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Know Your Rights
Source: Make the Road New York
Subject: Immigration
Type: Event

New Relief from Deportation for Dreamers – The Facts

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On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration announced that the U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would offer protection from deportation to many undocumented young people. These youth, whether or not they are currently in deportation proceedings, will be able to apply for “deferred action.” Deferred action will temporarily protect them from deportation and enable them to work legally in the US.

IMPORTANT: While this directive took effect on June 15, 2012, DHS will only commence receiving applications for deferred action as of August 15, 2012.

What is deferred action?

Deferred action is a relief from deportation that has been around for a long time. It protects a person from deportation, allowing them to temporarily remain in the U.S.

A grant of deferred action is temporary. It is not a pathway to getting a green card or U.S. citizenship.

The administration is currently offering deferred action for 2 years to people who meet their five criteria (see below). After the 2 years, the young person can apply to have their deferred action renewed.

A person who gets deferred action will also be able to get a work permit if they can show “economic necessity” (that they need to be able to work to earn money). The work permit will only last for the same amount of time as the person’s deferred action but it can be extended if the person’s deferred action is renewed. 

Deferred action is granted on a case-by-case basis and it is discretionary. Even if you meet the requirements outlined below, DHS will still decide whether or not to grant you deferred action.

Who will be eligible for deferred action?

There are 6 criteria that young people will need to meet in order to qualify for deferred action.

Applicants for deferred action must:

  1. Have arrived in the U.S. when under 16 years old; 
  2. Have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  3. Have entered the U.S. unlawfully before June 15, 2007 or have been in the U.S. without lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  4. Have been present in the U.S.continuously since June 15, 2007 and were present on June 15, 2012.
  5. Be currently in school or have graduated from school or have a GED certificate or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Coastguard or Army.
  6. They must not have been convicted of a felony, a “significant misdemeanor,” multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.  All young people applying for deferred action with have to pass a background check.
Who can apply?

People who are currently in deportations proceedings can apply for deferred action and so can people who are not in deportation proceedings. Young people who have already been in deportation proceedings and who have a pending deportation order can also apply.

Currently, the Department of Homeland Security is also saying that young people need to be at least 15 years old to apply for the deferred action if they do not have a pending deportation order or are not in removal proceedings.

How can I show I have been living in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, that I came to the US before I turned 16, and that I was in the U.S. on June 15, 2012?

Different kinds of documents can be used as proof of these things, such as: school records, financial records, medical records, employment records, your passport, travel documents, receipts, or records of attendance.

I have a criminal record. How do I know if I am still eligible for deferred action?

If you have a criminal record it is very important that you speak to an immigration attorney before applying for deferred action. Anyone applying for deferred action would need to go through a criminal background check.

If you have any of the following things on your record, you will not be eligible for deferred action:

  • Conviction of a felony, that is, a crime that can be punished by more than 1 year in jail.
  • Conviction of a “significant misdemeanor”, that is, a crime that includes violence or threats; sexual abuse; burglary, larceny or fraud; DWI; escaping arrest, gun possession or use without a license; drug distribution or possession.
  • Conviction of 3 or more misdemeanors (minor offenses).
What if I apply for deferred action and my application is denied?

Deferred action is completely discretionary. This means that the decision in each case is up to the authorities and there is no appeal process.

Currently, the Department of Homeland Security says that people who are denied deferred action will NOT be placed in deportation proceedings UNLESS they have a prior criminal conviction, they committed fraud in making their deferred action request, or they are a threat to national security.

How can I get legal assistance to apply for deferred action?

Make the Road New York is providing legal assistance to people who want to apply for deferred action. To find out more about our services contact: Natalia Aristizabal at (718) 565 8500 ext. 4424 or via Natalia.Aristizabal [at]