Guidelines for Requesting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

What guidelines must I meet to be considered for deferred action for childhood arrivals?

Pursuant to the Secretary’s June 15, 2012 memorandum, in order to be considered for deferred action for childhood arrivals, you must submit evidence, including support documents, showing that 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.

These guidelines must be met for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals. USCIS retains the ultimate discretion on whether deferred action is appropriate in any given case.

How old must I be in order to be considered for deferred action under this process?

  • If you have never been in removal proceedings, or your proceedings have been terminated before your request for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals, you must be at least 15 years of age or older at the time of filing and meet the other guidelines.
  • If 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.
  • In all instances, you cannot be the age of 31 or older as of June 15, 2012 to be considered for deferred action for childhood arrivals.

Depending on the specific case, the Immigration Law Office of Marc P. Feldman’s legal fees for such applications start at $875.00 – $1200.00 ($500.00 to start and $375.00 prior to filing) each, with discounts available for additional family members. The filing fees are $465.00 each and must be sent with the applications.

To see if you or a family member qualifies, and to receive a quote for legal fees specific to your case, please call 973-267-7555.

Does “currently in school” refer to the date on which the request for consideration of deferred action is filed?

To be considered “currently in school” under the guidelines, you must be enrolled in school on the date you submit a request for consideration of deferred action under this process.

Do brief departures from the United States interrupt the continuous residence requirement?

A brief, casual, and innocent absence from the United States will not interrupt your continuous residence. If you were absent from the United States for any period of time, your absence will be considered brief, casual, and innocent, if it was before August 15, 2012, and:

  1. The absence was short and reasonably calculated to accomplish the purpose for the absence;
  2. The absence was not because of an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal;
  3. The absence was not because of an order of voluntary departure, or an administrative grant of voluntary departure before you were placed in exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings; and
  4. The purpose of the absence and/or your actions while outside the United States were not contrary to law.

May I travel outside of the United States before USCIS has determined whether to defer action in my case?

No. After August 15, 2012, if you travel outside of the United States, you will not be considered for deferred action under this process. If USCIS defers action in your case, you will be permitted to travel outside of the United States only if you apply for and receive advance parole from USCIS.

Any travel outside of the United States that occurred before August 15, 2012, will be assessed by USCIS to determine whether the travel qualifies as brief, casual and innocent (see above).

Note:  If you are in unlawful status and/or are currently in removal proceedings, and you leave the United States without a grant of advance parole, you will be deemed to have removed yourself and will be subject to any applicable grounds of inadmissibility if you seek to return.

Travel Guidelines

Travel Dates Type of Travel Does it Affect Continuous Residence
Before August 15, 2012
  • brief
  • casual
  • innocent
No
  • For an extended time
  • Because of an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal
  • To participate in criminal activity
Yes
After August 15, 2012 and before you have requested deferred action
  • Any
Yes.Yes. You cannot travel while your request is under review.
You cannot apply for advance parole unless and until DHS has determined whether to defer action in your case.
After August 15, 2012 and after you have requested deferred action
  • Any

 

If my case is deferred pursuant to the consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals process, will I be able to travel outside of the United States?

Not automatically. If USCIS has decided to defer action in your case and you want to travel outside the United States, you must apply for advance parole by filing a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document and paying the applicable fee ($360). USCIS will determine whether your purpose for international travel is justifiable based on the circumstances you describe in your request. Generally, USCIS will only grant advance parole if you are traveling for humanitarian purposes, educational purposes, or employment purposes. You may not apply for advance parole unless and until USCIS defers action in your case pursuant to the consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals process. You cannot apply for advance parole at the same time as you submit your request for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals. All advance parole requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If I have a conviction for a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or multiple misdemeanors, can I receive an exercise of prosecutorial discretion under this new process?

No. If you have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or three or more other misdemeanor offenses not occurring on the same date and not arising out of the same act, omission, or scheme of misconduct, you will not be considered for deferred action under the new process except where DHS determines there are exceptional circumstances.

What offenses qualify as a felony?

A felony is a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.

What offenses constitute a significant misdemeanor?

