As of February 18, 2015, the USCIS will start accepting applications from “dreamers” under the new DACA rules. However, applications for deferred action from parents of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children (DAPA) will not be accepted until later in May of this year.

Ever since the Executive Action was announced, our law office has been receiving many inquiries as to whether and how one can benefit under the new rules. I will try to address some of the questions in this article.

The benefits of the program

If approved, the applicant receives an Employment Authorization Document valid for a period of three years (as opposed to 2 years under the old rules). As long as the person meets the requirements of the program, the employment authorization could be subsequently renewed every 3 years.

The approval of DACA/DAPA application means an implicit promise by the government not to take any action to deport the person. However, this promise is not indefinite and is contingent on the person continuously meeting the requirements of the program and successfully renewing DACA/DAPA every three years, provided that the programs still exists.

DACA/DAPA does not confer any legal status on the applicant and, as such, does not allow traveling abroad and coming back to the United States. However, in limited circumstances, it might be possible to obtain a permit to re-enter the country, known as an “advance parole.”

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Under the new rules, you MAY qualify for DACA if ALL of the following conditions are met:

  • You entered the United States before your 16th birthday
  • You have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010
  • You are currently enrolled in school, have graduated, obtained GED certificate, or you are a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces

Note that under the old rules, the applicant was required to have been residing in the United States since June 15, 2007, and must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, in order to qualify. New executive action got rid of both of those requirements, thus considerably expanding the program.

It is important to remember, however, that having a criminal background may bar you from qualifying for DACA. Having been convicted of certain offenses, notably including DUI and domestic violence, would not only make you ineligible, but is likely to result in initiation of removal proceedings.

Please note that new instructions have not been published as of the date of this writing. Once final guidelines become available, additional requirements may apply.

Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)

Under the new rules, you MAY qualify for DAPA if ALL of the following conditions are met:

  • As of November 20, 2014, you had a child who is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (has a “green card”)
  • You have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010

Importantly, to qualify for DAPA you should not fall within any of the immigration enforcement priorities enumerated in the memorandum that was issued by the Department of Homeland Security on November 20, 2014. The memo names three categories, including those who pose threat to national security and public safety; those who were convicted of certain criminal offenses or who unlawfully entered or re-entered the United States since January 1, 2014, and those who are subject to a final removal order issued on or after January 1, 2014. Such individuals will be ineligible for DAPA.

Please note that new instructions have not been published as of the date of this writing. Once final guidelines become available, additional requirements may apply.

DISCLAIMER: Attorney Advertisement. The information presented in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information provided on this website should not be relied upon without first seeking professional legal counsel.