On August 3, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will begin to accept applications for deferred action status on August 15, 2012. The agency will produce the official application form by August 15. The process will cost $465.00 in filing fees.
Deferred action is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion on the part of DHS not to initiate or enforce removal proceedings against certain aliens without valid status who meet certain guidelines. Eligible aliens may also apply for temporary work authorization. Deferred action status will be valid for two years, subject to renewal.
To qualify for deferred action, the applicant must prove the following:
1. Was under 31 years old on June 15, 2012;
2. Came to the U.S. under the age of 16;
3. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012
4. Has continuously resided in the US for at least five years before June 15, 2012 (since June 15, 2007),and was physically present in the US on June 15, 2012;
5. Is currently attending school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a G.E.D. certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard;
6. Has not been convicted of a felony offense, significant misdemeanor offense, three or more misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to the community or national security.
Aliens who have previous arrest or a conviction record need to obtain all court documentation pertaining to the criminal record. A felony is a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
Significant misdemeanor is an offense for which the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is one year or less but greater than five days and meets the following criteria: (a) regardless of 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 (b) is one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of more than 90 days, excluding period of suspended sentence.
Deferred action status merely provides a shield from deportation and allows the alien to work and sustain himself/herself in the US. It is not amnesty nor does it lead to permanent resident or any other lawful immigration status. It does not allow the alien to sponsor family members.
It must be clearly understood that the grant of deferred action status is discretionary on a case by case basis. According to the memorandum issued by the Director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement on June 15, 2012, there is no right to the favorable exercise of discretion by the agency. It does not “prohibit the apprehension, detention, or removable of any alien unlawfully in the United States or to limit the legal authority of DHS or any of its personnel to enforce federal immigration law.