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DHS ANNOUNCES WORK AUTHORIZATION FOR DREAMERS

The Executive version of the Dream Act was just announced, today, June 15, 2012

Update: 4:23 p.m. As one of the requirements of proof for the policy change is that the person applying was present in the United States today, June 15, 2012, we strongly encourage all individuals who are or will be eligible to obtain a sworn, notarized affidavit today as definite proof of their physical presence here in the U.S.

Update: 1:18pm. Reading closely, DHS has stated that USCIS has 60 days to begin implementing the new policy. This means that applications may not be accepted until August 15, 2012. It is crucial that all eligible individuals apply the moment the window opens. There is a limited time to apply before the Presidential elections on November 6, 2012. If President Obama loses the elections, the whole process could be cancelled.

This is breaking news! It is also great news! Today, June 15, 2012,  the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will be granting deferred action for youth who qualify.

Those who are granted deferred action will be eligible to apply for work authorization. This status is good for two years and is renewable at the expiration of the two year period. Here are the specific requirements for a dreamer to be eligible for this new benefit: 

Pursuant to the Secretary’s June 15, 2012 memorandum, in order to be eligible for deferred action, individuals must:

  1. Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
  3. Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Not be above the age of thirty

It is important to note how expansive this new policy is. Virtually everyone who fulfills the above 5 requirements will be eligible for a work authorization for increments of two years.

Individuals in removal proceedings can apply. Individuals with deportation orders can also apply. Lastly, anyone not in the last two categories can also affirmatively apply. The specific procedures to apply for deferred action have not yet been implemented, but expect them to be released soon. DHS has provided us with a useful chart:

I… Who to submit a request to review my case: Where can I get more information:
…am subject to a final order of removal. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when the application period opens USCIS website athttp://www.uscis.gov.Beginning June 18: USCIS hotline at 1-800-375-5283 (8 am-8 pm; English & Spanish)
…have a case pending before the Executive Office for Immigration Review or a federal court. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when the process for accepting requests is announced ICE website at:http://www.ice.gov.Beginning June 18: ICE hotline at 1-888-351-4024 (9am – 5pm; English and Spanish)
…have never been apprehended or placed into removal proceedings. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when the application period opens USCIS website athttp://www.uscis.gov.Beginning June 18: USCIS hotline at 1-800-375-5283 (8 am-8 pm; English & Spanish)

It is highly recommended you consult with an attorney before applying for deferred action. Remember, if your application is denied, you could be placed into removal proceedings, or immediately removed, if you are a person with a final order of removal.

This is not the dream act, but still provides a huge benefit for so many young people who are being held back solely on account of their status as undocumented.

Also, do not wait to apply. This form of relief may very well disappear after the November presidential elections, so it is important to apply as soon as the procedures have been implemented. Good luck!

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