 16, and resided in the U.S. for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and was physically present in the U.S. as of June 15, 2012;
School records, including diplomas, GED certificates, report cards, school transcripts and other evidence of enrollment, or documentation as an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard.
More information is available at
Adapted from a “Consumer Advisory” by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.