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On November 20, 2014, the President announced a new deferred action program called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, also known as DAPA. This program will be administered on a case-by-case basis for individuals that meet the guidelines, including a thorough background check. Please continue reading to learn about the DAPA guidelines.
Like DACA, the DAPA status itself and the accompanying work authorization will be granted for a period of three years with the opportunity to renew before three years have elapsed. REMEMBER that if you are eligible for DAPA, the application is NOT available for approximately 6 months.
You are eligible for DAPA if you:
- Have, as of November 20, 2014, a son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. since before January 1, 2010;
- Were physically present in the U.S. on November 20, 2014 and at the time of making a request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Had no lawful status on November 20, 2014;
- Are not an enforcement priority under the Policies for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum dated November 20, 2014.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens & Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)
What is “deferred action?”
Deferred Action is a discretionary decision made by immigration authorities to not deport someone from the United States for a set period of time. Deferred action is determined on a case-by-case basis and provides a work permit and protection from deportation (unless revoked or terminated for some reason), but it does not provide immigration status or benefits of any kind. For example, DACA is one type of deferred action, specifically for “Dreamers.”
Who qualifies for the new deferred action program for parents that President Obama announced in November 2014?
When the program Deferred Action for Parent Accountability (DAPA) for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents comes into effect (estimated in May 2015), you can apply if you–
- Are an undocumented individual living in the United States who, on the date of the announcement (November 20, 2014), is the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
- Have been in the United States since January 1, 2010 and have remained in the U.S. continuously since then; and
- Are not an “enforcement priority” (meaning that you are not a priority for deportation under guidelines issued on November 20, 2014 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)).
Who is considered an enforcement priority?
Generally speaking, someone is a priority for deportation if he or she:
- poses a threats to national security, border security, or public safety;
- is a gang member;
- has committed a felony;
- has committed three misdemeanors (with the exception of minor traffic violations or state or local offenses for which an essential element was being undocumented);
- has committed a “significant misdemeanor,” such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, burglary, illegally having or using a gun, selling drugs or driving under the influence; or
- has unlawfully entered the United States after January 1, 2014.
This is an overview of enforcement priorities. For further detailed information, please view the guidelines issued on November 20, 2014 by DHS or book an appointment with any of our attorneys on 4023455759 to discuss further.
Before you request DAPA, it is very important to understand how past behavior may have serious consequences that not only could impact your eligibility for the program but also could put you at risk for deportation. If you believe you have a criminal record, it is imperative that you first consult with a reputable attorney or legal services program for assistance before you apply for DAPA.
When can I apply for DAPA?
USCIS, the government agency to which you submit your application for approval, has estimated that they will begin accepting applications under the DAPA program approximately 6 months after the President’s November 20, 2014 announcement (around May 2015).
I want to get a head start in filling out the paperwork. Where can I get an application for DAPA?
The application has not been made available yet. Please continue to check back to my website for the latest information as it becomes available. You can also check the agency’s website, http://www.uscis.gov, for up-to-date information.
So, I can’t apply for DAPA or prepare an application just yet. Can I do something else to get ready?
Yes. Please begin to collect documents that will prove your:
- Identity; Parental relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; and
- Continuous residence and life in the United States over the last five years or more.
For a more detailed list of documents that might be helpful to begin to collect please visit this page on my website.
If my application for DAPA is approved, what immigration benefits will I get?
You will receive a card with your photo on it demonstrating your DAPA status, protection from deportation while in the program, and a work permit to work legally in the U.S
Once I am approved for DAPA, can I get a Social Security number?
Yes. Once your work permit arrives in the mail, you can apply for a Social Security number at a local office of the Social Security Administration (SSA). To look up your local office and to learn what documents you need to apply for a social security number, please visit http://www.ssa.gov/.
How long will my status as a DAPA recipient last? How long will my work permit be valid?
Your status as a DAPA recipient and your work permit will be valid for three years. You will also have the opportunity to renew your DAPA status and work permit before the three years is up.
How much will it cost to submit my DAPA application?
We believe the fees will be the same or close to the same as the current fees for DACA, but cannot be certain until the application is made available. (It currently costs $465 to apply for DACA [$380 fee plus $85 fee for biometric services fee for fingerprinting and photo]).
Should I get a background check done ahead of time?
For purposes of your application, once you have applied for DAPA and paid the fee, USCIS will send you a notice to get your fingerprints taken that will be used to conduct the background check. However, if you have been arrested or have a criminal record, please see the next question and answer.
What if I do not pass the background check?
Before you request DAPA, it is very important to understand how past behavior may impact your eligibility for the program. If you believe you have a criminal record, it is imperative that you first consult with a reputable attorney or legal services program for assistance before you apply for DAPA, otherwise you may risk being denied DAPA and/or deported.
My son or daughter has DACA, or will soon be applying for DACA. Once my child is approved for DACA, will I be able to apply for DAPA?
