On June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security announced its plan to exercise prosecutorial discretion in the form of deferred action for childhood arrivals. The purpose of this program is to prevent the deportation of the group of promising youth who have to come to be known as DREAMers. With this new form of prosecutorial discretion, DREAMers will finally be given the opportunity to come out the shadows and be able to pursue education and employment without fear of deportation.
As announced on August 3, 2012, the application for deferred action will become available and USCIS will begin accepting applications for the program on August 15, 2012. Qualified individuals include those who entered the United States without inspection, as well as those whose nonimmigrant status expired prior to June 15, 2012. Qualified applicants must also demonstrate the following through verifiable evidence:
- Proof of entry prior to age 16
- Proof that they were under 31 on June 15, 2012 Evidence of graduation from a U.S. high school, completion of a GED, current enrollment, or honorable discharge from the military
- Continuous Physical presence in the United States from June 15, 2007- June 15, 2012, with no gaps of 90 days or more
- Physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012
- No disqualifying criminal activity
Although there is no USCIS filing fee for the deferred action request application, applicants will be required to pay a biometrics fee of $85 as well as a USCIS filing fee of $380.00 for the Employment Authorization Application that can also be filed with the requests. A grant of deferred action is valid for two years and is renewable every two years for the duration of the program.
It is important to note that an application for deferred action and approval of the request for deferred action, does not result in valid immigrant or nonimmigrant status, and it is not possible to change status into a valid nonimmigrant status or to an immigrant status as a result of the grant of deferred action. Furthermore, the grant of deferred action does not affect the applicant’s eligibility to apply for other benefits to which he or she may be entitled under the immigration laws of the United States.