For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about President Obama’s decision to allow certain “DREAMers” to apply for deferred action with the Department of Homeland Security. My previous posts provide an explanation of the program, but in brief, this decision gives certain young people without legal immigration status a way to stay and work in the United States.
When the program was announced over a month ago, DHS said that it would release detailed information about the application process within 60 days. Although they still have a few weeks to make a formal announcement, information is trickling out, and today I’m going to explain some of the documents DREAMers will need when it comes time to apply. Before I continue, I want to remind my readers that it is always important to consult with an attorney specializing in immigration before contacting USCIS or DHS. It’s all too common to hear stories of people innocently contacting the Government only to find themselves in removal proceedings.
First, let’s briefly review some of conditions an undocumented immigrant must meet in order to qualify for this program. He or she must:
- Have arrived in the United States when they were under the age of 16
- Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012
- Have been present in the United States on June 15, 2012
- Must be:
- Currently in school, OR
- Graduated from high school, OR
- Have obtained a GED certificate, OR
- Honorably discharged veteran from the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard
Last post, I covered some of the questions about criminal background. Today I’m going to explain some of the documents you’ll need in order to apply for deferred action.
When you submit your application you will need to provide documentation that proves that you meet all of the criteria above. To show that you were present in the U.S. for the required time, you should be able to use: financial records, medical records, school records, employment records, and military records. The dates on these documents will need to establish that you were younger than 16 when you first arrived in America. Additional documents may include: immigration court records, application for immigration benefits, correspondence with immigration agencies, I-94 cards, driver’s licenses, tax returns, other dated receipts. If you think you may qualify for deferred action, it may not be a bad idea to begin collecting and organizing these types of documents. But again, remember that this process has not been finalized and you should not contact DHS without consulting an attorney.
It is also a requirement to show that you were present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012. Right now, it’s not clear how DHS is going to interpret that requirement, but they will likely presume you were present if you are able to show presence on days surrounding June 15, 2012, but not necessarily the date itself.
To meet the education requirement, some acceptable documents will include: high school diplomas, GED certificates, other school records. Alternatively, those applying under the military criterion will need to provide reports of separation forms, military personnel records, and military health records. However, there are not likely to be too many people honorably discharged from the military for whom deferred action is their best option. It is likely they will be better served by applying for naturalization under existing immigration law.
Hopefully this post gives some guidance to those of you interested in the deferred action program. Even though the process isn’t finalized, you can at least start thinking about how to gather the documents that will be required once DHS has announced how the application process will work. Because the requirements are likely to be strictly construed by UCIS, your should seriously consider using an attorney to prepare your deferred action application. An experienced immigration attorney will know how best to present the evidence in your case to get a favorable outcome.