Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals…

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Applications Now Available

On August 15, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  USCIS has released information and the new application forms on the DACA application process.  The application fee is $465.

DACA is a new program for unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and meet certain criteria.  Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual through use of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) prosecutorial discretion.  Eligible individuals may apply for DACA and work authorization and, if approved, they will be able to work legally and will not be subject to immigration enforcement for two years.  At the end of the two-year period these individuals may reapply for DACA and work authorization.

Applicants must be enrolled in school as of the date of their application, rather than as of June 15, 2012.  This is good news for many farmworkers and their family members who may be otherwise eligible, but may not have finished high school due to language barriers, the demanding and migratory nature of farmwork, and other barriers.

Potentially eligible farmworkers may enroll in a GED program or “an education, literacy, or career training program (including vocational training) that is designed to lead to placement in postsecondary education, job training, or employment and where you are working toward such placement.” Programs that are funded by federal and state grants will count, and programs that are funded by others sources will be assessed using a set of criteria.

Legal Assistance: legal clinics, free or low-cost attorneys, and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited immigration representatives can be found by state on the Own the Dream websitePlease note that there is no appeals process if your application is denied, so applicants should take their time in preparing their applications and have a lawyer or BIA accredited individual review their application.

Requirements for Eligibility

You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Minimum Age Requirement:

In addition to the above eligibility requirements, you must be at least 15 years old to apply, unless you are in removal proceedings, have a final removal order, or have a voluntary departure order, and are not in immigration detention.  You can request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals even if you are under the age of 15 at the time of filing and meet the other guidelines.

Individuals of any age who meet the eligibility requirements and are in immigrant detention, should apply directly to ICE.

Note:  Thank you to Farmworker Justice for this information.  Farmworker Justice will work with other advocates to understand more fully what kinds of educational programs will meet these criteria.

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