No. Having a child that is DACA-approved in and of itself does not provide a way for you to apply for deferred action. Unfortunately, the President does not have the authority to allow all 11 million undocumented individuals living in the U.S. to apply for deferred action. This is why we must continue to advocate for legislation in Congress that benefits all the undocumented with strong ties to the U.S., to ensure that we help all 11 million without criminal records.
It looks like I do not qualify for DACA or DAPA. Is there anything that benefits me in the President’s announcement?
If you are undocumented and have lived a crime-free life in the U.S., you may benefit from the President’s revision of enforcement priorities. Beginning January 5, 2015, if you entered illegally prior to January 1, 2014 and were never convicted of an offense that makes you a priority for deportation, you will no longer be at risk for deportation. This means that more people in our community will be spared deportation.
In June of 2012, the Obama administration created a new remedy for young immigrants in the U.S. with no legal status. Called “deferred action for childhood arrivals,” or “DACA,” it allowed immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who meet certain other requirements to apply for two years’ protection from deportation (removal), as well a work permit. President Obama announced changes to the DACA program that go into effect in early 2015, eliminating the age limit and extending the protected period to three years.
The people benefitting from DACA are also often referred to as “DREAMers,” because Congress has been considering legislation on a similar theme known as the DREAM Act. But it’s impossible to say when or whether Congress will take action on the DREAM Act legislation. The Obama administration’s creation of this deferred action program is meant to fill in the gap.
It’s important to note what this remedy is not. It does not confer amnesty, a green card, or U.S. citizenship. It simply means the immigration authorities should exercise their discretion and decline to deport an otherwise removable person who meets the criteria. Furthermore, family members of the applicant cannot claim any right to deferred action status. Parents of DACA recipients, for example, were hoping that the Obama administration, when it announced certain forms of administrative relief from deportation in late 2014, would grant them deferred-action status as well. This did not happen, however, so parents and other family members of DACA recipients must seek other options if they are not in legal immigration status.
As with any government policy put into place by the president and not Congress, a number of uncertainties remain. Although DACA can be renewed after its initial two- or three-year grant, there is no protection against the possibility that a later administration will alter or eliminate the program.
Who Is Eligible for DACA
Under the new DACA program effective in early 2015, you may apply for deferred action status if you:
- had not yet turned age 16 when you came to the U.S. to live
- have continuously lived (“resided”) in the U.S. since June 15, 2010 up to when you apply (excluding any brief, casual, and innocent departures)
- were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and also at the time you apply for deferred action
- either entered the U.S. without inspection before June 15, 2012, or if you entered with inspection, your lawful immigration status (such as a visa or Temporary Protected Status (TPS)) had expired as of June 15, 2012
- are either in school now (unless absent for emergency reasons), have graduated or earned a certificate of completion from an accredited 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
- have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors; and do not otherwise present a threat to U.S. national security or public safety (such as by being a member of a gang).
You will, when it comes time to apply, need to supply proof of each item on this list.
Under the original DACA program, you had to be under age 31 as of June 15, 2012 (that is, born after June 15, 1981). There is no more age limit under the new DACA program. Additionally, under the old program, you had to have been continuously living in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, instead of the new date, June 15, 2010. Persons affected by these rules should wait to apply for DACA until the new program goes into effect.
Who Is Ineligible for Deferred Action Status?
Eligibility depends on meeting each and every criterion listed above. If, for example, you fit all the criteria but were already 17 when you came to the U.S. to live, you will not qualify. The same goes if you haven’t lived in the U.S. “continuously” for the required period but, for example, spent a few years in the U.S., a few years in your home country, and so forth. USCIS looks closely at whether the schools from which applicants claim to have graduated are in fact recognized, accredited (in most cases, public) schools.
The criminal grounds of ineligibility are especially challenging for some applicants; especially because the term “significant misdemeanor” is not one that has a long history in the immigration law, and thus has not often been applied to particular fact patterns by USCIS or the courts.
Here’s what USCIS has said about significant misdemeanors: They include any misdemeanor, regardless of the prison or other sentence imposed, that involved burglary, domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, unlawful possession or use of a firearm; driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI or DWI); and drug distribution or trafficking.
But that’s not all. They may also include any other misdemeanor for which the applicant was sentenced to more than 90 days in prison, not including suspended sentences, pretrial detention, or time held on an immigration detainer. (And again, three or more misdemeanors of any sort are a disqualifier for deferred action status.)
USCIS has also explained a “non-significant misdemeanor,” as including any misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of more than five days and less than a year that is not on the USCIS list of significant misdemeanors.
What If Your Application Is Denied?
First off, if you or anyone you know is considering applying for deferred action status, you would be wise to consult with, and most likely hire, an experienced immigration attorney. Applying may not be risk-free.
Nevertheless, USCIS has assured attorneys that it will not share information about the immigrant applicants or their family with the enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Please call us on 4023455759 to book an appointment to discuss your own personal eligibility or to answer any questions you may have on this new immigration policy