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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Helps Young Immigrants Remain in US

Although the debate in Congress over immigration reform rages on, there is hope for thousands of young immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order. DACA temporarily eliminates the possibility of deportation for those who qualify, but is not a lawful immigration status and can be revoked at any time. DACA’s grant of deferred action simply means the Department of Homeland Security is allowed to exercise its discretion not to deport qualified individuals.

This order was prompted by the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act’s (Dream Act) failure to pass in Congress. The Dream Act was a proposal that would have provided conditional permanent residency to certain immigrants who moved to the U.S. as minors and who met other qualifications. The current DACA order requires the same qualifications for applicants, but only provides temporary relief from deportation and does not have a pathway for permanent residency.

DACA provides undocumented immigrants who come to the U.S. before age 16 the opportunity to stay legally for two years if certain conditions are met. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications on August 15, 2012. An attorney can advise whether these specific conditions have been met, but they are as follows:

  • Must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the U.S. before age 16;
  • Have continuously lived in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present;
  • Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2010 and at the time of application;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, obtained a GED certificate, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military and; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors.

This laundry-list of requirements must be supported with evidence at the time of filing (for example, a copy of a high school diploma) and accompanied by a filing fee. The majority of the fee is waived for certain candidates, including refugees, asylees, victims of severe forms of trafficking, and others. If permission is granted for a two-year stay, it must be renewed every two years along with the same filing fee.

Although DACA provides much-needed security, it is not a perfect solution. Unlike the proposed Dream Act, there is no direct route to permanent residency or citizenship. The relief granted is temporary and can be revoked at any time. The good news is that many candidates who apply are approved for this discretionary protection from deportation. An experienced immigration attorney at JRQ & Associates will be able to maximize that chance by providing guidance regarding an individual’s ability to file, the supporting documentation required, and appropriate timing.

The United States immigration and naturalization laws can be complicated. Everyone’s situation is different, and no one solution is correct for every person. The immigration attorneys at JRQ & Associates can evaluate your situation and help you get the resolution that you need. Our immigration attorneys can assist in any state in the United States. Contact an experienced immigration attorney at JRQ & Associates to set up your free lawyer consultation or to find out more about the services we can provide you.

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