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Cost for Dreamer Deferred Action Could Cost $485

Details on what will be required to apply for the new dreamer deferred action have begun to leak as the application date of August 15 approaches. According to the AP, the government plans on charging $465 to apply for deferred action.

It appears that the process could take several months from the date of application to the delivery of a work permit. Thus, it is conceivable that the November elections will have already passed before anyone is granted an employment authorization document under Obama’s announcement. Given this delay, it is crucial that all those who have made an informed decision to apply should do so as soon as the window opens. Otherwise, one’s application may be substantially delayed.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration’s new plan to grant temporary work permits to many young, illegal immigrants who otherwise could be deported may cost more than $585 million and require hiring hundreds of new federal employees to process more than 1 million anticipated requests, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The Homeland Security Department plans, marked “not for distribution,” describe steps that immigrants will need to take — including a $465 paperwork fee designed to offset the program’s cost — and how the government will manage it. Illegal immigrants can request permission to stay in the country under the plan by filing a document, “Request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” and simultaneously apply for a work permit starting Aug. 15.

Under the new program, which President Barack Obama announced last month, eligible immigrants must have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday, are 30 or younger, have been living here at least five years, are in school or graduated or served in the military. They also must not have a criminal record or otherwise pose a safety threat. They can apply to stay in the country and be granted a work permit for two years, but they would not be granted citizenship.

The internal government plans obtained by the AP provide the first estimates of costs, how many immigrants were expected to participate and how long it might take for them. It was not immediately clear whether or under which circumstances any immigrants would not be required to pay the $465 paperwork fee. The plans said there would be no waivers, but Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress last week that the government would grant waivers “in very deserving cases.” She said details were still being worked out.

“We anticipate that this will be a fee-driven process,” Napolitano said.

A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, Peter Boogaard, said the plans obtained by the AP were “preliminary documents” and the process is still being worked out. Boogaard said processing immigrant applications under the program “will not use taxpayer dollars” because of the fees that will be collected.

Fee waivers could dramatically affect the government’s share of the cost. The plans said that, depending on how many applicants don’t pay, the government could lose between $19 million and $121 million. Republican critics pounced on that.

“By lowering the fee or waiving it altogether for illegal immigrants, those who play by the rules will face delays and large backlogs as attention is diverted to illegal immigrants,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas. “American taxpayers should not be forced to bail out illegal immigrants and President Obama’s fiscally irresponsible policies.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimated it could receive more than 1 million applications during the first year of the program, or more than 3,000 per day. It would cost between $467 million and $585 million to process applications in the first two years of the program, with revenues from fees paid by immigrants estimated at $484 million, according to the plans. That means the cost to the government could range from a gain of $16 million to a loss of more than $101 million.

The government estimated that as many as 890,000 immigrants in the first year would be immediately eligible to avoid deportation. The remaining 151,000 immigrants would likely be rejected as ineligible.

The plans estimated that the Homeland Security Department could need to hire more than 1,400 full-time employees, as well as contractors, to process the applications. Salaries were included in the agency’s estimates of total program costs.

Once immigrants submit their applications, it could take between two and 10 days for the Homeland Security Department to scan and file it. It could take up to four weeks longer to make an appointment for immigrants to submit their fingerprints and take photographs. A subsequent background check could take six more weeks, then three more months for the government to make its final decision before a work permit would be issued.

Napolitano said new information about the program should be made available by Aug. 1. She has said immigrants would generally not be detained by immigration authorities while their application is pending.


Obtaining Residency Based on “Cancellation of Removal”

It is well-known that certain immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least ten years and have a Legal Permanent Resident or U.S.
citizen spouse, children or parent may be able to obtain their green card.  However, there is a lot of misunderstanding about this
important remedy, called “Cancellation of Removal.”  Here are some key points:

1.      You can only apply for this relief in Immigration Court.  Unlike some simpler green card applications, where you can apply before U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services directly, this remedy is only available before a Judge.  Therefore, a person has to be in removal
(or deportation) proceedings to apply.  If someone is not already in removal proceedings, he can place himself in removal proceedings, but
this is only recommended when the case is very strong, because the alternative is a deportation order.

2.      The law requires “exceptional and extreme hardship” to family.  The standard to win these types of cases is usually higher than people
think.  You have to show that your removal from the United States would cause hardship to your family that is much more extreme than to
an average immigrant family.  The hardship could be financial, medical, or emotional.  For example, if you are a single parent of
four children, or the parent of a disabled or very sick child, it may be worth the risk to place yourself in removal proceedings to apply
for this relief.

3.      The ten-year presence rule.  There are some people who have been in the U.S. for more than ten years who will be barred from this remedy.
For example, if you received a Notice to Appear to immigration court before you accumulated ten years in the U.S., your time will stop
accruing and will not be able to attain ten years of physical presence required under the law.

If you had court proceedings or were ordered removed in the past, this may bar you depending on the circumstances.  Also
remember: even if you were in the U.S. for ten years, it will be your burden to prove that through documents (not just statements from
people) such as medical records, bank statements, receipts, etc.

4.      If you were ever arrested… you must consult with an experienced lawyer who will be able to tell you how your arrests will affect your
case.  You should always be honest with your lawyer, because it is not possible to win this case without having your fingerprints checked by
the FBI.  You should never underestimate any arrest because the immigration law can be very unforgiving.  Two convictions for petty theft, for example, could bar you from getting your green card.

5.      If you entered illegally, you still qualify.  Whether you entered the United States without documentation, or with a visa, you remain
eligible to apply for this remedy.  This is great news because so many other remedies are not available to illegal entrants. The bottom line is that if you have been in the United States for ten years or more, and have a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident spouse, child, or parent, you may be eligible and should consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to thoroughly assess your legal situation.  While these are some basic guidelines, you should not make the assessment on your own.

(C) 2012 Amoachi and Johnson, Attorneys at Law, PLLC. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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 at 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: 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 at 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!