Often times, an immigrant lacking proper documentation will be the mother or father to a child who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and they face a number of fears about their immigration status, most notably concerns about becoming separated from their family and who would care for their children if they were deported.
In an effort to keep families together – especially in those circumstances where the children are legally in the U.S. and the parents present no security risks – President Obama announced several executive actions last November. One such measure was to expand eligibility for parents to stay in the United States legally under the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program (DAPA). Under the revised criteria, deferred action will be extended to individuals who:
(i) are not removal priorities under the new priority policy;
(ii) have been in the U.S. at least 5 years;
(iii) have children who are US citizens or lawful permanent residents as of November 20, 2014; and
(iv) present no other factors that would make a grant of deferred action inappropriate.
Also among the President’s executive orders last November was the establishment of various removal enforcement priorities. Pursuant to this policy, deportation of the following immigrants is prioritized: national security threats, convicted felons, gang members, and illegal entrants apprehended at the border, followed by a second-tier priority for those convicted of multiple misdemeanors, and third-tier priority for non-criminals who have failed to abide by a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014.
If an immigrant parent has not committed an offense that qualifies as a deportation priority, and he or she meets the other DAPA criteria listed above, he or she will be assessed for eligibility for deferred action on a case-by-case basis, and may then be permitted to apply for work authorization. Individuals will undergo a thorough background check of all relevant national security and criminal databases, including DHS and FBI databases.
In order to apply for deferred action, the applicant must file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and pay the required fee ($465). Individuals eligible for deferred action may also apply for work authorization for the period of deferred action. USCIS expects to begin accepting applications by May 19, 2015 (approximately 180 days from November 20, 2014). If the applicant obtains approval, the deferred action applies for three years.
Similarly, the President’s executive action announced expansion of eligibility criteria for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Specifically, DACA eligibility will be expanded to cover all undocumented immigrants who entered the US before the age of 16, rather than just those born after June 15, 1981. The entry date will also be adjusted from June 15, 2007, to January 1, 2010, and the relief (including work authorization) will last for three years instead of two years.
Contact an Immigration Lawyer
The immigration attorneys at the Shapiro Law Group are closely monitoring developments regarding immigration policies, and will provide updates as additional legislative and regulatory actions regarding DAPA and DACA are taken.
The Chicago immigration lawyers at the Shapiro Law Group stand ready and able to help foreign nationals seek deferred action or obtain the necessary immigration documents that they need. We support immigration reform, which is designed to make the immigration system more efficient and effective. If you would like additional information about the President’s executive orders on immigration, contact our office at (847)564-0712 to speak with an immigration attorney.