Is Deferred Action a form of permanent Legal Residency?
No, Deferred Action is not a pathway to permanent legal residency. Deferred Action will grant an applicant residency in the United States for 2 years at a time, but at present it is not a pathway to permanent legal residency. After the expiration of the two-year period, an individual can apply to renew deferred action and renew their work permit.
President Obama ordered the DHS to enact Deferred Action in order to stop the deportations of Dreamers until Congress enacts a comprehensive immigration reform bill that provides Dreamers a pathway to legal residency. Essentially what Deferred Action does is buy the applicant more time, so that Congress may enact immigration reform. By obtaining Deferred Action however, Dreamers can obtain several benefits like a work permit, driver’s license, social security card and purchase auto insurance, pursue their higher education goals and improve their lives dramatically.
Is Deferred Action primarily for candidates of Hispanic origin or does it apply to any nationality who satisfy the criteria?
Deferred Action is applicable to applicants from any nationality or background who satisfy the criteria. The Obama administration estimates that approximately 800,000 young immigrants will be affected by this Deferred Action policy from various backgrounds. According to the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders compose about 12 percent or approximately 96,000 Dreamers who may qualify for Deferred Action. Therefore Deferred Action will be available to applicants from all backgrounds and nationalities that satisfy the stated criteria.
Do I have to undergo a background check when applying for Deferred Action?
Yes. All Deferred Action applicants will have to undergo a name and biometric (fingerprint) background check to ensure they will not be a threat to society. This check is also conducted to inquire into an applicant’s criminal history.
I have a criminal record; will I still qualify for Deferred Action?
The answer depends on what type of criminal record you have. The DHS will release more detailed explanations about the criteria in the upcoming weeks, but from what we know thus far, if you have a felony or a “serious misdemeanor” you will not be granted Deferred Action. However, if you have a “less serious” misdemeanor, you may still qualify for Deferred Action.
In addition, Dreamers with 3 or more “non-serious misdemeanors” (not occurring on the same date and not arising out of the same act, omission, or scheme of misconduct) may also be ineligible to apply. At this juncture, we do not know if convictions vacated on legal grounds and juvenile criminal convictions will make an applicant ineligible.
What constitutes a felony?
A felony is a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
What constitutes a “serious misdemeanor” that would make me ineligible for Deferred Action?
Although DHS is the process of defining what constitutes a “serious misdemeanor,” it has suggested the following are likely serious misdemeanors: assault crime convictions, drug possession or trafficking, domestic violence, burglary, larceny or fraud, unlawful possession or use of a firearm and driving under the influence (DUI). Having one the aforementioned convictions on your record would likely constitute a serious misdemeanor and make you ineligible for Deferred Action.
Are there factors that can mitigate criminal history when applying for Deferred Action?
Having a felony or “serious misdemeanor” will bar you from applying for Deferred Action and there is likely nothing that can be done about this.
However, if you have a non-serious misdemeanor or group of non-serious misdemeanors, you may still qualify for Deferred Action. Although the specific criteria and standards are still yet to be fully determined by DHS, generally speaking, if an applicant has a non-serious misdemeanor, the following supporting evidence may help your Deferred Action application:
Do I have to have completed school or can I go back and obtain my GED in order to apply for Deferred Action?
The education requirement need not have been completed as of June 15, 2012. Dreamers who do not currently meet those requirements may enroll in school or in a general educational development (GED) course. They need not wait until they have graduated in order to apply.
Do I need to complete my military service before applying for Deferred Action?
No. The military requirement need not have been completed as of June 15, 2012.
What kind of evidence can help me present evidence of my military service?
You should request an Official Military Personnel File DD 214. This is the file that details military service. You can request this for yourself or for a next-of-kin for free by visiting www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records.