For the purposes of this process, a significant misdemeanor is a misdemeanor as defined by federal law (specifically, one for which the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is one year or less but greater than five days) and that meets the following criteria:

  1. Regardless of the sentence imposed, is an offense of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or, driving under the influence; or,
  2. If not an offense listed above, is one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of more than 90 days. The sentence must involve time to be served in custody, and therefore does not include a suspended sentence.

The time in custody does not include any time served beyond the sentence for the criminal offense based on a state or local law enforcement agency honoring a detainer issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Notwithstanding the above, the decision whether to defer action in a particular case is an individualized, discretionary one that is made taking into account the totality of the circumstances. Therefore, the absence of the criminal history outlined above, or its presence, is not necessarily determinative, but is a factor to be considered in the unreviewable exercise of discretion. DHS retains the discretion to determine that an individual does not warrant deferred action on the basis of a single criminal offense for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of three months or less.

What offenses constitute a non-significant misdemeanor?

For purposes of this process, a non-significant misdemeanor is any misdemeanor as defined by federal law (specifically, one for which the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is one year or less but greater than five days) and that meets the following criteria:

  1. Is not an offense of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or, driving under the influence; and
  2. Is one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of 90 days or less.

The time in custody does not include any time served beyond the sentence for the criminal offense based on a state or local law enforcement agency honoring a detainer issued by ICE.  Notwithstanding the above, the decision whether to defer action in a particular case is an individualized, discretionary one that is made taking into account the totality of the circumstances.  Therefore, the absence of the criminal history outlined above, or its presence, is not necessarily determinative, but is a factor to be considered in the unreviewable exercise of discretion.

If I have a minor traffic offense, such as driving without a license, will it be considered a non-significant misdemeanor that counts towards the “three or more non-significant misdemeanors” making me unable to receive consideration for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion under this new process?

A minor traffic offense will not be considered a misdemeanor for purposes of this process. However, your entire offense history can be considered along with other facts to determine whether, under the totality of the circumstances, you warrant an exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

It is important to emphasize that driving under the influence is a significant misdemeanor regardless of the sentence imposed.

Will offenses criminalized as felonies or misdemeanors by state immigration laws be considered felonies or misdemeanors for purpose of this process?

No.  Immigration-related offenses characterized as felonies or misdemeanors by state immigration laws will not be treated as disqualifying felonies or misdemeanors for the purpose of considering a request for consideration of deferred action pursuant to this process.

Will DHS consider my expunged or juvenile conviction as an offense making me unable to receive an exercise of prosecutorial discretion?

Expunged convictions and juvenile convictions will not automatically disqualify you. Your request will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether, under the particular circumstances, a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion is warranted. If you were a juvenile, but tried and convicted as an adult, you will be treated as an adult for purposes of the deferred action for childhood arrivals process.

What qualifies as a national security or public safety threat?

If the background check or other information uncovered during the review of your request for deferred action indicates that your presence in the United States threatens public safety or national security, you will not be able to receive consideration for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion except where DHS determines there are exceptional circumstances. Indicators that you pose such a threat include, but are not limited to, gang membership, participation in criminal activities, or participation in activities that threaten the United States.

Can I request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals under this process if I am currently in a nonimmigrant status (e.g. F-1, E-2, H-4) or have Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

No. You can only request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals under this process if you currently have no immigration status and were not in any lawful status on June 15, 2012.

If I am not in removal proceedings but believe I meet the guidelines for an exercise of deferred action under this process, should I seek to place myself into removal proceedings through encounters with CBP or ICE?

No. If you are not in removal proceedings but believe that you meet the guidelines you should submit your request for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals to USCIS under the process outlined below.

Depending on the specific case, the Immigration Law Office of Marc P. Feldman’s legal fees for such applications start at $875.00 – $1200.00 ($500.00 to start and $375.00 prior to filing) each, with discounts available for additional family members. The filing fees are $465.00 each and must be sent with the applications.

To see if you or a family member qualifies, and to receive a quote for legal fees specific to your case, please call 973-267-7555.

If you have any questions or need assistance with a possible deferred action, contact New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Marc P. Feldman for a consultation at 973-267-7555 or via the web.

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