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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

With the recent Executive Order from the Obama Administration, a new window of opportunity has emerged for immigrants who came to the United States as children and are under the age of 31.  This new process, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has the potential to benefit hundreds of thousands or even millions of young people in America today.  

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about this new process:

What is Deferred Action?

A: "Deferred Action" does not confer any immigration status on an individual.  Rather, it is a way for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use its discretion to not put a particular individual in deportation proceedings.  By making this choice, DHS allows that person to stay in the U.S. for a specified amount of time without being deported.

How long does Deferred Action last?

A: Right now, DHS is allowing individuals to apply to stay for 2 years with the option to renew their deferred action at the end of those 2 years.

Will I be eligible to apply for Permanent Resident Status through this program?

A: No.  At this time, the Deferred Action program does not confer any sort of eligibility for permanent resident status or citizenship.

Can I work and get a Driver's License under Deferred Action?

A: You will be able to apply for a Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as a part of the Deferred Action program.  In Texas, this EAD Card should allow you to get a Driver's License.

Who is eligible to apply for Deferred Action?

A: You must meet all of the following requirements:

1) You came to the US before your 16th birthday;

2) As of June 15, 2012, you were under the age of 31 and did not have a valid immigration status;

3) You have continuously resided in the US between June 15, 2007 and the present;

4) You are currently in school, graduated from high school, obtained a GED, or were honorably discharged from the Armed Forces;

5) You have not committed, been arrested for, or been convicted of a felony, "significant" misdemeanor, or have 3 or more misdemeanors;

6) You must be 15 years or older to apply

Can I apply for my relatives if I receive Deferred Action?

A: At this time, an individual may only apply for Deferred Action for himself/herself.  However, if your relative meets the eligibility requirements, they can file an application for themselves.

Will information I submit in my application be confidential, or will it be used against me or my family?

A: U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) states on their website:

"Information provided in this request is protected from disclosure to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and US Customs and Border Protection for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings unless the requestor meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice to Appear or a referral to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the criteria set forth in USCIS's Notice to Appear guidance (www.uscis.gov/NTA)."

Thus, generally unless the applicant has a criminal background or has lied to immigration officials, this information will not be used to deport either you or any family member.

Can I travel on Deferred Action?

Deferred Action does not, by itself, give you the right to travel outside the U.S.  For most applicants over the age of 18, travelling outside the US while on Deferred Action will not be possible due to a rule which bars anyone who  is over the age of 18 and has been in the US for more than 6 months illegally  from reentering for a period of 10 years.  Ask your attorney for more information.

How much will this procedure cost?

A: The filing fee for this process is $465.  Additionally, we would highly recommend that you hire an attorney to help you with this complex new procedure.  Your attorney will charge a reasonable fee to help you with this process.

What will I need to do to apply?

A: First, you'll need to compile substantial evidence that you meet all of the eligibility requirements.  In many cases, this may be difficult to prove, so ask your attorney about the types of documents that may help you prove these eligibility requirements.  After you have compiled your evidence, you will need to file a Form I-821D, Form I765, and Form I-765WS.  After you file your Forms and Evidence with USCIS, they will proceed to review your case.  You will be given a Receipt Notice and then asked to come in for a Biometrics Appointment to take your fingerprints.  After this, USCIS will run a background check on you and decide whether you meet the requirements to receive Deferred Action.  If you do, you will be notified of that decision (allowing you to stay for a two year period) and issued an Employment Authorization Document.

Can I apply even if I am in deportation proceedings?

Even individuals who are currently in deportation/removal proceedings may be eligible for Deferred Action, though the procedure to obtain it will be different than in the standard case.  Ask your attorney for more information.


If you believe you may qualify for Deferred Action, give us a call at 214-236-2712.  Our firm is currently offering a free telephone screening to help you see if you qualify for this new process.  Likewise, if you do qualify, we will charge a flat fee for the entire process.  Give us a call to find out more about how we can help you apply for Deferred Action.